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Le Vieux Pressoir
5 rue Dr Rene Laforge, 85570 Fontenay le Comte
     Tel. 02 51 69 47 90

Sud Vendee.. Haut Bocage.. Coastal Region.. Marais Poitevin.. Marais Breton.. Bas Bocage.. Plaine.. Marais Olonne..
Trevor and I are gluttons for punishment; it’s Monday lunchtime again, the most difficult time to eat out in France, and here we are looking for a decent meal. In all fairness Trevor is busy with changeovers at the gîtes on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and I am unavailable on Tuesday lunchtimes, so we are a little limited. We’ve decided to give Le Vieux Pressoir another try, the last time we tried to eat there it was closed, even though it’s advertising said it would be open, and we ended up with a less than satisfactory alternative.

To its credit the restaurant was open and judging by the car park it was well patronised. We entered the outer dining area and were met by a very pleasant young waitress who seated us, immediately took our order for aperitifs and brought the menus. Shortly afterwards she returned with our drinks and a plate of toasted bread and both Green and Black Olive Tapenade, it was quite delicious, and was a very nice and unexpected way to begin. We decided to opt for the Menu du Jour 3 courses at 15 euros which is a little expensive for a lunchtime formula, so I was expecting great things. The restaurant used to be the reception and breakfast area of a motel which had opened and closed before its time and we were seated in the semi-circular section which had formerly been the reception area. It was a little exposed with glass all round but was very light and airy and was interestingly decorated with old farming and wine producing implements. The tables were set with linen and there were flowers on every table. The flowers were not real, but were very pretty and definitely added to the ambience which overall was very good.

On the Menu du Jour there was a selection of two starters, two main courses and three or four desserts. Trevor went for the seafood cocktail and the Cod, I went for the Melon with Jambon Vendéen and the Pork, and I ordered a pitcher of house red wine. I would have been happy with 25cl but Trevor persuaded me to have the 50cl, and we decided to leave our choice of desserts until later. The entrees arrived; Trevor’s seafood cocktail was smoked salmon, a seafood mouse and a large battered prawn on a bed of salad. It had a fresh pure tomato sauce with it which Trevor said was exceptional, as was the large prawn in batter, Trevor said that it all tasted as good as it looked, and it looked very good. My melon and ham was much as you would expect a good slice of smoked ham with three generous slices of melon. Again it looked good and did exactly what it said on the tin. It was all extremely fresh and hard to fault.

The main courses arrived and yet again they didn’t disappoint. Trevor’s cod was, he said, perfectly cooked, it was served with capers on a bed of steamed rice and Trevor ate it with gusto. My pork was well cooked and was served with duchesse potatoes, broccoli and an unidentified but delicious sauce. Again both dishes were totally fresh and hard to fault. We asked our delightful waitress for a ten minute break to digest the first two courses and for me to finish the wine, which was not expensive and was perfectly acceptable for a house red. I always prefer to finish my wine before I eat dessert as I find that all foods alter the taste of wine, and as cheese can wake up a wine that had seemed dull and uninteresting, I find that anything sweet adversely alters the taste of red wine, making it taste dryer and sour.

The proprietor a delightful lady who spoke reasonable English had begun to take more interest in the proceedings in our part of the restaurant, assisting the waitress who was busy as more people entered the restaurant. Earlier I had watched as she assisted the young waitress in dealing with a problem. Two Frenchmen had ordered a bottle of Chinon red to accompany their meal and were not happy with it. The waitress changed the bottle and glasses immediately and served another bottle of the same, which the men again rejected. I noticed the proprietor taste the second bottle discreetly at the bar, I think she thought that the wine was OK but she changed the bottle again this time for a different wine. All of this was accomplished with no fuss and is a mile away from my experiences with wine in England.

Both Trevor and I chose the same dessert, Crème Vanille which was similar to a crème caramel without the caramel and with a strong vanilla flavour. Both Trevor and I agreed that the taste was superb, but it was a bit colourless and in need of a visual lift, I thought it would also have benefited by the addition of a small biscuit of some kind to provide a juxtaposition to the soft texture of the vanilla cream. Coffee was served and to Trevor’s delight a chocolate covered nut and a bonus of four small fingers of meringue were served with it.

This is a very good restaurant, the formula meal of three courses for 15 euros per head is not excessive however when you add wine, an aperitif and coffee it becomes 25 euros a head, unlike in some other restaurants we have tried where these things are included. The upside is that it is open on a Monday; the food is very well presented, is freshly cooked and is of high quality. The ambience was good and the service was faultless, all in all I’m sure that you wouldn’t be disappointed eating here and I would certainly be happy to return and would be pleased to recommend this restaurant. - Tate

Open    12.00 to 14.00 and 19.00 to 21.30
closed  Wednesday evenings, Saturday midi and Sunday evenings.

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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The Vieux Pressoir
Tate at the Vieux Pressoir