In the Indian Ocean, 200 kilometers southwest of Mauritius, lies a French African island called La Réunion. Réunion is technically a part of France, though it has had waves of immigration from Africa, China, Malaysia, and India. Before the French, its first European discoverers were the Portuguese, and before that, besides a few visits from Arab, Swahili, and Malay explorers, no one is really sure what happened.
With that history, I had exactly no idea what to expect from Réunion. Once I landed, I was no less confused. The place seems sort of African, sort of Indian. But everyone speaks French. The locals drive Peugeots during the day and dance to reggaeton at night. Mango trees line the streets alongside Chinese-owned French bakeries. éunion over the years. éunion was overwhelming. We rented a car and drove around the island almost blindly, from Saint Gilles to Saint Leu to other "Saint" cities. A soundtrack of raï music and Lil Wayne made the aimlessness of it all somehow enjoyable, and we bumped along in the car for nearly an hour, watching the rolling hills pass by. Finally we pulled out our phones and punched in a search for "Reunion restaurant." That's how we found the Blue Margouillat.
With little direction besides a vague address and barely functioning GPS, we climbed up winding roads into a hillside, overlooking the ocean. After one particularly steep hill, a sign appeared bearing the hotel's logo, an outline of a little blue gecko. We followed the sign and found this:
Less a hotel, more an artsy cottage, something out of the 1800's housing local and European artists, antique wooden chairs, clean white linens, and iron candelabras On that cool and humid night the Blue Margouillat seemed to be a mirage, held in place by the night only to dissipate at the break of dawn.
The food was as mysterious as the island, European and possibly French with a distinct Creole style. Cold gazpacho with tomato and basil was spooned over curried crayfish and a goat cheese dumpling.
The beef fillet came pan fried in salted butter and peppercorns, with warm foie gras and wok sauteed vegetables, next to the local Takamaka goat cheese and almonds. Rack of lamb came roasted in gingerbread spices with a side of grilled vegetables and gnocchi.
Impasse Jean Albany
Saint Leu 97436
+262 (0) 262 34 64 00