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

Friday, 19 March 2010

Always stick to your first idea …

… a wise lesson my mother told me in the early sixties when I was in first grade at our local primary school. I had just received my monthly school report and the marks for geography showed a disappointing 9 out of 10. Disappointing yes, because I usually got a straight 10 out of 10 (I just loved geography! I won’t tell you how I did on maths, as I hated those).When my mother asked me what had happened, I told her that I had hesitated on one question. After giving it some extra thought, I had erased my initial answer and had replaced it by something else … Afterwards it turned out that my first answer had been the correct one. Hence my mother’s wise advice: “Always stick to you first idea.”

And this is exactly what we should have done that day in March 2009 when we decided to forget about the ‘Quai 5-7’ restaurant in Dieppe and follow the barkeeper’s advice.

March 2009: The quay of Dieppe harbour lined with restaurants.
Notice the clear blue sky!

Following his recommendations, we walked into the nearby ‘Tout va Bien’. The place, although very large, was crowded and extremely busy. This was definitely a good sign, or so we thought. When we asked the waiter for a table for two, he desperately looked around. At that precise moment, a couple by the window got up and put on their coats. The waiter quickly guided us to the now empty table. He diligently removed the empty coffee cups and replaced them by new cutlery and glasses. Next he handed us each a menu card and bustled off to another table where people were calling for his attention.

Having seen some fresh Dover sole on the quay during our little exploratory walk earlier that day, my friend immediately decided to order his favourite dish ‘Sole Meunière’ (Miller’s wife style sole: sole lightly dusted with flour and fried in a lot of sizzling hot butter until golden brown).I had a tartar of beef (raw minced beef, flavoured with an egg yolk, capers, chopped onion and parsley, Worchester sauce, Tabasco, pepper and salt).

Whilst waiting for our order, we tried to catch glimpses of the content of the plates that were delivered to the other tables. All in all it looked very promising. And then came the sole! Instead of golden brown, it had a fade greyish-green colour. From the head – which is usually removed before frying the fish – a blank white eye stared into our faces. The side-fins had not been cut off and the dark top and white belly skin were still there, covered in a sticky and cloddy crust of hardly fried flour. When my friend removed the unappetizing skin and lifted the first fillet from the bone, he saw that the fish had not even been gutted! The only positive thing that could be said for it was that is was very fresh!

To make a long story short, my tartar was okay but not exceptional and we both left about 1/3 of our meal. We washed it down with a bottle of white Sauvignon wine and ordered a dessert, something we rarely do. We had a ‘trou Normand’, an apple sorbet drowned in a generous splash of Calvados. This somewhat made up for the lousy food.

Leaving the restaurant we walked back to our car which was parked near the ‘Quai 5-7’ restaurant. Just when we passed the door, three people came out and the delicious smell of freshly cooked mussels and French fries floated towards us. Inside we heard the happy clinging of glasses and cutlery.

The moral of this story? Always listen to your mother and stick to your first idea!



Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I will remember that saying.. Horrible when you walk past where you thought about i the first place and so wish you had gone in .

Nadege said...

But now you know. Maybe the busy restaurants were cheaper? Unless you do some research, it is hard to know in touristic spots.

Jean said...

Very good advice - mums always know best.

ladybird said...

Ann, Guess what. When we retunrd to Dieppe in November the restaurant was being redecorated an therefore ... closed! So we still haven't eaten there!

Nadege, you may be right, as all the other restaurants served more or less similar low cost menus.

Jean, Don't let my mother hear you say that ... She'll never listen to my advice again :))