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La Digue  Review by Tate
9, rue Abrevoirs. Montaigu. Tel.02 51 06 34 48.

Sud Vendee.. Haut Bocage.. Coastal Region.. Marais Poitevin.. Marais Breton.. Bas Bocage.. Plaine.. Marais Olonne..
It was a Tuesday and Trevor and I had just seen my good friend Ron off at Rennes airport on his return journey to England. Our plan was to find a restaurant in the North of the Vendée as, due to the distance from where we are based we don’t often visit the area. We were a bit late so Trevor thought it would be a good idea to head to Montaigu the closest & largish town on our route. Trevor had a mind to try a restaurant that he had seen on the banks of the river Maine just beneath the ramparts of the castle and as we crossed the bridge we could see that even at 1.15pm on a Tuesday lunchtime the terrace of the restaurant was packed, which is generally a very good sign. Trevor was driving and found his way down through the narrow streets to the river bank and the restaurant, and while he went to park I was shown to a table. It was a beautifully warm and sunny day and it would have been fabulous to eat on the covered terrace with its excellent view along the river, however as the terrace was full Olivier, the Maitre D’ showed me to a table just inside, next to open patio doors. I would suggest that if you want to try this restaurant you either book and ask for a table on the terrace or get there early as eating on the terrace would without doubt enhance your experience, provided that the weather was good.

Our table was set for two and we were seated on padded banquettes on which many restaurants would have squeezed four people. The dining room was cool and airy with the patio doors to the terrace wide open. I could already tell that this was going to be my kind of restaurant, it had a relaxed feel about it with Olivier setting the standard wearing pink shorts a pink shirt and a knotted kerchief around his neck, he was laid back and even though the restaurant was very busy he was taking everything in his stride. Trevor arrived and I ordered him a non alcoholic beer they didn’t serve a house wine so I ordered a glass of red which when it arrived turned out to be a Cotes de Blaye. The drinks arrived with the menus and the board with the various dishes on it, there were set meals from
15 upwards and we decided on the meal for 20 which gave us a choice from 3 starters, 3 main courses and any dessert. We both chose the Gizzard Salad although there was a choice of Tuna Tartare or Salmon Mousse and for the main course Trevor chose the Onglet de Boeuf and I chose the Souris D’Agneau Confite the third choice of main course was Monkfish. The Cotes de Blaye was a very nice wine, it wasn’t cheap at 6 a glass but as I hadn’t really studied the wine list I have no idea what was available or at what price, and as I was the only one drinking it a whole bottle at lunch would have in any case been excessive and seen me asleep on the homeward journey. There were two young waitresses and a young waiter working alongside Olivier and the service even though we had arrived quite late was relaxed and friendly.

The entrees arrived and what entrees they were. The plates looked wonderful, the gizzards, which were plump and very rare, were as good as any I’ve ever tasted and as they were very red they were in striking contrast to the small green rocket salad which for good measure had a slice of foie gras secreted amongst it. There was a hot goat’s cheese tartlet which comprised goat’s cheese on a slice of Vendéen ham on a slice of brioche, in truth the brioche was just a little bit burnt on mine, but it didn’t detract from the terrific strong salty taste. There were ribbons of cucumber, cubes of tomato, shredded carrot and a delicious radish, which I ate dipping it in the Fleur de Sel which was the table condiment. There were 3 small stripes of preserve on the left side of the plate, red beetroot, orange apple, and yellow onion which apart from being great visually were all very tasty, and to counterbalance that on the other side of the plate 3 small green dots of herb flavoured mayonnaise. As starters go this was out of the top drawer, the different flavours and textures were all perfectly balanced and if it was the only starter I could eat for the rest of my life I wouldn’t be unhappy. The staff were attentive but not overbearing and the service was efficient yet unhurried. I could have seen myself in times gone by with a group of friends whiling away the afternoon eating and drinking on the terrace.

Starters over we awaited our main courses with great anticipation, and when they arrived we were not disappointed. My Souris d’Agneau Confite was a lamb shank served in small pot with a stew of tomato, carrot, green beans and onion in thick silky gravy with a stunning depth of flavour and the creamiest mashed potatoes you could wish for. I was having some problems keeping the pot from spinning on the serving plate even though I had tried with and without the paper doily provided for just that purpose. Olivier noticed my dilemma and having tried the doily himself he lifted the pot and slapped a thin slice of bread under it which instantly cured the problem and allowed me to settle down to savouring what was an absolute symphony of taste. The lamb was meltingly tender, it fell off the bone and was full of flavour. Everything was faultless and the second glass of Cote de Blaye only served to further enhance it.

Trevor was having Onglet de Boeuf which is beef flank and is served more and more in France, as it is a less expensive alternative to fillet, but this was the first time that I had seen Onglet in the shape of a fillet mignon. It was perfectly cooked, tender and extremely tasty and it was served with homemade French Fries. These were absolutely excellent and a real treat, as homemade French Fries have unfortunately become so rare in restaurants now that they almost qualify as an endangered species. All too soon we had finished our main courses and it was time to choose our deserts, I went for a Tarte Tatin while Trevor opted for a Tiramisu. My Tarte Tatin was fabulous, the large slices of apple were just on the bite and the caramel topping gave the dish a sweetness that was in perfect juxtaposition to the slightly tart apple. Trevor’s Tiramisu looked beautiful and tasted pretty much the same. The deep coffee flavour and the light sponge were balanced by the cream, mascarpone and liqueur. Both dishes were served with ice cream, which along with the foie gras were probably the only things that we ate that hadn’t been made on the premises. We both finished the meal with large coffees and if I was forced to eat at this restaurant every day for the rest of my life I wouldn’t be unhappy, it simply was that good.

The total cost of the meal was
58.60, which is not cheap for lunch, but this was a meal of very high quality and I’m always prepared to pay for quality. The restaurant itself was in a lovely setting, the atmosphere was relaxed and the staff were charming. If you are happy to spend 30 a head on lunch then this restaurant will take some beating and if we find somewhere better this year we will be in for a rare treat in deed. I can highly recommend this restaurant. 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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La Digue Restaurant in Montaigu
View from the Terrace at the Digue Restaurant, Montaigu
Dining at La Digue Restaurant, Montaigue
Salade de Gisiers
Souris d'Agneau Confite
Onglet de Boeuf
Tart Tartan
The Maitre'D at La Digue Restaurant
Tate at la Digue To read his personal disclaimer click on image
Tate at la Digur Restaurant, Montaigu
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