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Casse Croûte Vendéen  Pouzauges
31,rue Mare    Tel. 02 51 61 72 80

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It was a Wednesday and a beautiful summer’s day had given way to a balmy evening. It was hard to drag oneself away from the pool but I had booked us into the Casse-Croûte Vendéen a restaurant on the outskirts of Pouzauges in the Haut Boccage. The restaurant is situated off the ring road around Pouzauges which is an industrial zone and outside of the entrance is a tractor stood on its end with the front wheels pointing skyward. The building itself is a large wooden structure and on entering it one is greeted with a large bar with seating being provided by tractor seats, there is a children’s play house to the left followed by a large auxiliary dining area and to the right the main dining area and a large covered terrace. We were asked our preference and were shown to a table for two in the middle of the terrace. I would have preferred somewhere a little more to the side of the terrace but ours was the only table for two that was vacant. After the decoration of the high barn-like structure, which was principally agricultural machinery, the first thing that struck me was the friendliness of the staff, we were not only greeted by our server but by every member of staff as they passed us. The next thing that struck me was the number of families with young children that were dining. We were as far as I could tell the only English diners, and in England this many children would normally signal a noisy and often unpleasant experience, that is however not the case in France where children are generally as well behaved as the adults at the dinner table. In truth the selection of diners was fairly eclectic there being groups of older people, young couples, French holidaymakers and locals, it all augured well.

We looked at the menu, which is available online at and found that we were spoiled for choice, there were Vendéen speciality dishes, tartines, oeufs cocottes, pan fried dishes, meats and fish and a selection of both Vendéen and other desserts. First things first however we ordered our aperitifs, I had a Blackcurrant Kir Pétillant, which differs from a Kir Royale insofar as it uses sparkling wine rather than Champagne, while Trevor had a non-alcoholic beer. The staff were too quick for us and we hadn’t even begun to unravel the complicated menu when they first came to take our order, when they saw that we were still deep in thought they were happy enough to leave us to it. We eventually made our choices and they included another beer for Trevor who was thirsty and a 50cl pitcher of house red wine at a very reasonable 3.10 which I asked the waitress to serve immediately. I was very impressed with the staff, the restaurant was pretty busy but the staff seemed to relish it and looked as if they were truly enjoying themselves, they were attentive, friendly and relaxed but most of all they were very efficient.

Our entrées arrived. I had chosen La “P’ Chite” assiette de dégustation, it was a taste of the Vendée with a slice of Vendéen Ham which was smoked and uncooked much like Parma Ham, Rillaud D’ Anjou which were cubes of cold belly pork, Rilleau Vendéen a course mixture of cold pork in a paté form and a pot containing the contents of boudin noire which is the Vendéen version of black pudding. This was all served on a green salad with a couple of tomato segments and dressed in mustard vinaigrette. It was copious, fantastically tasty and authentically Vendéen. Boudin Noire is normally served as a sausage and is without doubt an acquired taste and is not for the faint hearted, so I would advise caution for anyone who does have a delicate palette, I must say that I love it and it was an excellent surprise to find it included in the dish. Trevor had chosen La Ressiaie, which was a salad with foie gras flavoured with trouspinette, a local fortified wine, thin slices of smoked duck breast, a compote of onions and a bed of rice. His comments were that both the foie gras and the smoked duck were superb although as always with smoked duck breast he could have eaten more, the onion compote was tasty and the rice was an excellent addition. As we ate the terrace filled up and as people were finishing their meals so their tables were being cleared and filled with other diners. There were plenty of people eating inside as well but it was a perfect evening to be dining “Al Fresco”.

Entrées over our plates were cleared and our main courses were served. Trevor’s was the first to arrive, he had chosen a larger version of my starter which was served with the addition of a bowl of Mojettes, large white beans in a white sauce which are a true staple of Vendéen cuisine, and two large rounds of toasted bread, the whole dish was so big that it threatened to overwhelm the table. My Poêlée du Boeuf, pan fried beef strips, were served on a very hot skillet and were still sizzling as they arrived. They were accompanied by homemade chips and between the two was a barrier of mushrooms, lardons and onions. It was a simple dish, in truth the steak was a little overcooked for me, but thin strips of beef are almost impossible to keep rare and get hot and the likelihood is that the hot skillet was the cause of the beef cooking too much. The tastes complimented one another perfectly with the saltiness of the lardons balanced perfectly by the sweetness of the sautéed onions, and what a pleasure to eat real chips. Unsurprisingly I finished my main course well before Trevor and hunkered down to finish the wine, which was a little thin but at the price was perfectly acceptable.

When Trevor had finished and our plates had been cleared we perused the dessert menu, I could easily have gone for the Crème Brûlée that they flambé at the table or the Tart Tatin or even the Profiteroles, but both of us ended up choosing one of the house speciality Brioches Grilées. Brioche is another speciality of Vendéen cuisine and for those who have never tried it is sweet soft bread and is delicious. My selection was Une Gueroué which was toasted Brioche with a hot chocolate sauce, sliced banana flambéed in rum with a serving of coconut ice cream and Chantilly cream, need I say more. Trevor opted for a Pouère mol which was toasted Brioche with a hot chocolate sauce, sliced pear and praline flambéed in a local Vendéen liqueur and served with Chantilly cream, ecstasy on a plate. We finished the meal with large white coffees which were completely to my taste the coffee being very strong with the hot milk being served in a separate jug.

All in all the meal had been a triumph although we had both eaten far too much. The restaurant had a great ambience and the evening had been perfect for eating on the terrace, although I can imagine that eating inside on a winter’s evening would have an equal if somewhat different charm. The welcome was warm and the staff were friendly and efficient, all of which had added positively to the dining experience, even the majority of the other diners were friendly with most new arrivals wishing everyone “bon appetite”. The fare was very authentically Vendéen and we had pushed the boat out and stinted at nothing, even so the whole meal only came to
70 and a three course lunch formula is a very reasonable 9.30. One, but not the only, reason for so many children and families eating at the restaurant is without doubt the fact that they serve two different children’s menus both with plenty of choice one for children up to 10 years old and the other for youngsters up to 15 years old and these are 6.50 and 7.30 respectively. I would be delighted to visit this restaurant again and again, however my waistline would most certainly take the strain, I can highly recommend it. Tate - 2011


About the author: Tate spends the summers in the Vendee and is passionate about good wine and good food,he writes exclusively for the
The coping of this article is permitted as long as the complete article along with these credits are published.

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Tate at Casse Croute Vendeen Restaurant