Chateau de Feuilles

(Campeche)

 

Date of Review: May 1998, December 1999

Reviewer: Zebulon

This restaurant is in the middle of nowhere (halfway between Moule and Campeche) and only serves lunch. There is no reason to eat there except for the fact that the food is out of this world. Jonathan Runge, in the second edition of his book "Rum and Reggae" (a great book by the way), declared Chateau de Feuilles the best restaurant in the entire Caribbean. I haven't eaten in as many restaurants as Mr. Runge, but, from my two visits, I must agree with his opinion. Fodor's also gives it high marks.

The restaurant is in the middle of nowhere off a small road. Fortunately, you are also only a few minutes away from the Porte d'Enfer and the Pointe de Gran Vigie, so it also makes sense to plan a day to eat at Chateau de Feuilles if you are driving to visit those beautiful cliffs. You park in a small grassy area, and enter the restaurant to the left. There you will find the outdoor roofed kitchen, the menu, the wine list and a hostess (who doubles as the waitress). She will serve you a drink while you chat and peruse the menu. I use "chat" loosely as the French-speakers in our group spent the day at the beach and only the English-speakers went to Chateau de Feuilles. No one at Chateau de Feuilles spoke any English, so it was an adventure for all. However, everyone at the restaurant was patient and friendly, so the language barrier did not detract from the experience.

On my first visit, we ordered noisettes (tenderloin medallions) of lamb, magret du canard (duck breast), and roasted something a la orange. The three of us wanted a change from seafood at that point. The roasted something turned out to be a thick circular piece of a type of white seafood with a circular grain. We still don't know what it was, but it was darn good. The orange sauce had been reduced so much it was blood red and flowed like honey. The duck and lamb (actually lamb - not goat) were also excellent. We ended up sharing our dishes with each other. No one minded, as each dish was uniformly excellent. We still are amazed at how the small outdoor kitchen turned these dishes out, without anyone ever seeming to hurry.

The restaurant is set on a two acre farm in the hills. The view from the pool is lovely, and guests are invited to take a dip and relax with a drink after lunch. Some took advantage of the offer while we were there. Chateau de Feuilles is small, perhaps seating forty or so.

During my second visit, there were very few patrons. As several of the more expensive restaurants have closed in Guadeloupe following the worldwide decline in sugar prices, I fear the same may be in store for Chateau de Feuilles. The scarcity of patrons did not affect the quality of the meal, however. The cold salad was unique, as it came in a bowl topped with a concentrated dressing covered with shaved ice. As the ice melted, it mingled with the dressing and drizzled down onto the salad. The a la Orange was served with fresh Swordfish medallions this visit, and was intense and heady as ever.

I can not recommend Chateau de Feuilles more highly. It was the finest dining on Guadeloupe, and its food would be considered among the best in any city in the U.S. The experience of eating gourmet food poolside in a tranquil setting is unmatched. Bring local currency with you, as the restaurant is not equipped to handle credit cards.

To get to Chateau de Feuilles, get to Moule. Take D123 Northwest out of Moule. Very shortly it will fork. Branch to the right. You will now be on D120, although I sure didn't see a sign. Have a fun and bouncy ride North through Saint-Marguerite and straight through the intersection for les Mangles (to the left) and Gros Cap (to the right). Keep heading North towards Campeche.

Eventually you will reach the ruins of a large sugar mill (Ancienne Sucrerie Mahaudiere) which is evidently a site of historical interest. That is a three way intersection. There is a sign there for Chateau de Feuilles (Hint: when facing the mill, Chateau de Feuilles is on the road to your left). A bit down the road, Chateau de Feuilles will be on left side. If you encounter a large farm, you have gone a little bit too far. If the pavement ends, you have definitely gone too far.