“This is the best dining experience we’ve had in the Loire”, says Laszlo, halfway through the meal, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s always tricky choosing a restaurant for overseas visitors and I wasn’t sure which of our other favourites in Blois our lovely American/Hungarian/Romanian friends Anda and Laszlo had already tried. My Aussie friend Jane and I enjoyed eating on the terrace at Auberge de Launay in the summer of 2012, but Jean Michel and I have never been there together. It’s located about 20 minutes from Blois and 10 minutes from Amboise, just off the highway that runs along the Loire.
The light, airy dining room is nearly full when we arrive, which is a good sign. The staff are very pleasant and keep coming back to take our order as we are so busy catching up that we don’t seem to be able to get round to even look at the menu.
We finally order our drinks from a list of local fruit juices, wines and spirits. They come with some tasty little nibbles – a sort of puffy cheese stick and a light verrine.
For starters, we choose John Dory tartare and avocado purée, game pâté and wild mushrooms, and rillettes, a first for Laszlo. Rillettes are made with meat, usually pork or goose, finely chopped and cooked and preserved in fat. They are a speciality of Le Mans and Tours. I had the fish tartare and it was delicious.
Our main courses are duck with aniseed and celery purée, suckling pig trio (ham, rillettes, fried pig fat) with Brussels sprouts (Jean Michel’s choice but a little rich!), and lamb shoulder with aubergine caviar. I am a little disappointed in the lamb because I didn’t know that effilochée means that the meat is shredded.
Jean Michel and Laslo are having cheese. The platter of local cheeses all matured by Rodolphe Le Meunier at La Croix de Touraine, is very tempting. Laszlo is served first and chooses a blue-vein cheese. “You can have at least three”, I tell him, so he orders a couple more. Jean Michel proceeds to choose FIVE (my husband is a true gourmand!) so Laslo selects another one.
Anda and I are having dessert. We choose dark chocolate ganache and fig tart, both of which are very tasty.
At the sommelier’s suggestion we choose a bottle of saumur-champigny as everyone wants red.
A little extra point to mention – free wifi, which we appreciated because Anda was able to show me some of her lovely photos on Laszlo’s iPad. I’m waiting to see her Loire Valley collection now particularly if they are like her Amboise at sunset!Auberge de Launay, 9 rue de la Rivière 37350 Limeray, 33(0)2 47 30 76 82, firstname.lastname@example.org Closed Sunday, Monday lunchtime and Saturday lunchtime Lunch menu: Entrée of the day + dish of the day + coffee : €19 Entrée, dish and dessert of the day: €20 Dinner menu: Main + dessert: € 22 Entrée + main: € 23 Entrée + main + dessert: € 27 Entrée + main + cheese: € 30 Entrée + fish + meat + dessert: € 39 Cheese platter: € 8.50