04 August 2010

Lunch at Le Mange-Grenouille

Walt told me yesterday that he is planning to post today about our lunch Monday at the Mange-Grenouille restaurant in Saint-Aignan. I decided this morning to do the same. It was CHM, who's back in Paris now, who invited us to lunch at Saint-Aignan's best restaurant (in the opinion of many). It's located near the bridge, on the main street that leads up into the old town.

The patio at the Mange-Grenouille restaurant in Saint-Aignan

It was a sunny to partly cloudy day, and the weather was warm. We hadn't reserved a table, and we weren't sure whether we'd be seated inside the restaurant or out on the patio. I had tried to call for a reservation the night before, but the restaurant is closed on Sunday nights, I found out, and there's nothing on the answering machine recording about reserving by leaving a message. So we took our chances.

The 14€ lunch menu is written on a little blackboard
that the waitress or waiter brings to your table.

When we arrived, the woman who greeted us said at first that all the outdoor tables were reserved, but then she looked at her log and said, oh, there's been a cancellation. You can have one of the two front tables outside — you choose. That was nice.

My faux-filet in a pepper-cream sauce was served rare
and was delicious.

Walt has pictures of most of the food, so I'll just post one of my steak, along with the wine bottle and the after-lunch coffee. The steak was a faux-filet, sauce au poivre et à la crème — a strip steak in a pepper-cream sauce. CHM had a skate wing in a shellfish-reduction sauce (aile de raie, fumet de crustacés). I didn't get a decent picture of CHM's plate.

We chose a wine from the village of Saint-Romain-sur-Cher,
just up the road from Saint-Aignan. It was a 2008
Pinot Noir from the Domain de la Renne.

The restaurant serves only a set menu at lunchtime; there's nothing offered à la carte. But for your 14 euros, there's a lot of choice — two starter choices, and three main courses. Then either dessert or a cheese plate. We had a bottle of local Pinot Noir (15 euros) and then coffee — espresso of course. The service was friendly and efficient, and all the food was really good.

And we all had coffee to finish off the nice lunch.

Talking with CHM afterward, we decided that the name of the restaurant, Le Mange-Grenouille, must be a franglais invention. Mange-grenouille is not a set expression — at least not in French French. There is a hotel/restaurant in Québec called L'Auberge du Mange-Grenouille, and information on its web site leads us to believe the expression is a literal translation of the Canadian term "frog-eater" — a term of derision English-speaking Canadians used to use to describe their French-speaking compatriots.

There were no frogs' legs offered on the lunch menu on Monday. Thanks to CHM for a fine dining experience.


  1. As I said on Walt's blog, "is this the place we ate" Yes it is and the only thing missing was you.
    Great meal and we hope to return one day.

  2. Hi Ken,

    Boy, does this post really make me want to be back in Ste. Aignan!

    On the menu board is listed the plat du jour; what would it be and what is the price? It looks like p.50 Euros.

  3. Ken... it could also mean "Eat small potatoes" as the baby new potatoes are sold as such under a hiked price!

  4. Bill, the plat du jour was 8.50 €, and we didn't ask what it was.

    Tim, are you confusing grenouille (frog) with pommes grenaille (a variety of potato) ?

  5. Eh oui Ken
    On entend cette expression péjorative ' Frog" dans certains coins.
    Here "pommes grenaille" are sold as "grelots" and there is a steak restaurant in Montréal ( the pieces of meat are cured for 28 days) that serves the meat with des "grelots fricassés" sometimes in Summer. To die for !!!

  6. That is such a nice-looking setting! I looked at the outdoor table and thought, "Oh, my, it's way too hot and humid to eat outside.".... and then remembered that it's NOT 101° in Saint-Aignan, like it is here again today!

    Now... off to see what Walt wrote :))


  7. The restaurant is so pretty, it was worth seeing on both blogs. Dessert looks great...

  8. Ken, Did you know that it was the 'Mange-grenouille' that "brought us together"?:)

    Indeed, in the spring of 2008 I was surfing the internet looking for a restaurant in Saint-Aignan as it was close to Valençay where we wanted to visit the castle.

    Google directed me to your post about a birthday dinner you had attended there. If I'm not mistaken it was the 80th birthday of the lady you bought your house from?

    Maybe we should go to the Mange-grenouille the next time I am in town! Martine

  9. Martine, yes, I do remember that we met you because of the Mange-Grenouille restaurant. Neighbors have told me that the restaurant has new owners. The food is still very good, heureusement. Funny coincidence: Josette, the woman who sold us our house, came by this afternoon to see the progress we're making on our new loft space. She is now 83 years old.

    Judy, no, our temperatures right now are in the high 70s F. Very pleasant.

    Alex, c'était vraiment très bon. J'y retournerai, au Mange-Grenouille.

  10. Frog-eater as a term of derision for French people was used in England by the time of the Napoleonic wars (about 1800). The first known use of Frog for Frenchman was in Fanny Burney's novel Evangeline. Alas, my OED is at home so I can't be more precise.

  11. No Ken,not directly! One of our market stalls here in Grand Pressigny always misspells grenaille and sells grenouilles of which ever variety is in season... currently Charlotte [at 5,90€ a pop! Sorry, a Kilo].... he also sells grenoilles on occasions.
    It's probably just his handwriting in a hurry... but it give Pauline and I a laugh. We'll see what he's come up with tomorrow.

  12. Ah reading the comments is fun today! Interesting you, Martine found because of Le Mange-Grenouille. Google is our friend, non?

    DH, I and our friends also dined with Ken and Walt there in December 2004. I don't think it had been open long then. I do remember that we enjoyed our evening and dinner companions.

    Good to hear about Josette's visit! I'm glad she is still visiting and curious.

  13. Tim, thanks for the explanation. That's funny. And that's expensive for potatoes, considering you can get a 2.5 kg sack of charlottes for about 2 euros at Intermarché or SuperU. I have to say the King Edward potatoes Jean gave us are quite versatile. They are excellent roasted, or as frites, and also as potato salad.

    Hi Evelyn, I do remember that evening in December 2004. It was a lot of fun and the food and company were good. The Mange-Grenouille opened its doors sometime between our arrival in Saint-Aignan in June 2003 and your visit in late 2004.

    Susan, I figured "frog-eaters" was British but had no evidence. The Robert dictionary says the French term un rosbif for an Englishman dates back to the 19th century as well, and gives mangeur de rosbif as the old expression. French people have told me they call the English rosbifs because when they go out in the sun their skin turns bright pink, like the inside of a good roast filet of beef.


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