Last month I had to conduct a massive booze cruise to the north of France, in particular to bring back over 200 bottles of wine for a big party I was organising. So me and a mate piled into GrubsterMummy's car and drove to France. Specifically we were headed to Montreuil, a small town in the Pas de Calais which is home to The Wine Society's French operations - a much reduced list to choose from, but with the added incentive of a guarantee that each case would be at least £20 cheaper than buying from the UK.
Of course, no trip to France would be complete without stopping off to enjoy the country's famous culinary skills. So, on the advice of my boss, we came off the autoroute at Wimereux and sought out the finest lunch our crispy new €uros could buy us. We hit La Liégeoise in the Hotel Atlantic. The name gives it all away – the hotel is perched right on the Atlantic coast and you sit in the dining room looking out at the ocean. On good days (which, sadly, did not include the day of our trip) you can take coffee on the terrace.
Our meal was a set meal – three courses, two glasses of wine per head and coffee for €30. Nowt bad.
Boys being boys, we rejected the fish and vegetarian options and dived straight into the good stuff. But before we ever got there we were presented with a little trio of appetisers: salmon mousse wrapped up in smoked salmon, a little onion tarte accompanied by a fishy mousse and a third mousse with a distinctly ginger flavour and little picked vegetables. My friend's comment: "They certainly like their mousses, don’t they?"
By the way, if I am vague about the contents of things in this review it is for one reason only: I was not always entirely certain what I was eating. My French doesn't go that far (last time we did this trip, in a cheap and cheerful little restaurant in Boulogne, I accidentally ordered horse meat for three of us), the waiters' English went less far, and my friend's French is non-existent. So it was a very much a game of gesticulation and guesswork to figure out some of what we were eating.
We kicked off, however, with a dish of foie gras de canard. Always a firm favourite. The restaurant was even happy to substitute one of our glasses of free wine for a sweet wine to keep the starter company, which was nice.
The main course was a perfect example of the language barrier causing problems. We had thought we were getting grilled venison. We ended up with poached guinea fowl. Don’t ask how we got there. Still, it was nice enough – albeit with yet another mousse that really didn’t go. I can't tell you what flavour it was, but it was not particularly nice.
Pudding we substituted for a cheese plate, and were given three different cheeses, served with apricot and prune compotes. The waited explained what they were but we didn't understand. Again, nice enough.
Coffee came with little petite fours – guess what, more mousse! This time a mango mousse on top of a green apple compote. There were also sweet little passion fruit and white chocolate truffles.
Overall, the term I'd use is 'nice'. I wasn't blown away by the meal, and there was perhaps an element of trying too hard on display. But otherwise, it was good and very decently priced.
- GrubsterBoy -