• In Narbonne, the Grands buffets are wildly successful.

    “We are counting 110,000 reservations for the weeks and months to come,” rejoices Louis Privat, who founded this restaurant, which offers a gargantuan all-you-can-eat formula, in 1989.

  • Why does it work?

    The buffet is already “a concept that works very well”, confides Olivier Quillaud, the pastry chef of the restaurant in Narbonne.

    “And when you're lucky enough to have a very high-end buffet, it's even better.

    »

  • The restaurant is overflowing with distinctions: Gault et Millau is full of praise for this address, the Spanish Guia Gourmand awarded it the prize for Best Restaurant in France and it entered the Guinness Book of Records for its enormous cheese platter.

To book a table at Les Grands Buffets, you have to be patient.

In Narbonne (Aude), this restaurant, prized for its gargantuan all-you-can-eat formula, is taken over by gourmets.

You can eat, without moderation, American-style lobsters, Rossini tournedos, Iberian ham or macaroons.

“We are counting 110,000 reservations for the weeks and months to come,” rejoices Louis Privat, the manager of this astonishing restaurant, which serves an average of a thousand covers each day.

And among the customers, there are only “very few” locals, explains the restaurateur.

“Clients from the Narbonne living area represent only 6% of our activity.

“Most of them come from elsewhere, half outside Occitania, and travel about 300 km to sit down at the Grands buffets.

From Catalonia, in particular.

“Our evolution had to be done step by step”

Since its creation in 1989, the restaurant has gradually moved upmarket. The price too. A hundred francs at the time, against 47 euros today. "I couldn't go from a 15 euro menu to a 47 euro menu overnight," says the restaurant owner from Aude. We started to offer oysters, foie gras, lobsters, then we changed the decor… Our evolution had to be done step by step. And the public, more and more numerous, showed us that they preferred the new formulas, enriched but a little more expensive, than the past formulas. »

Thirty years later, the success of the restaurant is such that Louis Privat has decided to increase its employees by 30% on average, in the form of a profit-sharing scheme.

Depending on the difficulty of their tasks, each will now receive between 300 and 900 euros more each month.

But there is no question, assures Louis Privat, of unbalancing the local ecosystem.

“We refrain from recruiting the staff of our colleagues.

Our goal is to attract young people to the restaurant industry.

»

A "French service"

What is the recipe for such success? Traditional dishes, of high quality, points out Louis Privat, who says that they are part of "what we called, until the middle of the 19th century, service à la française, that is to say offering in the form buffets all the dishes on the menu. These dishes, kidneys, tripe, calf's heads, dumplings, andouillettes, American-style lobsters, are disappearing from restaurant menus. In Paris or Lyon, perhaps, we still find some. But in Montpellier or Toulouse, try to find an establishment that serves classic recipes. We decided that people no longer wanted it. It's not true! The buffet is already "a concept that works very well", confides Olivier Quillaud, the pastry chef. "And when you're lucky enough to have a very high-end buffet,it's even better. »

The restaurant also appeals to the profession. In 2016, starred chef Gilles Goujon, a regular at Top Chef, hailed a unique establishment "for its performance". “As in every square meter, there is performance, we are happy to get up. From a buffet, we have made a real restaurant”, noted the chef, particularly blown away by the spit, which roasts suckling pigs and lambs. The Gault et Millau is also full of praise for the restaurant: this table "is not just a buffet, but THE buffet, perhaps the most beautiful in the world, at least one of the most gargantuan". writes the guide.

In November, the Guia Gourmand, a Spanish guide, even gave him the prize for Best restaurant in France.

The establishment "leaves no one indifferent", writes the guide, who evokes "a tourist attraction in its own right".

"The hardest thing is to choose", notes the Guia Gourmand.

Especially for cheese lovers.

Because the establishment also had the honors, in 2020, Guinness records: the Grand buffets have the largest cheese platter in the world, with 111 specialties.

Society

Coronavirus in Narbonne: The prefecture opposes guided tours behind the scenes of an all-you-can-eat restaurant

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Narbonne: A restaurant holds the record for the largest cheese platter in the world

  • Languedoc Roussillon

  • Restaurant

  • Gastronomy

  • Narbonne

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