Friday, September 6, 2013

Review : Le Puits d'Enfer, Chateau d'Olonne, France

When we go to France on holidays, we usually rent an apartment or stay in a mobile home campsite.  We love the freedom on being able to cook or go out to try the local food.  Usually, the accommodation isn't very central and somebody (that would be me...) has to drive to find anywhere to eat.  Not this year.  We were absolutely blessed with our accommodation in Chateau d'Olonne because not only did it overlook the sea, but it was 200m from the nearest restaurant which happens to be Le Puits d'Enfer.

It was the start of the summer season and we decided to eat out on Saturday night, so we locked up the apartment and set off for the long 200m stroll to Le Puits d'Enfer for dinner.  Because the resort was quiet, we assumed that we'd have no problem in grabbing a table.  Wrong.  The restaurant was absolutely packed to capacity.  Dreams of my "cooked for me by somebody else" dinner were fading fast until I had a brilliant idea.  We could eat outside on the deserted terrace.  The waitress clearly though we were totally bonkers until I explained that we were Irish and to us, the temperature outside was positively tropical.  She relented and led us to a table overlooking the sea so we were entertained by waves crashing against the rocks below.

As the clock was ticking and chef was getting impatient, we chose quickly from the Menu Detente at €28.20 per person and equally quickly, our food arrived.  Our amuse bouche was cabillaud (cod) pâté with brown bread and crevette tartare with a mustard sauce.  Two spoons later and it had vanished.  Tiny, but delicious.

I noticed that the chef was a big fan of decorating the plates with cinnamon powder & balsamic reduction.  I'm not sure if this added anything to the finished dishes, but each to their own...

My starter was a filo tart of Rouget (red mullet) with a hot mustard foam decorated with pink peppercorns. The open filo tart was filled with fried fillets of fish, carrot & beetroot strands, celeriac remoulade, peppers (evil and discarded) and salad leaves.


My main was Merlue (hake) with a celeriac and purple potato purée. The fish was covered with spring onions & cooked scallions. Dotted around the plate were dainty cubes of  fennel, cabbage, courgette & cumin spiced carrot poached in butter with white turnip & white asparagus.  Delicate and delicious.

After some breathing space, our desserts arrived.  My chocolate creme brûlée infused with confit orange zest was scattered with  pistachios, orange segments & pistachio meringue. In the main, it was very good but the orange segments were as dry as a bone.  

The Hubs ordered a Strawberry eclair with pistachio creme & a mix of confit and fresh strawberries and a strawberry sorbet with a crunchy tuile.  Now that's what I call a dessert.  And in the true spirit of sharing is caring, I stole at least half of it...

The total cost of our evening was €77.20 which included two Menu Detente, 2 Leffe beers for The Hubs and a 1/2 bottle of Muscadet for me.  Great value, gorgeous location and a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening, even if the locals though we were mad!

Restaurant Le Puits d'Enfer
56, boulevard de Lattre de Tassigny, 85180 Le Chateau d'Olonne, France
Tel : +33 251 215277

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