December 10, 2012

A GOOD FISH LUNCH

‘Tis the season to make merry here in the UK now, and all the restaurants are doing brisk business.  The good ones are well booked up with discerning diners and the not so good ones are cramming them in for drunken office parties.  I’ve been to a few of those over the years and have reached the age where I prefer my food to be well cooked and nicely served rather than to just race through it to get to the disco and the free booze !!

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One of the things that we didn’t expect when we first spent Christmas and New Year in Le Grand-Pressigny is the popularity of fish, especially shellfish, at this time of year.  The huge party-sized platters of oysters, prawns and other shellfish looked beautiful as people carried them very carefully from the supermarket to their cars.

I was thinking about this the other day as I perused yet another dreary pub menu, predictably offering turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas pud !!  It reminded me of one of our favourite restaurants in the Loire which is a fish restaurant.

fish lunch

The Restaurant “Au Gardon Frit” at Pouzay is well worth a visit if you like your fish.  We had lunch there on one of the few nice sunny days during our October holiday.  It was a Monday, which is not traditionally a good day to eat out as many restaurants are closed and certainly not a good day for fish.

But we had eaten there a couple of times before, knew they would be open and knew the fish was good so off we went.  We were not disappointed.

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The interior is not posh at all, rustic and homely in fact, but the food is very good and the service is excellent too.  In summer we have eaten outside in the courtyard, which is lovely and well shaded.

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Each place is set with a rather scary selection of what looks like medieval surgical instruments!  When you see the huge plateaux de fruits de mer coming out of the kitchen it’s clear to see why you might need all of them.  We have yet to pluck up courage to try one for ourselves, not being entirely sure what might be what and indeed whether it is still alive.  One day perhaps !!

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We opted for the 23€ menu which was much more conservative and perfectly delicious.  A fishy amuse bouche followed by a smoked salmon starter, and a hearty main course.

 fish lunch25  fish lunch27 fish lunch28 fish lunch29 We can never resist crème brulée when it is on the menu and this was served, naturally, on an oyster shaped plate !!

After coffee we strolled past the restaurant down to the river for a leg stretch and to admire the view of the Vienne, which was pretty full.  Little did we know it would be even fuller a week later – it rained and rained and rained for most of our two-week holiday.

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So if you fancy treating yourself to a nice fishy lunch this Christmas, I would recommend the Au Gardon Frit.  Or at least, click on the link to their website here to experience the wonderful sound of seagulls and waves crashing over the rocks – this brought Lulu rushing to press her nose against the computer screen, eyes wide and ears up !!  I wonder if she thought it was cats ??

fish lunch29b Have a good week !!

9 comments:

  1. Mmmmm this post has made my mouth water. We have for years had fish for Christmas instead of turkey. I always ordered a whole salmon in S. Africa and for the first few years in the UK with family I did the same. Now it is only two of us so we can have pretty much anything.
    We were surprised our first year in France though for Christmas with the boxes and boxes of oysters in every shop! If you have seen my email you will know that this year, Christmas day will still be a surprise for us this year :-) Take care D & N

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  2. Everything about this looks and sounds delicious. I would love to take that walk after that perfect meal. I love the simple and charming look of the place, as well as the instruments of torture (although I'm sure I'd hurt mySELF if I picked one up).

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  3. This looks delish! and we'll definitely put this place on our list of eateries to visit :-)
    We are both real fans of seafood and always do a seafood platter on Christmas Eve. We assemble it ourselves [neither of us is too keen on whelks and the like]: crab, langoustines, prawns and lobster or sometimes oysters.
    Christmas day I think I'll do a duck with sweet & sour cherries ... but this could be subject to change ;-)

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    1. Your duck with sweet and sour cherries sounds yummy - a lovely change from turkey I should think.

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  4. My mouth is watering at the sight of all that lovely fish, Jean, though I'm not a fan of shellfish. I'm always amazed at how hard it is to get decent fish in British restaurants. You would think that being surrounded by sea would make fresh fish commonplace. Thankfully our local supermarkets are staring to stock more fresh fish.

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    1. Perpetua, we have several restaurants around us in Derbyshire that do excellent fish, which is amazing considering we are as far away from the sea as you can get in the UK.

      However, most of our local fishmongers have gone and all we can buy to cook for ourselves is what is on offer in the supermarkets, unless we can get to the markets in Sheffield which often have more variety.

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  5. Thanks for this, Jean. We both love fish so I have made a note in my little grey book.

    The photographs and description are in stark contrast to a 'Christmas menu' meal we had on Saturday evening. Although it started with a delicious fish pie, the baked cod topped with tomato and crab butter was inedible with the whole plate swimming in cheap, nasty tasting butter! The christmas pud was microwaved to within an mm of it's life and again inedible. I think I feel a blog post coming on...

    We shall also be eating seafood on Christmas eve (although very expensive in ski areas!) and a bird in a bird in a bird for our evening dinner on Christmas day. I like Antoinette's idea of the sweet and sour cherries to go with it ...

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    1. Gaynor, those Christmas menus can be horrid, I avoid them if possible. They are wonderful if done well but you so often end up with what is basically a mass-produced disappointment. It's profiteering masquerading as cooking with Christmas as the excuse. So dishonest.

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  6. My mother got out shrimp only at Christmas and Thanksgiving - so I associate sea food treats with holidays, yes. We plan to have real proper smoked salmon, no rubbish - at Christmas.

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