It was a warm, sunny day and the waiters opened the windows in the dining room shortly after we were seated. This not only brought the beautiful day inside, but was a nice bit of thoughtfulness because across the room, three Italians were smoking heavily.
When we were seated, we were presented with the menu and wine list. The wine list had an entire page of champagnes -- about 35 different kinds. Of course, we had to start the meal with a glass of champagne. And this might be a good place to mention the French attitude toward "cocktails." When you have lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant in France, you will almost certainly be asked if you would like an aperitif. The French will drink a glass of champagne, a kir (white wine with a dash of cassis liqueur, or perhaps peach or raspberry), kir royale (kir made with champagne –- delicious) or even an orange juice. They do not drink hard liquor before dinner, believing it dulls the palate. You may be offered a "coupe Americaine," which is whiskey.
My husband started his meal with a stuffed pig's foot, one of his favorite things and a specialty of this restaurant. He had a tender braised shoulder of lamb with vegetables for his main course. I started with a large raviolo (singular of ravioli, I believe?) stuffed with tasty shrimp in a sauce made with frogs' legs. I didn't pay attention to the preparation described on the menu, so my husband and I puzzled over what the little tender fishy morsels were -- they tasted like clams but were much too tender and meaty. It wasn't until we looked at the menu posted outside on our way out that I saw they were frogs' legs. (This was no problem; I like frogs' legs.) For my main course, I had roasted St. Pierre fish (also called John Dory). It was simply prepared in a butter sauce and was excellent. We made our cheese selections from a well-stocked cheese cart. For dessert on this late-spring day we both had "red fruits" (strawberries, raspberries, currants) with mascarpone sorbet. I've had sorbets made from several types of cheese -- mascarpone, creme fraiche, fromage blanc, and they are all wonderful. If you've ever had buttermilk sorbet, you'll know approximately what they are like. Lunch finished with coffee, small cookies and chocolates. It was a delightful, relaxing break in the day, the type of meal I heartily recommend to refresh one for further touring and champagne tasting!
June 24, 2001
From journal A Taste of the Champagne Region