Uncovering treasure is not an accurate science. I say this with an authority that I do not possess, as treasure and I are rarely, if ever, seen together or even spoken of in the same breath. The same can be said of Ikea and good food, which was why we had fled the Mall of Mammon and found ourselves meandering, in our furniture filled, hired white van, through the vineyards of Muscadet. We were searching for the elusive “bonne table” that is so often written and spoken of, yet so rarely eaten at. Time for searching is limited in the French countryside as hospitality at lunchtime only occurs in a two hour window. Outside of that window – well, you’re outside of the window. Disappointment was a hair’s breadth away; my eye was attracted by the sign on a vineyard declaring it to be Domaine de Noë, which was interesting, as the Noë grape is proscribed owing to the amount of methanol it produces, giving it a kick which makes that of absinthe reminiscent of mild cough mixture: and then, there was Chez Papa.
It had the look. It had the look of a place where people would stop to be restored. The car park had a scattering of ordinary family cars but, more interestingly, there were mountainous piles of “sarments”, or vine trimmings, which are a wonderful fuel for an open fire on which to cook. Just inside the front door was a fire on which to cook, next to which was pile of those same “sarments”.
There’s no question but that the good people who run this restaurant are sensibly trying to attract customers, of any and every sort, which would account for the “props” that proliferate. I liked (like) the place so much, that I wouldn’t have minded if the waiters came out singing, dressed like the Seven Dwarves – they didn’t, so I wasn’t tested on that insane declaration.
This is how I like to eat. A good terrine de joue de boeuf en gelee with a glass of local Saumur de Champigny. How often is one presented with a carte des vins written on a piece of paper taped to a small block of wood? Not often enough: this list was small and dealt solely with well priced, delicious wines of the Pays de Loire, which is where we were. On the back of the block of wood was written ” Demandez notre liste de Premiers Crus”. How’s that for understatement. No need to go through the litany of dishes, but it’s worth saying that they were all well cooked and not fucked about.
France unplugged is where we were. A table of ladies, of a certain age, enjoying oysters and good local Muscadet. Families at table, intent on the pleasure of eating and each other’s company. The care of a kitchen where the grill is fired up, with a bunch of fresh vine cuttings, to cook each single saucisse au Muscadet or boudin that is ordered. Finally, a wonderfully moist ( oh God, I’ve had to use the word) moelleux d’orange with a boule of dark chocolate ice cream. So good – and then the road home with blue skies and soft, white clouds. I was restored.
It looks like you and the ladies were well lunched 😉
This is all as it should be. If only the politicians would go away and leave the French to get on with life.
Too right, except they’re busy planning their retirement, placating their mistresses with expensive bagatelles ( or bagathims depending on their proclivities) whilst shouting at waiters in Le Grand Vefour:)
Yum. Yum. Yum.
You and MTM would get along, Roger. He loves treasure hunts for places like this. In every place we visit, he makes it his mission to identify the best place to eat by the signs, props and people.
It’s a good rule of thumb:)
That place is just so French. What a wonderful place to eat.
I think that you’d love it, Greg.
Thanks for the visit. I want to be there. Even if just driving in the car. Right now.
It’s so good to see everything looking as it should again.
A great find Roger, and wonderful use of ‘moist’.
I shall have to be remember how offensive “moist” can be:)
You used the “m” word…made me chuckle! Love places like this, and even driving a hired van full of furniture you managed to refuel in style. Glad the waiters weren’t decked out as the seven dwarves though…could have turned a moist situation into a damp squib 😦
How did it happen? I’ve carefully avoided the “m” word for so long only to find that one delicious dessert can bring out the worst in me.
Now this is my kind of “ladies who lunch”. 🙂 I wish we had something like this around here. Sounds like you had a lovely day.
Aside from carrying sofas, it was just about perfect:)
🙂 yes moving furniture isn’t high on my list!
I love this! Lucky you to have discovered it.
If you ever in the Nantes area, let me know and I’ll give you a link to the restaurant. It’s changed its name to La Table de Papa.
But did you find the table? i want one too and am sitting at a wobbly painted piece of old rubbish until the perfect table appears.. how divine to find such a gorgeous little place for some replenishment.. Loved the fireplace. I hate the word moist too, in fact i was thinking about words i hated just the other day and tittilate (sp but I don’t care) is another one – I hate that word. c
I can see that. Tittilate may have to be added to the proscribed list.We’re always sitting at wobbly pieces until the perfect thing appears – still waiting:)
ah well, searching the countryside is the perfect way to spend your waiting time! c
Works for me:)
I love the picture of these ladies lunching. That’s how lunch should be. Enjoyable foods, relaxing, and good conversations. So glad you captured that moment.
So glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for commenting.
The lunch must have had serious undertones: where are the smiles on the eager lunchers’ faces 😉 ?!
There’s nothing funny about serious eating:)
Oops, now I know better how to behave myself 😀 !!
It would seem that I am, ahem, also of a certain age.. I would be right at home there. I have an affinity for props myself.. What an escape it must have been.
Your opening photo speaks volumes, Roger. Great perspective.
I think you’d like it there, John.
I love places like this and wingert as we call vine cuttings here make for great firewood!
Really good use of something that could so easily be wasted.
Especially enjoyed you post today. Incredible photos that make remember why I love traveling in France so much.
“make me remember”. 🙂
Glad it brought back good memories:)
Oh, to be in France again. Swooning over here. . . .
Roger, these places I know so well. they are the best, full of surprises, comfortable as a pair of old slippers. Glad you found yours.
It restores my confidence when I find these little places – by chance.
Wow, how wonderful!! Sounds like a real treasure 😉
It’s nice when you unearth one like this:)
I really don’t know how you could make a day in the French countryside look more appealing than this. Gorgeous rapeseed field.
The colours are amazing at the moment. All the lanes are filled with flowers and the leaves on the trees are new born green.
I just wanted to say – like all those above in this column – how much I enjoyed this post. As someone who is too often outside the window, making do with stale bread and sausage, I know what a find this was.
You and me, Richard. I just love it when I find one those rare, and becoming rarer day by day, little simple restaurants that make good simple food. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult, would you?
Je lis le blog, et l’amour de France -de la France profonde – me monte au coeur. Paris, c’est pour les cons. moi, j’aime la compagne! A bientôt!
Nice one, Thomas.