Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

A fancy dinner

During our prize winning stay at the Château de Pintray, we decided to use the dinner voucher that came with it on the first evening. As Lussault-sur-Loire is at only a 5 km drive from Amboise, we decided treat ourselves to a taxi. That way, we didn’t have to worry about the alcohol restrictions. Moreover, we weren’t sure about finding our way back in the dark, as the Château de Pintray is very isolated.

At our request, Mrs. R., our landlady had called a taxi, which arrived at eight o’clock on the dot. Hardly 10 minutes later, the pleasant young taxi driver dropped us off in front of the entrance gate of the ‘Pavillon des Lys’, at number 9 in the rue d’Orange. He made sure that we had his telephone number, and assured us that he would pick us up within 10 minutes of calling him after we‘d had our dinner.

he Pavillon des Lys is an elegant manor house with an inviting outdoor terrace. We were greeted by the Maître d’Hôtel who confirmed that the Conseil Général had booked a table for us. We handed him the voucher and were shown to a table in the courtyard to have our aperitifs.

The restaurant doesn’t have a menu card. During the day there is a three course market menu, and in the evening the chef proposes a seven course gourmet meal. We were asked whether we were allergic to shellfish or other possible ingredients. I just mentioned that I wasn’t too fond of offall dishes, but the headwaiter assured me that there weren’t any in the set menu. We sat outside in the sun, enjoying our aperitifs when several couples and groups of people started to arrive.

We were surprised to see how many potential patrons were turned down, because they hadn’t booked a table in advance. Apparently the restaurant was the latest hype in Amboise and ‘the place to be’ for gourmet food lovers. This was confirmed by Mrs. R. the next morning. She said that several of her hosts had tried to get in, but that you had to book several weeks and sometimes even months in advance to get a dinner reservation. That was two years ago, and we didn’t go back since. So I don’t know whether the restaurant is still as popular nowadays as it was then.

Personally, my friend and I found it slightly overrated. Although each and every of the seven courses was very well prepared and extremely nicely presented – like little works of art – the combinations of the different ingredients sometimes struck us as a bit too far fetched. It’s good for a chef to be creative, but it has to stay within reason … and we had the feeling that the young, and already very talented chef, was trying a bit too hard to bring on something original.

Our meal came with half a bottle of white Loire wine with the fish courses and half a bottle of red wine with the meat. As it was getting a bit stuffy inside, we asked whether we could have our after dinner coffee on the terrace. This was refused as they (I quote) ‘didn’t have enough staff’ to wait in the restaurant and on the terrace at the same time. Apart from that, service all throughout the meal was impeccable.

While having our coffee, we asked one of the waiters to call our taxi, which he did. We said goodbye and went out to enjoy the cool evening breeze while waiting for our driver. As promised before, he drew up by the front gate 10 minutes later. He delivered us safely at the Château where Mrs. R. had left the porch light on for us.



chm said...

Hello Martine,
I had the same experience in an upscale restaurant in Olivet, near Orleans, a few years back.
If I remember correctly, they served vanilla ice cream! Yacky!
And the check was "salé".

ladybird said...

chm: Fish and vanilla ice cream ?!!! Yuk! That reminds me of another 'novelty': lobster with diced Granny Smith apples! Martine