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TAZ BAR  Pizzeria,  Grill,  Saladerie  Review by Tate
30 rue des Hetres. Cheffois. Tel. 02 51 52 62 19

Sud Vendee.. Haut Bocage.. Coastal Region.. Marais Poitevin.. Marais Breton.. Bas Bocage.. Plaine.. Marais Olonne..
And so begins our search for good food, a good ambience and value for money here in the Vendée, I’m personally looking for eye candy waitresses as well, but that’s a whole different ball game.

Our search this year begins in Cheffois, a small village just out of La Chatigneraie on the Chantonay road. The front of the property has been modified with sloped decking which affords good wheelchair access but once inside the bar getting into the dining area would be a struggle as there are 2 steps one of which requires crampons and pitons. I didn’t have T8 with me and with the strong arm of the barman/maitre d’ assisting I managed to get into the dining room with relative ease.

The dining area was small, with tables poked in anywhere they would fit, offering a very cosy 40-50ish covers. The décor was in the style of the American West, I am reliably informed that Mexican theme nights are a feature here. Even though the restaurant was busy Trevor and I were sat at a table for 4 and the Maitre d’ cleared the other 2 settings, this was very accommodating as I noticed that on other tables for 4 people were expected to share. There was a menu of the day which was Foie Gras, followed by Andouillettes, tripe sausages which few if any Brits that I know like, cheese and a choice of sweet.

Both Trevor and I had spotted the hors d’oeuvres table which was groaning under the weight of a massive selection, all of which looked very fresh. Now I love Foie Gras but like every other diner, so far as I could see, we both went for the hors d’oeuvres. The variety was good, it included a whole salmon, slices of duck breast, various cold meats and slices of salami type sausage, pate, rillettes, pizza and all of the usual salad like suspects. Hors d’oeuvres tables are not uncommon here in the Vendee especially at lunchtime eateries, so the competition for the best table is fierce and while this may not have been the biggest it was right up there with the best of them. Everything on it was tasty and fresh and I didn’t even give the foie gras a second thought. Trevor and I try to order different things when we eat out in order to give the broadest possible analysis of the restaurant for our reviews and somehow Trevor always seems to get the first pick. This is of course because I’m a Gentleman, on the other hand it could be because I’m a procrastinator, whatever the reason he went for the Duck, which left me with a choice of Vendéen Ham, a bit like gammon, or Salmon as a main course. I went for the Vendéen Ham, which was served with a Cep Mushroom Sauce, and a choice of rice, frites, vegetables or pasta. I went for the frites. Everything was very good, the ham was perfectly flash cooked, sometimes it can be overcooked and turn out a bit like cardboard, and the sauce was fantastic, deep, rich and full of the distinctive taste of the Cep mushrooms, the frites were pre cooked and warmed through so they weren’t crisp but they were nonetheless very tasty. Trevor’s duck was by all accounts just as good, although it wasn’t slices of duck breast rather pieces of duck he was delighted with both the flavour of the duck and the orange sauce that accompanied it.

All the tables had a 500cl carafe of red wine which no doubt would have been replenished if desired, Trevor had his customary ¼ glass and I struggled manfully and drank the rest, it was a perfectly good Vin de Table and was made even more acceptable as it was included in the price of the meal. So copiously had we eaten that we passed on the cheese course going straight to the dessert. Trevor had pineapple in fact he had half a pineapple served with a cherry sauce, he enjoyed it so much that there was a time when I thought he was going to eat the skin as well. I plumped for the cold rice pudding served with caramel, it was my kind of dessert and I loved it.

The restaurant was very busy with several tables emptying and filling for a second time, and all of the other diners were French both of which are normally a very good signs. Everything we ate was very good quality, and I would think that the chef is a bit special for this kind of establishment. The presentation was good enough though unlikely to win any awards, and the service was impeccable. As an aside the waitress that served us was delightful, she spoke a good smattering of English and was more than happy to use it, sadly I’m sure if I’d tried to take our relationship out of the cordial business one that we enjoyed, No, would have been a word that would have rolled easily off her tongue, still the beauty of not asking is that you can continue to dream.

We adjourned to the bar for coffee, which was strong and suited my pallet; the bill came to 11 euros a head for the meal and an extra 1 euro for the 2 coffees. To summarise the food was terrific, the service superb and it was great value for money. Although the actual dinning room was cramped it had a great atmosphere and everyone, staff and customers alike were very friendly, and for me, as I love mingling with the locals this more than made up for any lack of space or view. You of course may differ in your opinion, but for the price you can certainly afford to go there even if it’s just to prove me wrong.

I thoroughly recommend the Taz Bar and it certainly sets a very high standard for establishments we will visit during the rest of the summer.

Tate - June 2009

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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