04 June 2014

Lunch at Le Caméléon in Maintenon

Maintenon is a small town just north of Chartres where there is a Renaissance-era château of the same name. Mon ami de longue date (not to say "old" friend) CHM and I had lunch in the town last Saturday. The restaurant we chose had an exceptionally long menu with a lot of choices for the first, second, and dessert courses, as you'll see below.

The day before, we had enjoyed a good lunch in Paris at the place now called Le Grand Bistro (ex-Bistrot de Breteuil) and we thought that the Caméléon in Maintenon served a lunch that was at least as good for half the price. At the Grand Bistro, the atmosphere was slightly upscale for a weekday lunch, but our waiter was efficient and easy-going. The clientele was older and people were more dressed up. It was pleasant.

At the Grand Bistro, the price was 44 euros per person, which included a bottle of wine for two people. At the Caméléon, our bill came to 48 euros, everything included.

In the small town restaurant, the atmosphere was much more populaire and "down-home." There was a crowd of regulars, and boisterousness rather than decorum was the word of the day. Many of the customers were younger and less well-dressed. It was noisy. I thought it was fun.

My photos don't do the food justice (the light conditions were less than ideal), and the food certainly wasn't fancy. However, it all seemed fresh and freshly prepared. The seasoning was near-perfect, though I did add a little salt to the salad. We were at the table for nearly two hours, though there was no long wait at any time.

« Salade de Saumon frais et crevettes » with a nice fresh-tasting vinaigrette dressing

With lunch we had a half-liter pitcher of rosé wine. It was a dry rosé that went well with the steak I ordered and with the seafood dish that CHM had, and also with the fresh salmon and shrimp salad that we had as a first course.

The « Bavette d'aloyau » (flank steak) with its peppersteak sauce was tender and tasty.
The little serving of zucchini, tomato, and green beans was garlicky and crunchy.

I didn't take any pictures of the desserts. I had a slice of lemon meringue pie and CHM had the house "crumbble" of apples with cinnamon.

The « Marmite du pêcheur gratinée façon dieppoise » was fish and shellfish (saumon, moules, calamars,
pétoncles, gambas — that's salmon, mussels, squid, scallops, and prawns) with
a creamy rice base and and au gratin topping.

Yesterday we had lunch in a restaurant in a village very not far from Saint-Aignan that was also really good. More about that over the next few days.


  1. I could read everything on the menu and would like to linger here for a few hours. the pix look VERY tasty indeed!

  2. I read every line of the menu, imagining each item's look and taste... yummm yummmm :) I love your restaurant posts!
    I'm going to a restaurant tonight here in St. Louis where I'll be getting pâté de campagne, beet salad with goat cheese, and a cold cucumber bisque (which is a delicious specialty of theirs). Can't wait! This is a restaurant that used to be, for many years, a "go to" French bistro style restaurant, in a Euro-style section of the city of St. Louis. Now, that place has closed, and this new incarnation is waaaay out in the suburbs, but the name is the same, and the menu is very reminiscent of the old place. It'll be my first time there. Balaban's

  3. I'm intrigued by the Tartare Poêlé - what on earth is that all about? P.

    1. Hi Pauline, two or three years ago I was in a restaurant in Paris when a group of English people came in. One of them ordered steak tartar. When the waiter brought it to the table, the man looked at it in horror and sent it back to the kitchen to be cooked. I laughed.

      Now it seems you can order a steak tartar lightly cooked. The time it spends in the pan is brief, and that's why they call it an « aller-retour ».

  4. Great post, great food! I've eaten at Bistrot de Breteuil several times, glad to know of the name change. Your new find for lunch looks wonderful, it's on my list, thanks.

  5. Actually, your pictures make the food look very appetising, and great for such a sensible price.
    It sounds like our kind of restaurant.


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