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35,rue du Port,Fontenay le Comte. Tel 02 51 69 02 10
Le Cap’tain is a bar/brasserie in Fontenay Le Compte which we visited on a Tuesday evening, having tried to eat at two country Auberges both of which were closed. All we could think was that the Auberges, which would normally have closed on a Monday, had opened as it had been Bastille Day and so they were taking the Tuesday off in lieu. Who knows, I have yet to fathom the vagaries of the French catering industry. If you asked them they would have an answer, which no matter how implausible to you, would be delivered in a completely matter of fact manner as if it was so obvious, that it was you that was crazy for not knowing.
Thankfully Le Cap’tain was open and Trevor and I gratefully sat at a table outside and ordered a beer. Le Cap’tain is known for its extensive beer menu, but in truth I was just a little disappointed with it. There must have been thirty different beers on the list, but unfortunately there was no San Miguel, my personal favourite, and as far as I could see, not a single Czech beer such as Budweiser Budvar (the original Budweiser) or Pilsner Urquel. I personally think is an omission, after all the Czechs did invent pilsner beer. Like it or not, there was also no Budweiser (the American one), no Becks and no Sol. There were in fact many beers missing that I would have expected to see on a specialist beer menu; however there was plenty of choice and plenty of beer that was worth drinking.
It was a balmy evening and we were sitting outside on the pavement, the view of the coach park isn’t the best, but the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. Our waiter, who was one of the proprietors, was lively, very cheerful and very helpful. Though I had all but chosen Leffe Blonde myself, he was good enough to recommend it, and though it was not San Miguel it was perfectly acceptable.
Having started with the disappointment of the Beer Menu I have to continue in that vein and get the below par stuff off my chest. The worse thing about the evening was that when we arrived there was a beautiful young woman at the table next to ours. My pulse quickened, I thought that, as she was on her own, maybe there would be a chance to enhance our evening and engage her in conversation. Unfortunately she spent the whole time talking on her mobile phone, she was even talking on it all through the process of going to the bar and paying her bill. Now I’m all for mobile phones, God bless, I used to sell them, but there is a time and a place for everything. I don’t think that people should use them in places where they become intrusive or are likely to impinge on other people’s enjoyment except, of course, in an emergency. I think that restaurants should be places where you go to enjoy the whole experience the ambience as well as the food and that is hard to do when someone next to you is constantly talking on the phone. From the snippets of conversation that I couldn’t help but overhear, the calls were not to the restaurant emergency services, and quite unlike me and beautiful ladies I was glad when this one left the restaurant. That aside I was enjoying myself, perhaps it was the ambience, perhaps it was the beer, whatever it was I was happy.
I ordered the La Vendéenne a salad of eggs, tomato, cheese, olives and Vendéen ham as a starter, followed by carpaccio of beef. Trevor ordered La Fermière, a salad of tomato, croutons and hot chicken livers followed by entrecôte and chips. I might have ordered the entrecôte myself, but I am conscious that people do not want to read endless reports on the same type of food. It was a grand gesture on my part and like my maxim of not eating seafood on a Monday it was to blow up in my face. The salads arrived and though I’m no great salad lover mine was superb. Trevor’s was also very good, though not as copious as the chicken liver salads he’s used to. His entrecôte however made up for it, it was big, no who am I kidding it was of dinosaur proportions. It must have been a foot long and an inch thick, which for entrecôte is exceptional, it is normally small and thin. It was served on a huge oblong plate which also accommodated an enormous quantity of real chips, not frites but honest to goodness chips. My carpaccio of beef was good enough, although I was expecting it to be a little bit tastier, and compared to what Trevor was ploughing his way through four wafer thin rounds of beef and a small dish of chips left me feeling a little deprived. Trevor magnanimous as ever did give me a piece of his entrecôte, just for the review purposes, and I can report that it was succulent, tasty and melted in my mouth.
As you will guess I was finished well before Trevor and it gave me the opportunity to have another beer and a nose at what the other diners were eating. Plenty of people seemed to be eating the Moules which are served in a choice of twenty one different ways, and I saw plenty of people eating the Brochette de St. Jacques which was a skewer of scallops, fish, onions and sweet pepper served with rice and a beurre blanc, it looked really good and as usual I was lamenting my choice.
At last Trevor had finished his gargantuan feast and we moved on to the sweet menu, it was good I had a banana and chocolate pastry with chocolate ice cream, while Trevor had a Pineapple tart with crème fraîche, both were very good, whether they were made in house I’m not so sure but whoever made them definitely knew what they were doing. We finished with coffee and the bill, unfortunately it was my turn to pay, and considering the amount of beer we had drunk, which I always think is very expensive in France when compared to the prices in the supermarkets, I thought it was good value for money. I thought it was especially good value when you consider how much they must have paid the hunters that chased and caught the dinosaur that Trevor partook of.
My view of La Cap’tain is simple, the food was very good, the presentation was excellent and in general it was very tasty and perfectly cooked. The atmosphere was relaxed; the service was good and friendly and the cost was not over the top. I would definitely like to revisit La Cap’tain, the next time hopefully I won’t be reviewing it and I will be able to indulge myself, after all where else can you get dinosaur and chips. Tate
About the author: Tate spends the summers in the Vendee and is passionate about good wine and good food,he now writes exclusively for the www.vendee-guide.co.uk
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