Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Assiette des saveurs, Bandol

This translates as plate of flavors. We ended up at this place because of our son who wanted a pizza as a child meal. We walked along Bandol streets but didn't want to spend a fortune on a pizza place. We came across l'Assiette des saveurs and I was worried a bit seeing a menu with pictures, a sign of a touristy place, but as a few families were having dinner there, we decided to try. They offered a free aperitif. I chose a kir and my husband a beer. I had much better kir in Bandol, but no complaint since it was free.

There was a menu for 18E and mussels for 10-12E. I decided on Royal Mussels including foie gras and mussels, St Jacques, fish, giant gambas and some other sea food I couldn't identify. My husband went with lamb. Our son chose a pizza. The service was good, as they had many waiters. We were seated at one of the tables from where we could see the kitchens and their work was spectacular to see. There were 7 people working in much limited space to deliver all meals. They managed to get may be a 100 people with their promotion and waiters staff.

The pizza was ordered from the neighbor pizza place and was good according to our son. I got even more worried when I saw the big platters served and when my order arrived it was a huge platter of sea food, then they came back with another bowl of salad and foie gras. I got really concerned when I heard a person speaking English next to us as I suspected this a touristy place, however the rest of their table spoke French among them.

The salad was lettuce with balsamic vinegar with a slice of foie gras pate on toast. I didn't realize they served all sea food with same yellow sauce with coconut milk. The mussels were perfectly cooked, the fish was to my taste with garlic and olive oil, but there were not much of it. Now I can understand the sauce for the St Jacques, they were colorful and well cooked. But this same sauce although it was on on mussels, wasn't as good on the rest of sea food. The Gambas had sand in them, and really didn't taste well with this sauce. There were some unidentified and completely tasteless sea food. For 24 E this was like an appetizer and an entry. Because of quantity and of the sauce it made me think of numerous North American restaurants pretending to cook sea food, but really don't know how to cook it. Nothing was really bad, but all together it was too much food and just mentally it couldn't be high quality. It is usually difficult to prepare a big quantity and a good quality food. My conclusion was it was the sauce that made it too much. The foie gras was just good, but we could get a better one even at supermarket. So, for Provence and Bandol the overall meal wasn't excellent, just ok to good, but there are better and cheaper places in Bandol. I felt guilty at first as I didn't finish my plate, but felt better when I saw people not finished their salmon, and a few changed their desert order for a lighter fondue au chocolat, rather than a cake.

My husband received his lamb rack and is was beautifully presented. It came with potatoes mixed with something he couldn't identify, and tajine of eggplant. Just by looking at his plate it was more attractive, and the lamb was rose and good according to him.

All accompanied by a half a bottle of a local rose wine. So, if you like big platters of food in North American style, this is may be a place for you. After eating at so many places in France and having no less than very good to excellent food, this seemed bland to us.

Cafe Marine, Bandol

I was looking for a sea food platters and often they are offered for 2, but my husband doesn't like raw sea food. So we came across this cafe and were seated at the terrace facing the fountain and the port. My platter of sea food was big and I had hard time finishing it. My husband chose the aioli which was also big. Sea food was served with red vinegar with onions, bread, garlic sauce, butter, mayonnaise on a side and lemon. I only used lemon and red vinegar which highlight the taste of sea food.

K'art Bandol

It was a windy evening and we decided to seat inside. As this was on July 14, most restaurants had tables reserved including the K'art. As we were seating the restaurant filled up, and many people had to come back later to get a table. One group forgot to mention a child and the restaurant couldn't accommodate a bigger table, as it is very small.

We ordered the 18E menus. Our choice was anchois a la catalane, onglet de boeuf saignant and creme brulee a la citronelle, with a good half of Bordeaux wine. Our son with his traditional steak and fries, and an included lemonade. Asked to cook more the steak hache.

The anchois were marinated and served with red bell peppers marinated as well. Delicious.

The onglet was very tender and perfectly cooked and came with delicious potatoes. Our son enjoyed them very much too. Followed by a delicious creme brulee.

Excellent quality for 53E.

Monday, July 30, 2012

La Marmite, Bandol

It was our second time there, and we chose the same menus except for desert, they don't have my beloved creme brulee anymore.

We were served 3 small glasses for apero, red bell pepper puree sauce, tapenade and a artichoke puree sauce.

The oysters were big and served with red vinegar sauce. The fish soup good as last time. Although the group at a table next to us asked what was served with the soup as it looked as mayonnaise, but it was la rouille.

The taureau was exactly the same, very good. La bleu au safran was served in a nice bowl, however this time the variation was a different fish, artichoke, and the sauce looked whiter. The mussels and gambas were perfectly cooked and tasty with the sauce. Not sure why they chose this particular fish (probably the fish of the day), but that sort of fish is very difficult to keep in one piece and make it to taste something. Some fish is tasteless unless you pan fry it in flour. Since this time the vegetables were fenouil, potato and artichoke, I guess the sauce had to be more delicate, and so I didn't taste much garlic. It tasted more like a fine cuisine refined plate, and less like a Provencal dish which I enjoyed last time.

For desert I chose croustillant au chocolat which was excellent an my husband had a panacotta very good too, but he thought my desert was more delicious. Our son with traditional steak hache and fries followed by an ice cream with cassis and strawberry (strange combination, but great for him).

The prices increased to 25E for the menus, but the choices are good. A great meal. I hope returning there if are to go to Bandol, which I think we will.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Le Lion d'Or, St Geniez d'Olt

This was our break stop at St Geniez d'Olt enroute to Gorges du Tarn drive and our next destination Millau. The restaurant is part of a hotel, but offered good menues and the restaurant terrace filled up at lunch. As appetizer it was a jam farci de salade russe with a green salad, very tasty. Then saucisse aligot. The portions were generous and I couldn't finish my aligot although it was delicious. All accompanied by a good rose wine. Creme brulee as a desert. The menus were only 15E and the child menu 8E.

Very affordable good restaurant.

La Table du Marais, Grolejac

This is a nice restaurant on the road between Grolejac and our camping. It has african decorations and music, the ambiance and the setting are pleasant. You have to reserve to get to eat inside a case (african style open gazebo). Otherwise they have a terrasse too. The setting is on a small lake and they have a corner for kids to play in the garden.

I ordered a duck confit and my husband too but in a menu with salade de gesiers.

His salad was good. My duck was a bit dry inside. His duck was a bigger piece and was better. It wasn't grilled on the outside but just left facon campagne. Everything that came with duck was very tasty and good. The cabbage, the potatoes, the tomato. We weren't served at the same time the main, but it was ok, I waited a bit. The personnel was smiling and very nice otherwise.

Les Pierres Rouges, Collonges la Rouge

This is a very good restaurant in a relatively touristy location.

I chose charcuterie platter and duck confit and my husband saw the gesiers salad, so he decided to try, and duck confit as well.

For the kids they had saussage with pommes dauphines. I asked if they could change for fries to be on the safe side. It caused some confusion in the kitchen although on the menu it was specified a choice garniture. The confusion possibly came from the owner's kid helping there. We had to re ask for a carraffe d'eau and wine. His mother was distracted while serving us. In any case the food was excellent. My platter was big and with a good sampling of charcuterie.

The duck confit was perfectly cooked: tender on the inside and crisp skin. So far, it was the best duck we had in this area. The plates were big with a lot of pommes dauphines, ratatouille, salad and onion confit. I couldn't finish mines as we had another hour of driving and I had to indicate directions to my husband. All accompanied by a good rose wine. Everything for about 53E.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Le Coin des Halles

This restaurant is located in an old house very close to Langeais castle. A big group touring the region was in the same room with us and as we sat the guide apologized for noise they would be making. I had no problem with this and answered her with a smile that we could be noisy too. In any case they weren't too loud (these were French tourists) and we could appreciate our meal.

My choice was Royale de foie gras with cantaloup and foie gras pieces nice and good. My husband decided to try asperges blanches (white sparagus) with oeuf poche and delicate sauce, on my recommendation as this is the regional specialty. His apetizer was very good. Then we both continued with lamb shoulder, perfectly cooked and tender served on couscous and caviar d'aubergines sauce. Accompanied by a rose wine.

Our son's appetizer was cured ham, followed by chicken and fries, and an ice cream. Very good restaurant.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Barbacane, Montreuil-Bellay

We walked around the castle a bit before choosing this brasserie facing the chateau.

The castle was closed as the television was filming a show there. In any case I wasn't sure it was worth 9E entrance fees.

I had duck parmentier and my husband a magret with cheries sauce. The parmentier was very simply presented but was delicious.

The magret was good, although I wasn't convinced by duck cherries combination. Fortunately the sauce was mainly on the side. I just loved the vegetable carpacio, it was very nice and very tasty. So good, I purchased a tool to make thin carpaccio slices later during our trip. The potatoe was delicious. The cheese plate consisted of 2 cheese pieces: 1 camembert and the other one a chevre. It was enough as the mains were big. Our son was happy with a pizza margarita, which unlike italian version was served with ham and was good too.

Tablapizza Creteil, Paris

We were invited to this restaurant by our friends living in Paris. It has a nice setting and good kid's menu for only 5E. Menu choices are affordable, however I didn't want to have too much bread and pizza, and opted for a lighter meal of a salad. Finally all four of us decided on salade fermiere. The kids had pizza. We all enjoyed the palette du sud with 5 different sauces and tapenades and good bread. The pizzas looked good. The salad was very big, but I found it very expensive for what you have, mainly vegetables, some chicken, egg and a slice of jambon du pays. I also found the salad quite tasteless and had to add some spicy oil on it. This could have been the same salad except cured ham as in Montreal, so nothing special. The good thing was the kid menu and at the end they made a doggy bag. It is an affordable restaurant with family atmosphere and serving affordable meals at noon as it is surrounded by companies.

To us it was more meeting our friends than a gastronomic experience and we had a nice time there.

Le Saint Jean, Montmartre, Paris

After visiting the Musee de l'air et de l'espace for more than 4 hours at le Bourget airport, we took the bus and the metro to Abbesses. The stairs are endless at that station to get up to Montmartre, and you recognize the tourists quickly, as none of us knew to take the elevator. Once at the top we understood why some people were waiting for the elevator, it is worth it.

As we exited the metro we were assaulted at once by people supposedly with petitions, one of the scams I've read about on travel forums. But no luck for them. It started raining and we ran to the closest cafe le Saint Jean. Luckily we took the last spot at the covered terrace outside with great for people watching at very typical Montmartre street, rue des Abbesses. The poor waiter was overwhelmed as many people arrived at once because of the rain. He apologized several times during our meal as he couldn't take care of everyone at once, and of resulting delay. But we weren't in a hurry and just soaked the Montmartre atmosphere, delightful.

The menu on ardoise was good with typical dishes and I hesitated between a duck confit, bavette a l'echalotte, but finally decided on a croque madame, idem for my husband and our son chose a croque monsieur. With a half of red wine. The croques came beautifully presented with a salad and fries and were delicious.

All for about 40E and we spent a very relaxing couple of hours.

Chez Papa, Paris, 2nd

This was our first meal in Paris this year on arrival to our hotel, we dropped our bags into our room and walked to Chez Papa with a stop at the Galeries Viviennes toy store called Si tu veux. It is a store from other times with wooden and old fashion toys. The prices are not cheap.

Anyway, we walked to the restaurant and chose a table on the terrasse. The wind became quite cold but we didn't want to walk back to our hotel.

I have ordered Salade Boyarde, which consists of salad with brebis bleu sauce at the bottom (if you get there) very tasty, delicious potatoes, cantal, and jambon du pays (cured ham) in a huge bowl.

My husband decided on a Salade Super Papa with same salad at the bottom, gesiers and foies, and lardons (bacon), cantal, toast chevre chaud. He enjoyed it very much and to him it was the best gesiers salad he had.

Our son went with omelet with cured ham. All with a pitcher of half of white wine.

A very good first meal for about 45E for the 3 of us, and a very good deal in Paris. I couldn't finish my salad as it was too big, but everything was delicious. Here is to a great beginning of our vacations.