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Restaurant Hotel du Lac

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Hôtel le Lac

The Hôtel le Lac was recommended to me by Guy the farmer who looks after my garden and I have subsequently eaten at it more times than any other restaurant in the area. It is set just off the main road between La Chataigneraie and Fontenay-le-Compte and is a Le Relais. This is a similar idea to the Le Routier group and often attracts lorry drivers, as the hotel rooms are generally inexpensive and there is a set menu at a reasonable price.

I have eaten some stunning meals at the Hôtel le Lac. There used to be a gourmet menu which consisted of amongst other things Sautéed Foie Gras and pears, Gambas in a Whisky Sauce, Fillet steak, Cheese and a Sweet, often Crème Brulee in my case. There were other selections on the menu but these were generally my choices and they were spectacularly well cooked, it cost 29 euros the last time I ate it and was worth every cent. I’m told, the Hotel changed hands and as a consequence this menu unfortunately disappeared, however the rest of the food is still generally produced to a very high standard. We must all accept change and where I used to visit the Hôtel le Lac for a gourmet experience, I’m now more inclined to take advantage of the fantastic value for money that the set menu affords.

At a cost of about 11 euros (that’s what it was the last time I visited) the set menu which consists of a large and varied buffet of entrées which generally includes crudités, meats, fish, prawns, shellfish, eggs,  vegetables, various potato and rice salads and much more. The cold cabinet is situated in the centre of the dining room and everyone helps themselves, and you can revisit the buffet if you have either the desire or the capacity. There is a choice of two dishes, generally meat or fish for the main course, followed by cheese and a choice of sweets. A carafe of house wine is included with the meal and Trevor, the font of all knowledge on such matters, says it is from the European wine lake so it could be anything. The wine though not a Chateau Margaux, is nonetheless perfectly acceptable and in my experience if you ask for more it comes with a smile and at no further cost. The dining room is large and well equipped with a nice feel to it, unlike so many of these types of establishments which can be soulless. I think the Hotel/Restaurant is a family run affair and the service is relaxed and very friendly. In the evenings there are generally other people eating, which is not always the case in the Vendée, and being a bit of a party animal this normally adds to the ambience for me, making for a much more enjoyable evening. I am told that the set menu on Sunday lunchtimes is exceptional, and that the place is normally packed, this is a treat I have yet to sample.

The last time that I ate at the Hôtel le Lac was on a Sunday evening and it was not at its best. In its favour it was at least open, but the food in the buffet looked very tired, the choice of steak or salmon was supposedly accompanied by a choice of rice or frites, we all chose frites, alas the waitress returned and told us that chips were off as the fryer had broken down, but that the chef would cook us sautéed potatoes if we wanted, we all happily agreed, and we were all very disappointed, The potatoes were soggy and greasy and I don’t suppose any of us ate more than a spoonful each.

In all honesty this is in my experience a rarity for what is an honest to goodness value for money establishment. With the wine included in the cost of the meal, 11 euros really does mean 11 euros, unless you have aperitifs or coffee, and that is hard to resist. I can wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant if you want an inexpensive evening in reasonable surroundings or you are in a large party. My only reservation is don’t bother to go there on a Sunday night.

Tate - 2008

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