Friday, July 27, 2012

Bonne Continuation

Restaurant Grain de Sel

Let me preface this posting by saying that I hadn't met David Martineau until we ate at his restaurant about a month ago.  Hard to believe, since walking into his restaurant feels like coming to see an old and dear friend.

We noticed that the table setting was a bit different, with new napkins and napkin holders that have a fork and knife theme.  I would love to have these when entertaining my Tea Ladies!  He also had a typed menu for tonight's choices.

For starters, while deciding on what to choose, Karl enjoyed a beer and I tried a new Kir, a "Kir Rose" - subtle and delicious, almost creamy.

My entrée was "Gazpacho Andalou", a cold consommé with a perfect blend of tomatoes and veggies.  It was smoother than the gazpacho soups I've eaten in the past, which were more chunky.  Probably why they say "consommé".  It was served with croutons covered with garlic and olive oil, which were just the right accompaniment.

Karl had the Iberica Tapas plate, which as the name implies, has Spanish flavours.  There was salad, chorizo sausage slices, Lorno, Boquerones, Picadillos, Manchego curado.  Not sure what all the names mean, but it was all delicious!  He did recognize the herring slices with lemon, and cheese that tasted very much like Pyrennée Vache.  Smacking of lips implies great satisfaction!

When an entrée is served, we are usually wished "Bon appétit". When the next course arrives, the server usually says, "Bonne Continuation", wishing us continued enjoyment of our meal.

As my main course, I had chicken pieces marinated in coconut milk, then skewered on a brochette with cherry tomatoes.  There was a hint of lime.  Oh my, could anything be more tender!  This was served with Basmati rice and a lovely mushroom gravy, the mushrooms being "cèpes", which we first discovered in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.


Karl went Moroccan with his dish - a tajine of beef balls served "Kefta" style.  Again, rave reviews.

But if anyone should rave, it would be me with my dessert.  I had what I thought would be a simple and refreshing dessert: strawberries and raspberries.  But they were served in abundance in a fluted glass with a mint on top, with a spoonful of berry coulis and a spoonful of sugar on the side.  I don't know if there is a correct or incorrect way to eat this, but I would scoop up some berries, then dip my spoon in the coulis then into the sugar.  Each bite was exquisite!  It was so fresh that I swear the strawberries were being sliced on their way to our table. 

Have I told you that raspberries are my favourite fruit?

Karl went traditional with chocolate and vanilla ice-cream.  It is made locally, "artisanale" as they say, and it was sumptuous and rich and delicious.  It was topped with a generous dollop of Chantilly cream and a refreshing mint leaf.

And when we thought dinner was over and it was almost time to bid "bonsoir" to our host, he pulled out this incredible bottle of "Pure Folie", a strawberry liqueur made in Angers. He poured us each a glass with an ice-cube and sliced strawberry floating inside.  Not only was it pure ambrosia, it looked heavenly as well.

A perfect match to coffee, too!

So meet the artists, ahem, I mean chef and sous-chef: David Martineau, owner and Chef responsible for the main courses, and Nicolas, Sous-chef responsible for the entrées and the desserts.  These are no amateurs, but people who care deeply about the food they serve.  We can taste their passion.

Making everything so pleasant and so enjoyable is Magali, serving everyone with a smile and pleasant disposition. 

I tell you, going to the Grain de Sel is like going to a family member's home, only that family member doesn't shop at Costco and can cook up a storm!  The experience is warm, inviting, and ever so flavourful.

There was a hiccup with the credit card modem; try as they might, technology just wasn't cooperating.  David apologized and so as not to delay our departure, told us to come round tomorrow or the next day and pay then!  Coming from Vancouver, we don't encounter such trusting people after just two meetings.  You'll be pleased to note that they do accept cash.   By the way, the entire dinner, with pre-dinner drinks, wine, and coffee came to 44.80 euros.  Can you believe it?  Even by French standards, this is great value. 

There will be a time in the very near future when we won't be able to get into Grain de Sel without a reservation made weeks ahead.  I hope David will remember his Canadian friends when he's oh so famous! 

I can tell we've become friends because we parted with the traditional "bise", a bisou on both cheeks.

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