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La Pigouille. Auberge and Embarcadere.
52, Quai Louis Tardy, 79510 Coulon Tel. 05 49 79 18 15
Coulon is the capital of the Marais Poitevin known as "La Venise Verte" - the Green Venice. This regional park with its strange lazy landscape of fens and meadows shielded by poplar trees and crisscrossed by an elaborate system of canals, dykes, and slow-flowing rivers is a jewel in the crown of South West France. La Pigouille is an Auberge set on the banks of the river La Sèvre Niortaise, which runs through Coulon. Inside the Auberge has and a 70 seat function room and a restaurant with a traditional chimney, but the real gem is the pavement terrace where one can relax and enjoy one’s meal while watching the world drift by on the languorous river that slips slowly by.
Trevor and I visited La Pigouille on a Wednesday lunchtime which is incredible as, according to their web site which I only looked at on returning from the restaurant, they are closed all day on Wednesdays. We got there early, which I would earnestly counsel if you aren’t going to book and you want a table outside. We had a beer while we perused the menu, which was pretty good, but we weren’t seriously interested in it, we were here by recommendation, to try the menu du jour which was only 11 Euros. This consisted of a set starter, a choice of two main courses, a cheese course and a sweet.
The terrace filled up pretty quickly which added to the ambience of eating outside by the river. Even the onset of a shower of rain from which we were well protected by an awning couldn’t dampen our spirits. Now if you’ve read any of my articles before you’ll realise that often, somewhere in them, a young lady is featured, and this one is no exception. As we were sipping our beers and drinking in the atmosphere a young English lady at a table nearby asked me if, as I spoke French, I would enquire of the waitress if it was OK for her and her gentleman companion to just have a drink. The enquiry was I’m sure prompted by the fact that the waitress had just left a basket of bread on the table, and I must confess that I thought that the table was pretty obviously set for lunch rather than a casual drink, but who am I to say. Ever the gentleman I did as requested and seeing as the young lady and her gentleman friend had already got drinks I was not surprised when the waitress answered that it was OK but asked that they didn’t take too long over them. Considering how busy the restaurant was and how obviously a dinning establishment it was, I was impressed, in the past I have been charged a fortune as a table charge when I naively stopped at a restaurant on the coast for coffee at lunchtime. Having grown up in a tourist area I know just how annoying tourists can be especially when they stop you doing your job, so I thought the staff reaction was pretty laid back and generous.
And so on to the food. The starter of Melon and Ham was a bit of a throw back to the 80’s for me but it was none the worse for that, in fact I thought it was quite funky, it was fresh and tasty and both Trevor and I enjoyed it. We both chose the roast chicken for our main course, the alternative had been sausage and although I would have liked to know what it consisted of I was hungry and was in no mood to experiment. We got a whole leg of chicken each with puréed potatoes, it was copious, tasty and very well cooked, and we both agreed that it would have been hard to cook plain roast chicken any better. The cheese course was two small pieces of cheese, one wedge of camembert and a small round of goat’s cheese. To be honest the camembert was so tasteless that we had to a, I suspect it was very young; the goat’s cheese was far tastier and it did bring out the flavour of the 50cl carafe of Côte de Blaye that I was drinking. Trevor, in a rare moment of clarity, made a very interesting point which was that the restaurant had served a little dressed salad with every course which had had the effect of cleansing ones palate. Another interesting point was that the bread, which was very good, just kept on coming.
The sweet course was a piece of coconut flat cake with crème anglais and a piece of chocolate flat cake with a chocolate sauce. Both were fantastic and they complimented each other superbly. We finished with coffee and Trevor took great pleasure, as usual, in pointing out that here they did serve a small chocolate with it. (This is a reference to my favourite restaurant which doesn’t serve a chocolate with coffee) The whole meal, including drinks was 40 euros and in my opinion represented great value for money. The food was very good and so far as ambience is concerned, it doesn’t get much better than eating outside next to a river overlooking a very pretty town in my opinion, so you won’t be surprised to hear that this gets a very high rating from me and for the tourist this is one certainly not to be missed.
Tate - 2008
About the author: Tate spends the summers in the Vendee and is passionate about good wine and good food,he writes exclusively for the www.vendee-guide.co.uk
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