Shockingly, we hadn’t eaten any duck in the first few weeks that we had been in France, and so K determined to find a restaurant specialising in cassoulet during our short stay in Toulouse. Did you know that cassoulet and other dishes involving duck are considered a regional speciality around Toulouse? This point was made quite clear when we walked past a restaurant called Mon Canard late on our first evening in the city, and decided to go back for lunch the next day.
Mon Canard is located just slightly out of the old town and shopping districts of Toulouse, near a couple of universities and larger office buildings. This has the benefit of making it relatively tourist-free, and very affordable for the local students and workers. Still, they have a menu in English so you won’t run the risk of ordering any less appetising parts of the duck and receiving a nasty shock when a duck gizzard salad (one of the items on the menu!) is placed in front of you.
We arrived at the restaurant early, almost as soon as it opened its doors at 12pm. Unsurprisingly we were the first ones to be seated and order – I’m not sure if I could get used to the later dining hours that we were exposed to in southern France and the Iberian peninsula!
The earlier dining time did mean that we got to see the waiter/owner in action as he started to prepare the restaurant for the lunch crowd. Most excitingly, this meant seeing him take delivery of a giant burlap bag of bread rolls from the local bakery, and start slicing them with a bread guillotine. Nothing better than super fresh bakery bread served directly to your table!
K was set on just ordering one main dish (the cassoulet of course), but I decided to try the restaurant’s special two-course midday menu. My first course which I shared with K, was Homemade Tender Foie Gras. What I liked about this foie gras was its rich meatiness and gamey duck flavours, but I have to say that I wasn’t particularly keen on the texture. It was a lot smoother than the commercial foie gras that we tend to eat, and it lacked a certain rawness that I like in my foie gras. I do like that it was served with some palate-cleansing salad though!
Was K’s Cassoulet everything he dreamed about and more? It was incredibly rich and creamy, and being served in the ceramic dish meant that it stayed hot for a long time – important for a thick and stodgy dish like this. While the beans were cooked well, they managed to bridge that treacherous gap between firm and mushy. The sausage was very strongly porky and meaty, and the piece of duck meat was particularly tender. It was a very large serve – easily enough to serve two people (with an entree), so the fact that K managed to finish it all did mean that it put him into a food coma for the rest of the day!
My main dish was a Grilled Duck Confit – quite easily one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever eaten, right up there with the Peking Duck pancakes I had in Beijing. The duck meat was amazingly tender and sweet – and when I say that the meat just fell of the bone, I mean that in a literal sense. Yet, the skin was still deliciously crispy and savoury. The battered zucchini slices were less impressive…but let’s face it, the main attraction is the confit duck!
The Mon Canard midday menu also comes with Home-made French Fries on the side, described as ‘at will’. I didn’t put it to the test as I was already full enough as it was, but my understanding is that you can ask for more french fries completely free-of-charge if you’re able to finish the first serve. If I had space, you bet I would have asked for more of these fries as well – super crispy and tasty, made of a type of super-flavourful potato that I’m sure we just don’t get in Australia.
I don’t often order duck when I’m out at restaurants – it’s difficult for many chefs to get right as the meat can become dry quite easily. After our meal at Mon Canard, I can say with some confidence that this isn’t an issue that you would ever encounter here – instead what you’ll get is deliciously prepared traditional French duck dishes for a reasonable price. Well worth a visit if ever you go to Toulouse and feel like some local cassoulet or duck confit!
Mon Canard is located at 12 Boulevard Lascrosses in Toulouse, France.