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Le Minage Reviewed by TATE
In my opinion there is much more to eating out than just the food and drink that one consumes, there is the ambience of the eatery, the quality and level of service and finally the company that one is in. When we visited Le Minage I had the pleasure of dining with Trevor, his oldest friend David and David’s partner Paul. It was the first time that I had met David and Paul and they were without doubt a charming and engaging couple. The conversation was lively and interesting, David having known Trevor all of his life was poking fun at him in a light-hearted way and Trevor was responding with his usual good humour. We had an aperitif; we were all relaxed and were having a good time.
The restaurant itself was in a modern building, it was split into two parts a large rear section and a front section which suffered from a long glass window giving me the impression that the diners were on display. The left end of the restaurant was a cave (wine shop), which is something that I’d never seen before and probably accounted for the very varied wine list. The décor was not to my taste a burnt sienna colour wash with what I considered to be garish oil paintings of Venice. Now you can call me an old traditionalist but I prefer Turner. The furniture was modern and though not particularly comfortable was certainly in keeping with the rest of the building.
We decided to drink the house red; I saw this as a bit of a test for this restaurant, after all it is a cave as well as a restaurant so if anyone should serve a good house wine at a good price it should be them. We all decided on the 16.50 Euro menu, which was 3 courses, and there was a very good choice in all three. While we were drinking our aperitifs we were served with a small plate of seafood in olive oil, which was very tasty. David and I had both chosen the pâte and Trevor and Paul had the Vendéen salad. The pâte was delicious, it had a strong liver savour, we all had a taste and we were all impressed. The Vendéen salads were well received, however I think Trevor was only being polite about the quantity. He normally compares the quantity of every Vendéen Salad he eats to a local restaurant where the proprietor heaps it on his plate because of the business he generates for them.
The main courses were all very good I went for the filet mignon of pork which was very tender if lacking a little in taste, David and Paul both had Cannet, not knowing the word I spent some considerable time trying to find it in the dictionary but was unsuccessful, so to this day I’m unsure of the true meaning. One thing for sure is that it was duck breast and David and Paul were asked when they ordered if they wanted it rare or pink, they both went for the latter and when it arrived I’m sure they counted their blessings because it was pretty rare, but that is quite common in France. We now come to Trevor’s meal; if you’ve ever previously read about the restaurant experiences of Trevor and me you’ll be able to guess that Trevor inevitably had a steak. He makes life very difficult for me because when you’ve described steak 10 times what can you say that is new. It was he said very well cooked and very tasty, what more can I say.
Onward at a pace to the desserts, Trevor and Paul both had the Tarte au Fruit which was apple and was typical French Patisserie. David went for the Chocolate Mousse, I think he was a little disappointed because he is a real chocolate freak and he didn’t think that it was made from a high cocoa content chocolate. As for me I’m a sucker for a pretty face, and the waitress that had been serving us was a very pleasant young lady with a very pretty face. I had engaged her in conversation over the choice of sweet and she recommended the Pain Perdu, which was a slice of brioche sautéed in butter, served with cream and ice cream. I must confess I was not really impressed, it tasted a bit greasy to me.
Now you may have thought that I’d glossed over the wine, or that I’ve saved the best until last. You’d be wrong on both accounts. We were served with an unremarkable bottle of wine, so unremarkable that I can’t even remember its name. It tasted OK but for 17 euros it was I think a very poor selection from a restaurant/cave that should have access to something outstanding at a good price. You may recall that I said that I felt the wine was a test of this restaurant; well it’s a test that in my opinion it failed.
In summary the restaurant was very busy so it must be doing something right, and this helped the ambience in a dining room that was not to my taste. The restaurant offered good choice for its 16.50 menu, the service was good and the food was good enough, I was disappointed with the wine, perhaps I was expecting too much, and overall there are many other places that I would eat in preference to this restaurant. - Tate
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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