We wake up quite late and realise we’re going to have to hurry up a bit if we’re to go to the market and still arrive at 12.30 in Vendôme for our anniversary (of-the-day-we-met) lunch at Pertica, an up-and-coming success that Jean Michel has read about in the local newspaper La Nouvelle République – the one we starred in recently!
At the market, we spilt up to get some money out of the D.A.B., buy the oysters for Sunday, then the rabbit and chicken, followed by eggs, fruit and vegetables, coffee, more vegetables, local Les Grouets biscuits and cheese. The market is packed so it takes a good hour. At least we don’t have fresh pasta, fish and scallops to buy as that would have meant another 3 stalls.
We go home and quickly sort everything out. I change my muddy shoes so I won’t look too countrified while Jean Michel phones the restaurant and says we won’t be there until closer to one, but they are fine about that.
When we arrive in Vendôme, we park right in front of the restaurant which is in the main shopping street, since everything else is closed for lunch.
We enter and wait for about 5 minutes before anyone greets us. There only seem to be two people serving and they are both giving their undivided attention to the patrons already seated. That could be positive or negative. The décor is a stark mix of modern and natural.
Eventually we are seated and the menu is explained to us. There are three possibilities : entrée, main and dessert for 32 euro, entrée, two mains and a dessert for 45 euro and a six-course meal for 70 euro, but no indication of what we are going to eat. We choose the 4-course meal and are asked if there is anything we don’t like (I say turnips and offal). It’s now up to the chef to decide what he is going to give us.
Jean Michel orders two glasses of champagne and we get ready to celebrate.
The amuse-bouche arrives and turns out to be parsnip mousse with an aniseed-type spice. Hmm, I’m starting to wonder about the rest of the meal. Serving parsnips as an appetizer suggests that the rest might all be based on those “forgotten vegetables” that no one (understandably in my opinion) eats any more.
The starter arrives and my suspicions prove to be grounded. Baked celeriac (a bland root vegetable) and thin slices of pear with some sort of edible grass. Groan. It didn’t occur to me to mention celeriac. I don’t mind if it’s drowned in remoulade sauce but baked, on its own, is not brilliant. Jean Michel, who eats everything, agrees.
The fish course comes next, with two tiny pieces of mackerel and old-style pears i.e. the sort that aren’t sweet. Yes, well. Also, pears are not among my favourite fruits.
Next comes the meat course. OK, I forgot to mention that I’m not that keen on white beans either, especially if they are not cooked properly. The two small pieces of pork are tasty enough, as are the slivers of chestnut. I’m not convinced that the little puddle of passionfruit purée ressembling an egg-yolk enhances anything though. It’s marginally better than the other two courses.
By now, Jean Michel is apologizing for such a bad choice. It’s hardly his fault – the article in La Nouvelle république gave a rave review, and talked about a new take on traditional cuisine … I’m wondering what the dessert is going to be.
Pumpkin purée and a little biscuit-like cake each. Tasty enough but the lemon cream squashes out the side of the cake which requires very careful eating.
I have to say that this type of food is not my scene. It definitely doesn’t not flatter the taste buds. Les Hauts de Loire can run rings around them all.
You might also be thinking that there are a lot of things I don’t like. Well, it’s not true – it just happened that every single one of them (with the exception of frogs’ legs) was on the menu!
After walking around in the cold for a while, we wander into the covered market where there is a second-hand fair and pick up 12 plates for our clock dresser. “Why twelve?” asks Jean Michel. “Because I counted them. That’s how many our dresser takes”. He can’t get over the fact that I knew how many we needed! At 10 euros, they’re a real bargain.
Then we go to Rodolphe’s to pick up some nice traditional French pâtisseries made of chocolate to eat in front of the fire when we get home ! None of this new wave cuisine for us.