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La Loge. Review by Tate
La Proutiere  Pouzauges, Tel 02 51 91 80 54

Sud Vendee.. Haut Bocage.. Coastal Region.. Marais Poitevin.. Marais Breton.. Bas Bocage.. Plaine.. Marais Olonne..
This was to be our first outing of 2011. My good friend Ron who had travelled down with me to help me set everything up here for my summer in the Vendée was with Trevor and I and we had decided to visit La Loge. The restaurant had been recommended to us by good friends Stephen and Sally who had visited it with their French neighbours Roger and Christine who both had several years of experience as Traiteurs (outside caterers) here in France. The restaurant is famed for its “Planche de Boucher” which is 400 grams of steak served on a wooden board and as we were all steak fans I felt it would be a good way of saying thank you to my two friends. I booked the restaurant which according to the card was in a place called La Proutière on Trevor’s map this was a small hamlet between St Michel Mont Mercure and Les Herbiers about 45 minutes drive from our base near La Châtaigneraie. Trevor drove and by some remarkable and innate ability to know where he is, he actually found La Proutière, unfortunately the restaurant was nowhere to be seen. I made a call to the restaurant and they told me that we were nowhere near them as they were actually in La Proutière which was on the outskirts of Pouzages and that if we went into the centre of Pouzages the restaurant was well signposted.

Having first ascertained from the restaurateur that we were not going to be too late for them, we eventually arrived at the restaurant at 8.45 some 45 minutes after our reservation. We were sat in a small secondary dining room on our own which frankly had zero ambience, there was no window but we were able to see the terrace out of the second doorway and there was a very large barbeque, which I imagine is well used in the summer. Because of the lateness of the hour we didn’t bother with aperitifs, I tried to order a non alcoholic beer for Trevor but they didn’t have one nor Trevor’s second choice of tonic water so he ended up with orange juice. I ordered a bottle of house wine for Ron and I which turned out to be a bottle of 2009 Bordeaux with La Lodge’s own label on it. Now anyone who drinks French red wine will know that it is almost impossible to find a 2009 Bordeaux that isn’t good so it was no surprise having seen the label that the wine was as good as it was, what was a surprise was that it cost
14.50 a bottle which is extravagant to say the least for a house wine. We ordered and our meals and our entrees arrived, I had a dozen Escargots which came fairly quickly, for escargots, they were nothing special, although the texture was good enough and though they were not at all chewy they lacked a little taste for my liking and I found the tongs difficult to use. This may have something to do with my lack of practice, but I have never had any problems before, and I wondered if the snails were perhaps a little small for the equipment. Ron had Foie Gras Perigord which I suspect was duck rather than goose, and it was served with 3 very thin slices of raw duck breast and a small salad. Ron said that it was alright, but that he wouldn’t have known it was duck breast if it hadn’t said on the menu. Trevor who rarely misses the opportunity to have a gizzard salad chose the Gizzard Salad Forestière which was warm gizzards on a bed of salad served with mushrooms and croutons. It was big and like all of our entrees was attractively presented and Trevor was reasonable pleased with it, however he said that the salad was a bit limp and the croutons were tooth-breakingly crunchy, although if you could manage to eat them they were tasty.

No sooner were the entrees cleared away than as if by magic the main courses materialised, we had all gone for the house speciality “Plancher du Boucher”. The 400 grams of steak came in three guises, a pavé, a brochette and an entrecote. Pavé roughly translates as a slab, and is similar to rump steak, brochette is a skewer with cubes of beef on it and an entrecôte is essentially a rib eye steak. The steaks were served on wooden carving boards with a large bowl of what were certainly not homemade chips. I found the pavé to be tasty and not too tough, the brochette was a bit hit and miss, both in taste and toughness, but the entrecôte was very stringy, so much so in fact that Ron left most of his. We ordered our deserts and I must confess that I was a bit disappointed when my Ile Flotantte was served, I hadn’t read the menu properly and had failed to see that it comprised ice cream and not meringue floating in the crème anglaise. Trevor had Crème Brûlée, which he enjoyed so much we didn’t get a taste of so couldn’t truly comment on it, but by far the desert of the day was Ron’s Profiteroles, there were three and they were huge, served with Chantilly cream and bathed in chocolate. Ron could only eat two of them and so it was incumbent upon me to eat the third, solely in the interests of the review of course and although I was very full I managed to squeeze it down and enjoy it.

We ordered coffee which appeared with almost indecent haste as did the bill, and when we paid and left we saw why, as the waitress’ boyfriend was waiting in the car park headlights blazing and engine running. Now I understand that we were late, but I did confirm during my phone call that we weren’t too late and as such I didn’t expect to be rushed through my meal which I felt that I was. From my subsequent conversation with our friend Stephen it seems obvious that we didn’t receive anything like the meal or the service that he had experienced. He said that they were served a variety of vegetables and that there were plenty of them, we weren’t offered any, all we got was a bowl of oven chips. In truth the meal was a bit patchy, some things were good but some things were disappointing. We were sat in a room without ambience, rushed through a meal that was definitely not top quality and yet it cost
145 which is not far short of the cost of a far superior meal at the Auberge de la Rivière, which I rate as probably the best restaurant in the Vendée. In fairness things may have been different had we got there on time, maybe we would have been sat in the main dining room with other diners, maybe we would have had more time to relax and enjoy the meal, maybe we would have been offered a choice of vegetables. However I don’t think that the food would have been any better, and I don’t think the price would have been any less, so I have to say reluctantly I couldn’t recommend the restaurant and I certainly didn’t think it offered anything like value for money, in my opinion one to avoid. 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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