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Le Port L'Aiguillon-sur-mer.
Te. 02 51 56 40 43.
I have eaten at Chez Gegene several times before during my 18 years of living in the Vendee, but never during the height of the holiday season. It is a restaurant that I have recommended to guests who wanted to eat seafood on the South Vendeen coast. The restaurant is on the bridge between L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer and La Faute-sur-Mer, it is very easy to find and parking is never a problem. The restaurant’s main drawback for me has always been its lack of ambience as it is a modern structure with no real feel to it, though this has always been made up for by the excellent fresh seafood that they serve.
Normally when I go out to do a restaurant review it is with our own man of words "Tate", but on this occasion he was unable to come so I took along and old family friend, David. He has joined Tate and I before so he was well aware of what was to come. We never introduce ourselves so when I start taking photos of the food at the restaurant we get some strange looks and this time was no different. We choose to sit outside as it was quite humid and inside felt a bit stuffy. We were separated from people walking along the foot path by a glass screen, though there were very few passers by especially as it was the middle of August.
There was a choice of several formula menus from 12€ to 34€ or you could go A la Carte. We choose the 17€ menu as it offered moules done 4 different ways followed by steak, Skate or Cod finishing with either a cheese board or a choice of sweet.
It was not difficult to decide what to have as both David and I love our fish so we both started with the Moule a la creme which arrived quite quickly and turned out to be delicious. I knew the moules should be good as l'Aiguillon-sur-Mer is the Mussel capital of France and they are sure to delivered to the restaurant fresh every day. The moules were served with a beautifully fresh baguette and were as good as any I have eaten in any restaurant.
We both decided that the second course would be fish so the steak was ruled out and of the two choices Skate seemed to be the one to go for especially as a lot of skate is caught locally were as Cod probably is not. Again the speed of delivery was most unusual for a French restaurant; we put this down to the fact that in high season they wanted a quick turnover of customers so that more could be seated. I have to say that what came was most disappointing, possibly because we hadn't read the menu properly, but the skate turned out to be served in a small casserole dish with a layer of potatoes on the bottom then a small portion of skate covered with a mushroom sauce then cooked in the oven. It was very tasty, but over-cooked. I must confess that I don't like my fish messed with, I like it fresh and pan fried so that the greatest amount of the, delicate taste is retained.
To finish we had the choice of the cheese board, or sweet which was a choice of ice cream or Ile Flottante, we choose the latter which was pretty average.
The meal did not live up to our expectations mainly due to the fact that we had both eaten there before and had received much better service and better quality of food, so my recommendation would be if you are determined to eat there, do it out of season.
Trevor August 2009.
P.S. It is inevitable that as soon as you have written an article something will change and so it was with this one. My French neighbour came in and I mentioned that I was not that impressed with the Chez Gegene restaurant, He just shrugged his shoulders and said "No its not the same since the new owners took over, perhaps they will get better."
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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