Saturday, 3 September 2011

Plat du jour

I have written about eating, restaurants and fast food on various other occasions, but I don’t think I have ever pointed out the advantages of a plat du jour or a menu du jour. Almost every restaurant offers these two things around noon: the plat du jour costs approximately € 8 and the menu du jour (starter, plat du jour, dessert, sometimes incl. a glass of wine) is approx. € 13. Since most French still have their big meal at lunch time, and since the prices are more than reasonable, plats du jour are sometimes sold out after quarter past one. There are even restaurants where one cannot order à la carte during lunch hours. Only the plat or menu du jour are available then.
But not only are the prices reasonable; the price-quality ratio is normally excellent as well. As an extra advantage I would like to mention that this is the occasion for the more adventurous to try out something they certainly would not order à la carte. An example is given below.
When we were forced by circumstances beyond our control to exchange our weekly lunch at Cass’ Crout’ (closed down) for something else, we stumbled upon La Petite Auberge, another restaurant cum pizza parlour in Cluny’s main street. On the first occasion we tried out this place the plat du jour happened to be a pavé du boeuf, which turned out to be an excellent piece of steak. After about ten weeks we had found out that they had a very wide range of different plats du jour, and even now, after about 4 or 5 months, I believe I had the same plat du jour only twice.
One of the ever recurring horror stories one hears whenever expats gather somewhere, concerns andouillettes. Every expat has tried it once, knowingly or unknowingly, and everyone agrees that they strongly resemble cut up car tires cooked in a rich crude oil. Because everybody seemed to be so horrified about those things, we bought them once in the supermarket. I strongly believe in not believing other peoples horror stories; I rather trust my own judgment. Anyway, the consistency was not too bad, but the smell that came off those things really put me off them after having eaten my second.
When I saw andouillettes as plat du jour one day, I reasoned, that if there ever was a chance to eat good quality and well prepared andouillettes, it was this. To my partner’s abhorrence I ordered the plat du jour and started to eat. The andouilettes were indeed filled with finely cut-up intestines and other spare parts of various animals, but the consistency was digestible, the taste was not horrible, and it did not smell awful. Had I known what they would taste like, I would not have ordered them, but given the fact that I wanted to try them once, I could not have chosen a better occasion.

The moral of this story: the plat du jour is generally a good bet for a good quality meal, and for those who insist on trying typical French horror story meals such as tête de veau or andouillettes, they have the best chance that these dishes at least are of good quality and well prepared.

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