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La Mirabelle
89 Rue du President du Gaulle, Luçon. Tel. 02 51 56 93 02

Sud Vendee.. Haut Bocage.. Coastal Region.. Marais Poitevin.. Marais Breton.. Bas Bocage.. Plaine.. Marais Olonne..
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I was fed up, it was my least favourite weather and had been for the last fortnight. It wasn’t as if there was no sun, there was, but the strong winds meant that no sooner had you gone out in it you were scurrying for cover as the rain lashed down. I would personally rather that it rained all the time than have the teasing uncertainty that this weather brings. Now I’m not telling you this in search of sympathy, rather to give you an idea of my mood when approaching this restaurant review. To cap it all we were in Luçon and we hadn’t reckoned on the fact that it was the fête de music and the restaurant that we had chosen to eat in was fully booked. We ended up at La Mirabelle a restaurant that we had always studiously avoided as it was by reputation expensive, but tonight it was either La Mirabelle or the Chinese restaurant right in the middle of town. The logic was that we would have to review La Mirabelle at some time and so tonight might as well be the night.

Unusually for France the restaurant didn’t open until 8 ‘o’ clock and we were amongst the first diners to arrive. The dining room was light and airy with a muted colour scheme and modern artwork on display. The music playing was soft, Latin American and absolutely to my taste. Outside there was a sheltered garden in which it would have been a delight to eat in more clement weather. We were shown to a table and asked if we would like an aperitif, Trevor had tonic water and I ordered a glass of red wine, the Cotes du Rhone that they served was nice enough but I figured that I would need to be circumspect with regard to what I ordered, if I wasn’t going to have to take out a second mortgage. The wine arrived along with some mise en bouche, which was a glass of sardine paste and croutons, the paste was creamy and delightfully delicate and the croutons were crunchy without being tooth cracking. Upon finishing this we were served with a glass of light creamy crème fresh flavoured with asparagus, it was meant I’m sure as a pallet cleanser but I found it a bit bland and uninteresting. The entrees arrived and completely made up for any disappointment we might have been feeling, we had both ordered the Foie Gras de Canard Cuit en Terrine, Purée de Fruits Secs au Balsamique, which was a Terrine of foie gras of duck liver rather than goose liver, even in restaurants of this quality foie gras de l’oie seems to have become a thing of the past. This was delicious, a fantastic taste and it was complimented by a confiture of dried fruit which was incredibly tasty and sweet, there was a small green salad and a plate of warm toast. The plate was painted with a small swirl of concentrated balsamic vinegar and the overall effect was well balanced and full of interesting flavours. The staff at the restaurant were charming and attentive yet unobtrusive and we didn’t have any time to wait after finishing our entrees for the main courses to arrive,

I had decided on the Jarret et Pieds de Cochon Fermier en Brick Croustillante aux Graines de Moutarde, this was the leg and trotter of a pig cooked in crispy mustard seed pastry, I was a little concerned that this might have been a bit fatty, I needn’t have worried, it was absolutely perfect, the pastry was superb and the pig was beautifully cooked and the sauce had a depth of flavour that was astonishing. There were three purees served with it one of onion, one of potato and one of mixed vegetables all of which were superb, totally different in both their taste and consistency and they all complimented the pork ideally. Trevor had Merlu Cuit Vapeur, Etuvée de Carottes Glacées au Gingembre et Citron Vert, which is steamed hake on a bed of braised carrots with a ginger and lime sauce, Trevor was effusive in his praise for the dish, he said that the fish had been simply steamed and not as he put it messed about with the bed of braised carrots were perfect and he said that the ginger and lime cream sauce was a triumph. On top was a thin crispy biscuit that finished the meal off, and it is quite alarming to think that Trevor whose maxim is that a meal is not a meal without potatoes, never mentioned the lack of them once.

Dessert arrived mine was Mi-Cuit au Chocolat Noir, Crème Glacée au Café et Kamok de Luçon, Sauce Miel/Arabica, it was a chocolate fondant with a boule of coffee ice cream in a crème anglaise. The Fondant was as you would expect cooked to perfection, the coffee ice cream had a hint of the fiery Luçon made coffee liqueur Kamok and crème anglaise, topped with a honey flavoured sweet flat tuile The complexity of this dish was astonishing there were so many competing flavours and yet everything went together so well. Trevor had Blanc Manger au Fromage Blanc, Sablé Breton et Marinade de Fraises, which translates into a fromage frais topped with a breton shortcake and strawberries in a strawberry coulis. It looked great and there were no complaints from Trevor. Following dessert we were served a final dish of a strip of jellied Seville Orange with a lime marsh mallow and a small meringue they were all delicious and were a perfect way to finish eating. We both chose Guatemalan Coffee which was strong and vibrant and steeled ourselves for the bill. We didn’t rush there were more diners now than when we had arrived and I was amused as Trevor regaled me with tales from his somewhat murky past. The bill when it did come didn’t disappoint, it worked out to
45 a head which is pretty expensive, It is true to say that the meal was excellent and for a special occasion or as a place to take the special one in your life for a romantic evening it would be the ideal place. There is no doubt that Benoit Hermouet is a great chef, he cooks traditional Vendéen cuisine in a modern and exciting way, this is a great place to go especially if someone else is paying the bill. 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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Mi-Cuit au Chocolat Noir, Crème Glacée au Café et Kamok de Luçon, Sauce Miel/Arabica,
Merlu Cuit Vapeur, Etuvée de Carottes Glacées au Gingembre et Citron Vert
Foie Gras de Canard Cuit en Terrine, Purée de Fruits Secs au Balsamique
Jarret et Pieds de Cochon Fermier en Brick Croustillante aux Graines de Moutarde
La Mirabelle Restaurant, Lucon
La Mirabelle Restaurant Dining room
Blanc Manger au Fromage Blanc, Sablé Breton et Marinade de Fraises,
Tate at La Mirabelle