16 January 2016

A country restaurant in France

Most if not all people eat a few meals every day. I know I do. It's a biological necessity, except for an occasional fast day. And those are very, very occasional for me. In France people say that it's a bad idea to skip meals, and that a meal should include meat, fruits and vegetables (whether cooked or raw), cheese, and bread. Wine is optional.

I figure if I have to eat every day, and since I have the time, I might as well cook my own food. It's a lot less expensive than buying cooked food at a shop, supermarket, or restaurant. Going out to restaurants can be fun when you share the experience with other people, but it's more a social occasion that it is a purely food experience for me. When I cook my own food, I control the menu, the ingredients, the cooking techniques, and the portion size. I like that.

Here's a photo I took out a back window just after we had a brief snow shower yesterday morning.

Of course, once in a while it's good to go to a restaurant to see how the other half lives and eats. Here's an example from a restaurant where we had lunch one day back in early December. I don't think we've been to a restaurant since then. This restaurant, Le Moulin de Chaudé, is is a village called Chemillé-sur-Indrois, a 20- to 30-minute drive south of Saint-Aignan, between Genillé and Montrésor. Walt posted a photo of the restaurant yesterday.

This shot gives you an idea of the look of the dining room at the Moulin de Chaudé restaurant in Chemillé-sur-Indrois.

As Walt said on his blog, we and the friends we were having lunch with were the only customers in the restaurant that day. The lunch cost us 45 euros per person, or about 50 U.S. dollars, and included an apéritif cocktail, a starter course, the main course, dessert, and coffee. And wine, of course — two bottles of a Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil cabernet franc red.

We were in the restaurant for about three hours, if I remember correctly. Here's an excerpt from the menu. It lists the main courses — les plats principaux — on the day we had lunch there. I'm not sure how often the menu changes.


Let me translate those:
  • Meat pie made with hare and foie gras
  • Slow-cooked beef chuck served with deep-fried potato & carrot croquettes and smoked eel
  • Rib-eye steak grilled on a wood fire, served with French fried potatoes, mushrooms, and pepper sauce
  • Monkfish served with white beans cooked with imported ham, garnished with a fish-soup foam
  • Duckling breast served with a puree of pumpkin au gratin, braised endive, and orange sauce
Hare, foie gras, smoked eel, fish-soup foam, duckling... it was pretty fancy, with some exotic ingredients. The menu is fairly limited, and the owners pride themselves on that. They told us that a restaurant with a very extensive menu is a restaurant where food is not being prepared fresh. Instead, you're getting vacuum-packed (sous-vide in French) or frozen, pre-cooked food. The food at the Moulin de Chaudé is made to order using fresh ingredients.


Walt and I both had the entrecôte grillée (rib-eye steak) with steak fries and mushrooms. The photo above shows you what it looked like. It was tender and delicious. We enjoyed the fried potatoes, the mushrooms, and the pepper sauce. I figure I could have made the same thing at home for a lot less money, but the restaurant experience was fun. We got plenty of attention from the woman who runs the dining room while her husband is busy in the kitchen.

More about the meal tomorrow...

26 comments:

Susan said...

A limited menu is one of the things I look for in a restaurant. Like the chef you spoke to said, a huge menu means stuff doesn't turn over, is being bought ready prepped and/or frozen, and isn't made from fresh local ingredients.

Suecee said...

Memories of a good meal with friends are gold dust whether home cooked or at a restaurant. The restaurant decor looked very inviting too - clean and comfortable without being over-dressed.
Saint-Nicholas-de-Bourgueil is our very favourite wine. We love the dryness of the tannin. Unfortunately we don't bring much back to the UK with us as it is not a long lasting wine and doesn't travel that well.

Ken Broadhurst said...

I thought St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, a cabernet franc, could be stored and aged for a very long time, given the right conditions (a dark, cool cellar). My reading right now tells me that it depends, however, on which soil in the appellation the SNdB grapes are grown. Vines that grow on gravelly soil produce wines that mature quickly, while vines grown on tuffeau (limestone) soils produce wines that can be aged for 5 to 10 years.

chm said...


Sounds like an apetizing menu in a friendly looking restaurant. Spelling mistakes in the menu are included!

ReplyDelete

Ken Broadhurst said...

Right. No extra charge. They ran out of S's.

Ken Broadhurst said...

And E's.

Bob Rossi said...

Your explanation for why you like eating at home is right in line with mine, with one addition -- I also can control the wine list. Restaurant wine prices are a major reason why I hesitate to eat dinner out in America. The markups in France may often be similar, but they start with a lower base. As to St. Nicolas de Bourgueil; you're spot on about the aging issue. One wine importer, who grew up in the Loire and imports a few Loire wines to America, told me that Cabernet Franc has the capacity to age for decades. There's a Bourgueil producer that has some wines in their cellar going back to the late 1800's.
And one more typo -- one of the "restaurants" in the 3 "restaurant" sentence should be "menu."

Carolyn said...

Usually what I pick on a restaurant menu is a dish that requires technique I don't have or ingredients I can't match at home.

I agree about the limited menu being a good indication of quality. Here's a link to one of our favorite restaurants in the part of France we like to visit. It offers only three choices for each course. Everything is prepared to a high standard and the price (for the menu) is unbelievably low for the quality.

http://lacroixdor.free.fr/?page_id=25

Ken Broadhurst said...

Thanks Bob. Fixed the typo -- wonder why my fingers typed "restaurant" twice. I like Bourgueil wines, and I've been to Bourgueil and Restigné to taste and buy wines. I've never yet been to St-Nicolas, but Walt and I are planning to drive over there this spring.

Evelyn said...

I remember tasting some of those Bourgueil wines ;-) A restaurant experience is nice for conversation- I would have enjoyed this one because it would have been very quiet so I would have been able to hear. I also like the simple decor with a warm fire.

Ken Broadhurst said...

I would enjoy trying that restaurant at La Croix-d'Or one day. They have quite a range of menus.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Remember going to see Amy and Laurent at Restigné? That was fun. Bourgueil wines are fruity and dry enough to be tasty.

Ken Broadhurst said...

The restaurant Carolyn writes about is half way between Mortagne and Bellême, very close to where we all stayed in 2011. Too bad we didn't know about it then.

Diogenes said...

The restaurant looks like a place I'd enjoy, and the entrecote would have been my first choice too. I know Danny would have ordered the duck with pumpkin. Thanks for sharing the pictures. And nice pic of the vineyard in sun.

My French isn't good enough to pick out the spelling mistakes in the menu, lol.

Seine Judeet (Judith) said...

I know that I would have enjoyed it!

Evelyn said...

We had a wonderful day with Amy and Laurent in Restigné- a great memory with some good wine, food and company

Evelyn said...

I noticed that on the map...that was a great trip!

chrissoup said...

That looks terrific. I think I would have tried the fish or the duck. Tony would have taken the duck.

Ken Broadhurst said...

I think I was planning to cook duck that week, so I went for the steak. Walt and I were both curious to see what the restaurant's version of steak au poivre, W's birthday dinner, would be like. I have to say it was very good. The pepper sauce was very different from the sauce we make, and we liked it. I should have asked for the recipe. And the steak, as I said, was tender and tasty. We decided that day to go to the butcher shop and get a really good piece of entrecôte for the birthday dinner scheduled for three weeks later.

Ken Broadhurst said...

If you look at the Moulin de Chaudé web site, you'll find a menu. It has even more typos on it than the printed menu posted outside the restaurant.

Ken Broadhurst said...

I know I did.

Ken Broadhurst said...

We've corresponded with Carolyn about the possibility of our driving up to the Perche region to meet her and her husband for lunch one day in 2016. We'll see if we can work that out and maybe the Croix-d'Or will be the restaurant we choose.

Suecee said...

Thanks Ken for taking the trouble to check out the St Nicholas wine. I admit we only tried once to bring large quantities home with us and that was about a decade ago. We assumed our bad experience would always be the same and never tried again. We will think again when we next come over. A good excuse to indulge in a wide variety of Bourgueil and St-Nichols de Bourgueil - with lots of degustation.

Bob Rossi said...

Ken, I just saw this thread because you mentioned that you had blogged about this restaurant. Are the Amy and Laurent you mention Amy Plum and Laurent Bonnois? If so, he's the wine importer I mentioned above. When I first met Laurent in the US he was married to Amy and living in Restigné.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Yes, Amy and Laurent are the same couple you are referring to. We met them through blogs maybe 7 or 8 years ago.

Bob Rossi said...

Amazing! I think I last saw Laurent here in Maine about 3 years ago. He is the American importer for the Dinocheau Pinot d'Aunis I mentioned elsewhere.