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L'Auberge de l'Abbaye.    Maillezais

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L’Auberge de L’Abbaye - Maillezais

It was a Wednesday lunchtime and we were trying to visit the restaurant at Bouillé-Courdault called Le Trou Vendeen, we had visited before and seen the Auberge and we thought it looked worth a try. It sported an 11 Euro Formula and was populated by the French, too populated as it turned out because it was full. We had to find somewhere fast Trevor’s hunger was beginning to get the better of him and time was running out, so we decided to go to L’Auberge de L’Abbaye at Maillezais.
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We went across country and I took a wrong turn, it looked for all manner that the larger road went round to the left so I took it, it didn’t and we meandered through what on any other occasion would have been delightful countryside but was now a carnivores black hole. We arrived at the Abbey car park and Trevor checked that they had a table for us while I disembarked the scooter, as it turned out all of the tables outside were taken and we were directed to the rear of the restaurant where a few tables remained unoccupied. They soon filled up and I found out subsequently that the restaurant catered for 150 covers; I begin to see why the Vendéens have such a short season. No matter that, I was intrigued at the choice of music that was being played, things that one would not normally expect in a restaurant, especially one at such a prominent tourist destination. They played Rufus Wainwright and Bebel Gilberto amongst others, two artists that I personally love but hardly main stream and hardly musac. I was told that it was the proprietor’s choice and all power to them I loved it. The ambience in general was very good; the room we were in was old and had plenty of atmosphere. It was a very hot day and in the room there were about half a dozen tables with small children on at least 3 of them, (that’s not counting Trevor and I) I’m sure that had we managed to get a table outside it would have been even better, kids in hot places sitting at tables do tend to get a bit fractious, love them though I do.
By this time we had abandoned all attempts at value for money eating, and I was staggered when Trevor avoided the faut fillet, he’s normally a sucker for beef, and plumped for the lamb. It was only when I found out that his friends Patricia and Alan had a house just around the corner, visited the restaurant frequently and had recommended the lamb to him that I began to understand. He really does look after number one when it comes to his stomach and he forgot to mention the recommendation until after we’d ordered.

I started with snails, and they were very good, they had plenty of very garlicky butter and I relished the opportunity to mop it up with the bread which was replenished upon request. The snails were a little small, which made holding them in the conventionally sized tongs a bit tricky but they were no less tasty for it. This is high praise from me as Gisele my former next door neighbour here in France, who is a marvellous cook, used to catch, clean, prepare and cook snails for me, they were fabulous and set an impossibly high standard. Trevor must have been feeling very 80’s as he had Vendéen ham and melon, which looked good it was very well presented in a fan arrangement on a square slate serving plate and he said he thoroughly enjoyed it, although it’s hard to see what you could get wrong with ham and melon.
Our main courses arrived, my faut fillet was excellent, it was perfectly cooked, very tasty and not too chewy. I’ve found here in France that unless you opt for fillet with the consequent cost you do rather take pot luck with the toughness of the meat. I personally don’t mind meat that’s a bit chewy just as long as it tastes good. The frites were as you would imagine, thin and crispy and the whole course was very good. Trevor said that his lamb was exceptional and I must admit that the little bit he gave me to taste was delicious. It was full of flavour, not at all fatty and made me a little bit envious; his course was served in two separate dishes one containing the lamb stew and anther containing the mojettes. If I was to make one very picky comment it would be about the presentation, it was in my opinion a bit half hearted. Trevor’s starter was very well presented but his main course had three chives laid across the lamb which I can only think were supposed to be decorous; they were a waste of time. The mojettes which look very ordinary and uninviting at the best of times were served in a plain bowl, and anyone who has eaten them will know that although they taste good they are not the most appetising thing to look at, so a bit more effort wouldn’t have gone amiss.
We both opted for the profiteroles, and weren’t disappointed, they were scrumptious. We had ordered a pitcher of house red with the meal, which as perfectly acceptable; Trevor had to make do with tonic as they didn’t have any non alcohol beer. We finished with coffee and to Trevor’s delight there was a small chocolate with it. The staff who had been very busy acquitted themselves very well, they were attentive and eager to please, and they even made the time to have a little chat busy though they were. I would like to eat there again either outside or in the main body of the restaurant, perhaps on one of their music evenings.

All in all it was a good place and at 54.70 euros wasn’t expensive for the menu that we had chosen. The mere fact that I would like to go back again shows that I can certainly recommend it.

Tate - 2009
l'Auberge de l'Abbaye, Maillezais