Auberge du Donjon, Bazoges-en-Pareds.

Chef: Benoit Mace. Commondiere, Cordon Bleu de France

Tel.02 51 51 20 07
Sometimes when youíve been trying to go somewhere or do something for a long time, the reality does not live up to the anticipation that you and time have created. Iíve been trying to eat at the Auberge du Donjon for over a year, and today at last I managed to lay the ghost to rest. Was it as good as I had been led to believe, or was it a disappointment? Youíll just have to read on to find out, after all during the process of finding out I had to eat at Le CondíOr, so reading this is small change.
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I had booked a table for four, Kieran and Julia were over from the UK, they are a lovely couple and long term friends of Trevorís, who naturally made up the fourth person in our party. Though I havenít known them for very long I have received nothing but kindness and hospitality from them and it was, as always, an absolute pleasure to be in their company. The Auberge is alongside Bazoges en Paredís famous Donjon, or dungeon, the Keep dating from 1380 was a fortified tower built on the high ground to defend the village, it has a medieval garden and Iím reliably informed that the chef of the Auberge can often be seen wandering through it clipping bits and pieces for his recipes. We were at the restaurant for lunch, so we posed little or no threat to the locals. The first thing to say is that the Auberge had a good sized car park immediately adjacent with a level entrance into the dining room. The dining room itself was lovely, it was old but well kept, it was light and airy even though the temperature outside was in the mid thirties and it had a serene feel to it but it wasnít stuffy or over formal. There were plenty of diners even though it was a Wednesday, the staff were friendly and extremely helpful, and one of the waitresses was happy to go to the kitchen and ask the chef the constituents of one of the sauces in response to a question from Trevor. So we settled into the relaxed atmosphere and after some preliminary questions had been satisfactorily answered placed our order.

There was a 12 euro menu of the day and then set menus that went up from 14 euros. The 12 euro menu was a choice of 3 entrťes, a main course of the day, a choice of 3 sweets and coffee, remarkably house wine was also included. Trevor, Kieran and I chose the 12 euro menu with a carafe of red wine, and Julia went for the 14 euro menu and a carafe of rosť. Amazingly the three of us chose different entrťes Trevor went for the Vendťen Salad, Kieran the Seafood Cassoulet and I had the Mushroom Cassoulet. Julia had different choices with her menu and she went for an Aubergine Flan. We were all impressed with our dishes; they looked good and tasted even better. Trevorís salad was copious and very tasty, the cassoulets were both full of flavour and Juliaís Aubergine Flan was an absolute delight. The Cote de Porc, which was the main course in the 12 euro menu, was excellent three slices of belly pork in a superb sauce of tomatoes and unexpectedly fish stock with a cake of potato pieces and lardons dipped in egg and cooked. Julia had two different types of fish and she said that they were very well cooked and really flavoursome. Everything was going tremendously well, the house red wine was fantastic considering it was included in the price of the meal, I have the feeling that if we had asked for more that would have also been included in the price, but we didnít so who knows. Juliaís carafe of rosť seemed to be going down well too and we were all in good spirits,
Trevor was regaling us with some of his tales of the sea, which often seem incredible but are inevitably true and more importantly hilarious. As weíve often discussed he should be writing them down but heís a self confessed dyslexic, which makes writing difficult. In an attempt to combat this he has acquired a digital sound recorder and when he finds a decent voice recognition programme he says he will record his memoirs and let the computer do the writing.  I must confess that I help out and correct his blog for him and sometimes I get stuck between his twisted logic and his Bristol accent, so heaven knows what the computer will make of it all. Personally Iím dying to find out
Pressing on it was time for our sweet. Kieran and I went for the Pana Cotta, Trevor had the Tarte Normande and as Julia was on the 14 euro menu she got a different choice and had CrŤme BrŻle. Yet again we were all bowled over by the presentation and the attention to detail, and all the sweets met with universal approval on the taste front. Coffee came and went and included Trevorís obligatory chocolate. Even though the Auberge was busy the staff were attentive, but we felt in no way rushed. Kieran paid the bill, so I didnít see the final damage but it seemed to me that apart from the 14 euro menu and the carafe of rosť the cost would have been 12 euros a head. Things may have been different in the evenings, but I canít see it making much difference except perhaps in the cost.

Considering the excellent ambience of the dining room, the attentive but unobtrusive service, the spectacular presentation, not art on a plate but close enough to it, the wonderful variety and the quality and taste of the food, this has to be right up there with any restaurant in the area. It may have taken a year to get to, but it was definitely worth the wait. I highly recommend a visit. - Tate
Review by Tate