Well its been a while hasn’t it? After I got back from Paris I heard about a fadabbydozzy new WordPress update from Hannah.
Whilst I was doing the update I decided to give the blog a proper theme as somehow I’d carried on with the temporary one I used whilst building the site. At some point in these changes I broke the blogging interface, I could no longer edit, change, or create any posts. Despite my eager fingers over Easter blogging was not happening.
Fast forward to Tuesday after work and I am pestering my techy colleagues and googling like crazy. I’m sort of half way there (you can probably tell as there is a new post) but I’m still struggling with my recipe plugin. Apologies a lot of my recipes are currently missing, if you need one just ask!
Rewind a couple of weeks and I did promise you some holiday posts, because I don’t want to bang on about running ALL the time.
So here’s the next stage in that story. We left Sunny Paris in a little hire car and battled the congested city traffic until we seemed to burst out onto lovely empty autoroutes. This was David’s first time driving in France and he couldn’t quite believe it! We cruised down to Reims, home of Champagne, after all the running I certainly deserved some Fizz.
Before we set off I’d tried having a look at Trip Advisor and Yelp for restaurant recommendations, but there is nothing quite like a personal recommendation. We were recommended a lovely restaurant for a little celebration (but not too posh or stiff) from David’s colleague Anne-Charlotte who hails from the region. Thanks Anne Charlotte, we also followed your recommendation to the village of Hautvillers which was delightful and a great stop for a pique-nique!
On with the food: we arrived at Au Petit Comptoir at about 19:30, early for the French but there were a few tables full already and the staff greeted us with a lovely welcome and promptly gave us the menus followed by a plate of freshly sliced sausage from this amazing contraption!
One great thing about menus in France is that there always seems to be an option for a ‘menu’ which in this case means set meal. At perhaps a more pricey restaurant like this it allows you to sample some of their great dishes without breaking the bank. For me it means I can eat at lovely restaurants all the time and not have to save some for special occasions. Au Petit Comptoir had two ‘menus’ one with a couple of options for each course which we opted for or the ‘Menu Bistro’ which was an absolute bargain but their was no choice. We saw loads of locals popping in after work for this menu du jour and it looked delicious, we were only a little jealous!
Now you may know that I am not a big fan of meat, in fact if I lived alone I would probably be vegetarian, or pescatarian at least. Despite this I do have some very meaty things that I like. One being Foie Gras (others being Haggis and Black Pudding – just don’t think about what’s in them) I’m not going to wade into a Foie Gras debate here, I was in France, it tastes good, I couldn’t resist. So for my starter I had this incredible “Foie Gras and Tongue” (surprisingly nice) the menu’s description really doesn’t do it justice. As you can see, it came with sour dough, an infused salt and a warm lentil salad. The texture of the tongue (almost like ham hock) in the terrine was a great contrast against the creaminess of the Foie Gras. My sourdough didn’t last long but we were given a variety of freshly baked crusty bread to go with our meal. 6 pieces for two of us was a bit overzealous though, despite its deliciousness.
David had the beautifully presented cheese tart with pears (above), yet again the chef had the contrasts dead on.
Cheesy picture of me looking a bit marathon tired with my Pollack with Cream of Herring Caviar. We cook Pollack often at home, it’s a white fish which works in recipes as great alternative to Cod and is more sustainable. I absolutely adored this main and could be seen minutes later mopping up the caviar sauce with bread mmm, mmm!
David opted for the goose (and also we didn’t want to have the same thing!) which came with potatoes, morel sauce and these awesome roasted vegetable crisps. The French really know their sauces and I was reminded of the scene in my favourite movie Sabrina when she writes in a letter that she is moving onto the sauce cooking course – marking a massive improvement in her skills. Next time we visit France I’d love to have a go at a cookery course myself.
The portions were hearty and we were pretty full at this point, luckily there was no sense of rushing anywhere in the restaurant so we were able to sit back and enjoy our mains slowly, whilst pondering if we could manage our pre ordered puddings. Well you know me, there is always room for pudding and after such a great meal my hopes were very, very high!
Again we opted for the two different desserts, we got the waiter to serve them one at a time and we shared them as we didn’t have a favourite. Again the menu was understated: Melting milk chocolate cake with caramel and Crème brûlée with mango.
Well our Creme Brulee was lavender with a mango sorbet that was so full of flavour it would make me think twice about ever snubbing sorbet for ice cream! But… WHY OH WHY have you put hundreds and thousands on the sorbet? Sorry team but I think it really cheapened this dish, it absolutely didn’t need it. If you a desperate for a garnish why not try some dried mango?
Despite the crazy sprinkles this dessert exceeded our expectations.
Finally we were faced with our chocolate cake, I had ordered from the French menu were this was still called a melting chocolate cake, which seems a surprise in hindsight as it was essentially a chocolate fondant but with a caramel centre. This could have been stodgy and overwhelming but the fruit purées and vanilla sauce cut through the richness for a perfect end to our meal. Or what we thought was a perfect end. We were offered coffee, but I was too full even for that (If you know the Monty Python Sketch, insert joke here) so we declined.
The waiter was back in a flash with this plate of loveliness! Madelines, pistachio marshmallows and hazelnut biscuits. I did find room and I’m so glad I did, I wonder if this area of France recently started the trend for fancy marshmallows as they can be seen in many of the towns patisseries and I can’t imagine them bowing to trends – no cronuts or cupcakes to be seen here!
If you happen to be passing through Reims, no matter your budget there is a menu for you (and all get the ham and pastries at the end) it’s a great chance to eat some beautiful food in a friendly but authentic setting. Thanks Au Petit Comptoir we had a lovely evening.
We weren’t asked, given anything for free nor paid for this write up, I just really liked the restaurant and wanted to share it with you.