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Restaurant Route 66 
Lac de Chassenon.  Chassenon-le-Bourg.
Tel. 02 51 00 85 16

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It was Wednesday lunchtime and even though the social calendar is currently pretty full Trevor still insisted that we go out to review another restaurant. There are without doubt more restaurants in the Vendée than we will ever be able to review, although Trevor is determined to give it a try. We decided not to book anywhere and ended up at Route 66 on the banks of the Chassenon Lake at Marchandelle, next to the lakeside beach of  Chassenon-le-Bourg.

We decided to eat inside as it was a bit windy and the sun was only shining intermittently, but truth be told on a warmer day it would have been lovely to eat on the extensive wooden veranda that skirts three sides of the building especially at the rear where it overlooks the lake. The wooden construction gives the dining room the feel of a log cabin, while at the same time being open and airy, with the long wall being made up almost entirely of windows. We chose a window seat overlooking the lake and even though at the time we were the only ones eating I felt completely at ease. The Proprietor brought us the menus and the wine list, Trevor had tonic water while I decided on a 50cl pitcher of red wine, they were both served immediately and we settled down to peruse the menus which were printed in both French and English. There was a
15 menu which was a starter, a main course and a desert without any choice, but we decided to go for the 18 menu which gave us the same but with several choices per course.

We both chose the Gizzard Salad, which is a favourite for both of us, the gizzards were not whole and were accompanied by a crisp green salad, with croutons, walnuts and a light white sauce. I have to be honest, we eat out a lot which does make us fairly critical especially with the dishes that we eat regularly, and although it was a perfectly acceptable way to start our meal, we both agreed it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. In the restaurant’s defence it is early in the season and there was only one other table occupied during the entire lunchtime service. Fresh gizzards would need to be eaten within a couple of days so it is reasonable to assume that these were preserved and it is quite possible that when the season gets underway and there is greater throughput this will change. Trevor had eaten in St. Giles-Croix-de-Vie the day before and had eaten a fillet mignon of pork, so he went for the Pave de Boeuf which is the equivalent of rump steak and I went for the fillet mignon of pork. Both dishes were served with boiled rice and French beans flavoured with mint, which again due to throughput were probably tinned, having said that they were perfectly acceptable, very tasty and complemented both the pork and the beef. I see this as no different to the ninety percent of restaurants which nowadays serve frozen instead of fresh chips. The fillet mignon was cooked to absolute perfection for me which may have been a touch rare for some. It was very tasty, very tender and the butter sauce that accompanied it was superb. If my pork was good Trevor’s beef was a revelation, Pave like rump is generally the tastiest of the steaks but it can be a bit tough, this one was most certainly not. Trevor cut me a mouthful and I was extremely impressed the meat was tender and very tasty. Trevor said that the pepper sauce that it was served with was not too strong, it complemented the steak perfectly and completely suited his palate. The wine that I was drinking was the house red, it was
4.50 for a 50cl pitcher, we have found even the house wines this year to be expensive and although this one was probably young, and consequently a little fresh, the wine was perfectly enjoyable and good value for money in today’s market.

Both Trevor and I had noticed that the proprietor’s accent had a slight twang to it and so we asked him where he came from, it was a complete surprise though when he answered in an American accent that he came from Indiana. Suddenly it all made sense the log cabin effect, the name Route 66 and the logo all pointed to America. After his disclosure we had a long chat with him and found out that he was called Geoff Lacey and apart from the restaurant, which he had owned for two years, he also owned the large Château on the far bank of the lake. He was married to the chef and between them they had six children, he was a charming man and very interesting to talk to and his wife is without doubt a good chef.

For desert I generally go for something chocolaty, but today I decided on a homemade crème brulée, it was perfect, the topping was sweet and crunchy and the centre was smooth and creamy. Trevor went for the chocolate fondant, the cake was perfectly cooked and the centre was gooey just as it should be, his guess was that it was bought in, but it was well cooked and he thoroughly enjoyed it. We finished with large white coffees which were served with a spéculoos biscuit and the bill came to
48.10. Gone it seems are the days of lunch for 10 including wine and coffee, it seems from the lunches that we have eaten this year that this is about the norm, of course it is still possible to eat for less, we could go to places with no ambience and not have any drinks, as wine, soft drinks and coffee tend to bump up the price of the meal. This restaurant is a great place, I can imagine that in season with a full dining room it would be a vibrant and very entertaining place to eat. As it was I found it relaxed and peaceful, with the view of the lake being a very calming feature, the service was efficient and unobtrusive and Geoff was the perfect host. I would love to visit again during the season to find out how the increased numbers would affect the restaurant, but knowing Trevor I’d have to visit on my own as he is determined to try a new restaurant every time we go out. I would certainly recommend this restaurant. Tate - 2011

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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Salad de Giziers
Pave de Boeuf
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Route 66 restaurant dining area
Tate at the Route66 Restaurant