Tag Archives: French food

Restaurant review ‘Le Buffet’

by Ian Blackshaw

A warm welcome awaits you from the chef patron, Thierry Wident,

The restaurant

The restaurant

and his charming front of house wife Christine, who ensures everything runs smoothly, at this elegant and excellent restaurant, which is housed in the former station restaurant, hence the name ‘the Buffet’, opposite Molinghem railway station, Isbergues, near Aire sur la Lys on the borders of Flanders and Artois.

The cooking reflects the local traditions and draws on local ingredients: poultry from Licques,

One of the specialities at Le Buffet

One of the specialities at Le Buffet

a village in the region which is renowned for the quality of its fowl; fresh scallops from Boulogne; fresh fish from the Cote d’Opale; vegetables from the market gardens of Saint-Omer; and wines from the Delepine cellars in Liettres.

As the Wident’s say in their ‘blurb’: ‘Why have an ordinary day when you can have a festive one?’ Indeed, why not! You will not be disappointed. My wife and I have dined at this restaurant a number of times over the past few years, having been first introduced to it by some foodie friends, and have been impressed by the consistency of the quality, inventiveness and presentation of the cooking. After all, you eat as much with your eyes as with your taste buds!

Apart from the ‘a la carte’ menu, there are several set menus to choose from, which are changed to reflect the seasons. On our last visit, Christine had the aptly named ‘flavours and surprises’ four-course menu and I had the three course ‘winter delights’ menu. Christine had turbot for her main course and I had chicken from Licques. Both dishes were served with delicious sauces and fresh seasonal vegetables, which were cooked to perfection. Generally speaking, unlike the English, the French are not usually good at cooking vegetables – or even serving them!

Christine’s menu also included a cheese course,

Local Maroilles cheese

Local Maroilles cheese

with a large selection of cheeses from here and there, including some local goats’ cheeses and maroilles.

The deserts were delightful:  a rhubarb-based creamy one for me and Thierry Wident’s signature and award-winning desert of spiced biscuits and mousses with caramel ice cream for Christine. Following an old Spanish custom, we each tasted one another’s and declared them ‘impeccable’!

We downed a half bottle of 2007 Chablis and a bottle of 2006 Cotes de Rousillon. Le Buffet has a very fine selection of French wines to choose from to suit all tastes and, of course, all pockets. To try some of their very best wines, we really do need to win the Euro Lottery – the only problem is, we never buy any tickets!

And the bill came to €130 – remarkable value for such exquisite and refined cooking!buffet restaurant3

Contact details:

Le Buffet
Rue de la Gare – Lieu-dit Molinghem
62330 ISBERGUES
Tel: 03.21.25.82.40
Fax: 03.21.27.86.42

  • RESTAURANT REVIEW – AUBERGE DU CRONQUELET

    by Ian Blackshaw

    cronquelet1This is a country inn, near Saint-Josse, with good honest country cooking using fine locally sourced ingredients – the mark of fine French cuisine bourgeoise! It has been described as ‘a home from home’ and you will certainly receive a very warm welcome from the chef-patron, Jean-Pierre, a well-travelled bon viveur!

    You will eat in a rustic dining-room, adorned with an eclectic assortment of antiques and good taste bric a brac and be served by the faithful Philippe-Konan, from the Ivory Coast.

    A large earthen-wear pot of homemade country pate will appear on your table with freshly-baked crusty French bread and gherkins and you will be encouraged to eat as much as you can – it comes gratis as part of the welcome! We often have this as our starter, but, in fact, there some nine starters to choose from! There are eleven main courses and a fine desserts trolley, the latter comprising some half-a-dozen delights to choose from, including a tasty rice pudding! And, if you are still hungry at the end of the meal, you can choose a little of each and make up your own ‘assiette gourmande’!

    The food is complemented by a small and selective but good wine list and the prices are reasonable.

    The signature dish of the house is magret de canard – one of my favourite French dishes, and, being close to the coast (la cote d’opale), there is also fresh fish on the menu.

    cronquelet2For a two course menu with a good bottle of wine, expect to pay about €75 for two persons.

    If you are planning to go there at the weekend, you will need to reserve a table, as the restaurant is very popular, especially for Sunday lunch!

    There is also a separate dining-room, the site of the old communal forge, and known as ‘l’ancienne forge’, which can accommodate up to 50 people for special lunches, dinners or receptions.

    The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

    Contact details:

    L’Auberge du Cronquelet

    3, rue de Montreuil
    62170 SAINT AUBIN
    Tel:/Fax: 03.21.94.60.76