Thursday, 19 May 2011

Nous Mangeons Très Bien

Before setting off on our holiday in France, Marion and I prepared ourselves for the anticipated culinary delights by losing about twenty pounds between us. We reckoned that that would do the trick and, combined with cycling about thirty kilometers every day, we wouldn't pile on so much weight that our holiday clothes would cease to fit.

So far we have eaten out in a number of St Martin De Re's acclaimed restaurants. As usual in a self catering house there are recommendations from the owners and from previous visitors so we followed the advice and had some great steak in Bistrot Marin on the quayside and a very fine meal at Le Serghi on the harbour opposite. We also tried dinner in a lovely garden setting called Cote Jardin hidden away in a side street. Each of these was great in its own way. Bistrot Marin had an excellent pub like ambience, friendly service and was clearly popular with the locals. Le Serghi has an exceptional chef and the location is superb although the wine list with basic local wine starting at around twenty euros seemed somewhat pricey. Cote Jardin could not match its romantic inside garden atmosphere with its food and service which were both ok but not of the standard of the others. All the meals came in at around 40-50 euros per head including wine and two courses (we tend to share a starter and dessert so that we aren't over faced).   

But, surprisingly, my favourite restaurant is not mentioned in either the house notes or the guest book. La Route Du Sel in Loix ( a gentle hour's cycling away) was popular with us last time we were on Ile De Re so we thought that we 'd give it another try despite its absence from the reviews. We were not disappointed and stopped by for lunch yesterday and again today. It's in a very sunny spot in the square by the church in this tiny village situated amidst salt marshes and it fills up at lunchtime as cyclists stop for refuelling. Although it specialises in savoury crepes there is also a wide choice of meats, salads and seafood on the menu, the cooking is of a good standard and the service extremely cheerful and friendly.

Today we shared this seafood salad as a starter. There was a nice mixture of tiny shrimps, mussels and other shellfish, nuts, avocado lettuce and sardines on toast with a piquant tomato sauce.

For my main course I had this amazing duck breast in a honey sauce. It was the best duck dish I have ever tasted and I am probably being churlish to mention that there were enough potatoes to feed a small army (it took some strong willpower to leave as much as I did as they were delicious).

For dessert we chose the cafe gourmand -  a super expresso accompanied by four tiny puds - a rice pudding, a chocolate brownie, a macaroon and a caramel mousse. On each day the bill came to around fifty five euros for two (we only had a small pichet of house wine although the wine prices are inexpensive). It's a spot that we will be recommending in the guest book and one that we'll certainly return to before we leave the island.