Saturday, 26 April 2014

2 : Eating out in Saint-Gengoux

Saint-Gengoux-le-National is located approx. 10 km north of Cormatin along the Voie Verte, reason why many cyclists sooner or later end up there to find something to eat. Apart from a handful of bakers, always good for a cake, a quiche or even a (French) sandwich, Saint-Gengoux also has some restaurants.

Not really in town, but somewhere halfway Cormatin and Saint-Gengoux on the D981 is restaurant La Place in the hamlet with the same name. La Place is a dépendence of Les Blés d’Or in Cormatin. The food is good and reasonably priced. The restaurant often gets bus loads of tourists, because the kitchen is capable of catering for big groups.

Hôtel de la Gare
On the edge of town, near the old station on the Voie Verte one finds hôtel-restaurant de la Gare.
Early 2012 some friends invited us over for a lunch there. Although we had made a reservation for six, there was no table laid for us. However, one of the laid tables (linen napkins, proper wine glasses) was re-laid, this time with paper napkins and the typical glasses normally used wit the menu du jour. The restaurant has a bar and a dining room. The bar is meant for menu du jour (€ 12.50) or plat du jour only; the dining room is restricted to those ordering à la carte only. How they go about companies where some want a menu du jour and some want to order à la carte is beyond me. The reception was rather chaotic, and I thought the prices were a bit on the steep side. The available menus were € 20.00 (simple menu, starter, main dish and cheese), € 28.50 (starter, fish or meat dish and cheese) and € 34.00 (starter, fish and meat dish and cheese). One of the available starters consisted of an excellent buffet à volonté of various starters. The other dishes we ordered were nicely laid out and of very good quality.
La Jouvence
My verdict: if I want to spend a bit more money than usual for a meal, I know where to find better places with the same price around La Tuilerie de Chazelle. And if I want a simple meal in a place with a nice ambiance, Saint-Gengoux has more than one other place to offer than just Hôtel de la Gare. In a word: for the time being I will not store Hôtel de la Gare under “My favourites”.

In the centre, on the Avenue de la Promenade one finds restaurant La Jouvence, which is a “normal” French restaurant. It serves good food at very reasonable prices. A formula or menu du jour costs (order of magnitude) € 13.

For those who want something simple there is pizzeria Pili-Pili. It is located in the Grande Rue, a side street of the Avenue de la Promenade, and not really worth this flattering name. Although not exactly a place for a cosy candlelight dinner, the pizzas they serve are of good quality and the service is friendly and adequate. It is also a take-away.

Further Café du Marché near the lavoir is said to serve sandwiches.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

01b : eating out in Cormatin (2 of 2)

La Terrasse in Cormatin was run by a rather brusque lady, Mme Monique R., a woman requiring some instructions before use.

La Terasse, a few years back - Cormatin
We got on with her very well (which cannot be said for every one of her clientele) and we were very impressed with her cookery skills (grandmother's cuisine). It was for us a double shock to hear that, for serious health reasons, she had to sell La Terrasse. The restaurant did not stay empty for long though, and the new owner decided to renovate the rather old fashioned interior, to modernise the menu, to give the terrace itself a complete facelift and to buy the house next door in order to break through and to enlarge his indoor seating capacity. After the dust had settled La Terrasse new style has definitely established itself.

La Terrasse as of now, on a busy day - Cormatin
My first experience with the new La Terrasse was after a wreath laying ceremony on the 28th of June 2014. The local bars and restaurants in Cormatin serve, on turn, the vin d'amitié after the event, which gives "new" restaurants an opportunity to characterize themselves. La Terrasse came up with a big number of immaculate exquisite amuse-bouches, fitting for a good restaurant. We decided to try the kitchen of this place some other day. We grabbed our chance on the 8th of May 2015 (liberation day). After the wreath laying the mayor announced that the verre d'amitié was at La Terrasse, and since we often stay on in Cormatin for lunch in case the wreath laying takes place around noon, we decided to hang on in La Terrasse.

The longest parade since 2005 - Cormatin
Again this time there were amuse-bouches, and again they were a feast for the eye as well as the palate. We had to wait a bit longer than usual, but that could easily be explained by the fact that instead of the usual max. 25 suspects turning up this time the terrace was invaded by over 50 people. After we had sipped from the kir and had a go at the amuse-bouches, the meeting broke up and we went inside, into the newly opened part of the restaurant.

Wreath laying - Cormatin
Because we hardly ever eat a heavy meal for lunch, we decided to take only a main course, moisten it with a glass of local wine, and have only coffee for desert. I ordered a magret de canard, and for the first time in my life I was asked what cuisson I wanted. That is a very normal question where beef is concerned, but I was never asked that question with duck. The owner suggested rosé, and rosé it was going to be. At home I found out that the normal cuissons for magret de canard are bleu (red and bloody), rosé (pink) and bien cuit (well done). Normally I would have chosen bleu, but the rosé I had asked for was excellent and very tasty indeed.

Vin d'Amitié - La Terrasse Cormatin
The duck was served with a jacket potato and lettuce. The whole meal was very nicely presented, and the (cheap) wine we had chosen was excellent for the price we paid. This simple but more than adequate meal set us back only € 15 pp, and the price/quality ration was excellent.
Based on this experience we chose, when we were invited for a festive meal of our choice, for La Terrasse. Unfortunately this time it did not work out so well. My starter (escargots) was rather tough and chewy.

La Terrasse - Cormatin
My piece of beef, no Charollais but French, was streaked with sinew and as a whole also rather tough. The others were very happy with the salads they had for starters, but the magret de canard that was chosen by two had a peppersauce with it that was far too hot, even for my taste. Only the person who ordered poulet à la crême as a main dish was reasonably content. Everyone was very impressed with the deserts. The quality difference with the last time might be explained by the fact that the owner was not running the kitchen, as opposed to the previous occasion.

Poulet à la crême
However, the whole restaurant starts to resemble Fawlty Towers if the quality of the food is depending on the presence or not of a chef. The experiences only one month apart are too different to classify this place as a very good restaurant.
We had hoped that La Terrasse could fill the gap left behind by La Grange Finot in Bray (closed some time ago) or its successor La Régalade in Cluny (also closed down). Unfortunately this is not the case, hence we are still looking…..

Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

1a : Eating out in Cormatin (1 of 1)

This story marks the beginning of a project that has been in the pipeline for a very long time, but that finally gets off the ground as of now, and is actually finished. We have visited a number of restaurants around La Tuilerie de Chazelle, and we have given a (very personal) review of the establishments concerned. Since restaurants often change hands or disappear altogether, we will try to keep those articles as up to date as possible. The first place to be covered : Cormatin.

Cormatin is not really a place where one would find the highlights of French haute cuisine. However, there is more than one restaurant that serves good home cooked food. We will review those places in order of appearance, coming in from Chazelle.

Pizz'a Marco
Pizz’a Marco – Grande Rue
Marco has a good assortment of pizzas, all made on the spot. If you do not want a certain ingredient on your pizza, Marco will without hesitation deviate from his recipes. His pizzas have a very nice thin bottom and are well filled, which are musts for a good pizza in my opinion. Marco has a small terrace outside, but one can also eat inside. Although he is in this sense a small pizzeria, most of his pizzas are to take away. The prices range roughly from € 8 to € 10. For those who forgot to buy some wine: he also sells small and normal size bottles of white and red.

La Terrasse
La Terrasse – Grande Rue
La Terrasse has been closed for a short period of time, but has reopened on july 1st 2013 under new ownership. The interior has been renovated, new tables, chairs and parassols have been installed, in short, the old La Terrasse has made place for a completely new one. Although I always have had a soft spot for La Terrasse old style, the new place looks a lot more inviting. We have eaten there once so far. The service is excellent, the food is good (in stead of the Plat du Jour the place offers a Suggestion du Chef, which is slightly more expensive than what the previous owner had to offer) and La Terrasse had potential to become quite a competitor for its neghbours at Les Blés d'Or, reason why I have dedicated a separate blog to La Terrasse.

Les Blés d'Or
 Les Blés d’Or – Grande Rue
This hôtel-restaurant, located next to La Terrasse, has a slightly more extended menu compared to La Terrasse. In summer there are pizzas available. The service is excellent, the food is good, and there is also a terrace where one can sip a cold beer whilst watching the village life of Cormatin. The prices and the menu are similar to those of the neighbour. 

Café de la Poste, since early 2013 also under new ownership, shares the premises now (mid 2015) with the Tabac, and the owner has developed the place from a not so efficient snackbar into a proper restaurant. About the food as well as about the service we have heard nothing but positive reactions. It might result in a separate blog once we have tried it out.

Snackbar Le Hameau des Champs
Although Cormatin cannot boast a fast food joint like a kebab place, there are some alternatives available for those not too hungry. The campsite “Le Hameau des Champs” has a snackbar also open to those not staying there.
Also Bakery Roy (Boulangerie du Château) has opened a lunchroom cum tearoom next to its shop, where one can buy the baker's products.