Tag Archives: restaurant review

The Good Moules Frites Guide!

Hotel Restaurant "Aux Trois Jean" at Le Crotoy

This year seems to be a good one for moules (mussels).  Moules Frites is, of course one of the favourite dishes of Northern France, but, like wine, the shellfish ingredient  can vary from year to year.  2012 seems to be a vintage year for plump, moist, tender and tasty moules.

Currently our favourite place to eat this traditional dish is Le Crotoy, a fishing port on the Baie de la Somme, the estuary of the River Somme.  You will find Moules served here in pretty much every eating place from the humblest cafe to the poshest white-linen restaurant.

Frogsiders can recommend, in particular, two places in Le Crotoy where we are confident you will enjoy your dish of mussels served, bien sûr, with chips.

Le Cafe des Canotiers

14 Quai Courbet – 80550 Le Crotoy – Tél : +33 3 22 27 80 56

Our verdict:  Excellent moules.  Good thick chips.  Pleasant service.  Not the most picturesque situation unless you eat outdoors with a view of the quay and harbour.

Recommendation:  Try the house speciality, Moules “Les Canotiers” in which cream and home-made fish soup are added to the cooking liqour.

Hotel Restaurant “Aux Trois Jean”

Digue Jules Noiret – 80550 Le Crotoy – Tél : +33 3 22 27 16 17

View from the "Trois Jean" terrasse

Our verdict:  Top A1 quality moules.  Fabulous, really brilliant chips!  A big restaurant that can get very crowded, so best avoid the busiest times.  Eat before the rush, is our tip.  Service is friendly but can be a bit brusque at busy times.  Inside, the chairs and tables are packed close together, so eat out on the terrace if it’s a nice day.  The view over the beach and the bay, with its big tides, boats and changing scenery, is attractive and interesting.

Recommendation:  Try the chef’s own “Moules 3 Jean” which has cream, mushrooms and lardons added to coat the lovely shellfish.  Messy to eat, but worth it!  You can follow up with the “Coupe 3 Jean” dessert which sounded great to us, but just a bit too big for what was left of our appetites!

La Garenne ~ a funky place for satisfying food and wine

by Ian Blackshaw

Restaurants come and go in terms of quality and value for money. And one such Restaurant that has had a rather chequered history in recent years is ‘La Garenne’ in Huby St Leu, just outside Hesdin.

Grande Salle at La Garenne

My wife and I – and several of our friends – used to go there regularly
until a couple of years ago when the food went off and the prices went up.
Several of our friends – and we ourselves – have had some disappointing
meals there, when all we could hear was the ping of the microwave from the
kitchen as prepared food was heated up and then served!

Recently, we were told that that the owners had introduced a more reasonably priced menu of €19,60, instead of the previous one of €38. So a few Saturdays ago, we thought that we would give it another go – and we were not disappointed. The food was freshly prepared and there was a good choice. To make sure that this was not a flash in the pan, so to speak, we went again on Friday evening. Again, it came up to expectation and we enjoyed it very

I started with escargots a la bourguignonne and my wife with a fish dish, which rejoiced under the French name of ‘dos de poisson a la crème de pistou’ – both delicious. We then chose the ‘plat du jour’, which, to reflect the season, was venison stew with a selection of well-cooked vegetables – the French generally speaking are not good at veggies! These
included – again seasonal – Brussels sprouts – and rosti potatoes, which complemented the venison, which was very flavoursome and tender, very well indeed!

For dessert, we chose one of their famous – and quite generous! – coupes: for me, a coupe garenne with rum and raison ice cream; and for my wife, a fruit berry coupe.

We chose, from their excellent and renowned – but quite pricy – wine list a 2003 Chateau-bottled Fronsac, which was served at room temperature – and, I would add, in the proper bordelais glasses! – and went down very well indeed. Incidentally, they operate a loyalty card system and on your fifth visit to the restaurant you are entitled to a bottle of their finest Champagne gratis!

As usual, we had a table by the fireplace, on which, incidentally, they cook some of their meat dishes.

‘La Garenne’ – as Jaimie Oliver might say – is a funky place, both outside and in, and lives up to its name – the warren! It was decorated for Halloween. Indeed, on the way in through the garden one was met by life-size skeletons and wild beasts! They are also well known for their Christmas decorations, albeit, for some people, somewhat ‘ott’!

The bill came to €67 and, quite full and satisfied, we paid and staggered from our table and, on leaving the restaurant, we went for a post-prandial – and much needed – walk around the block!

We will certainly be back – if only to claim the free bottle of Champagne!

Contact Details:
Restaurant ‘La Garenne’
62410 Huby St Leu
Nr Hesdin
Tel: 03 21 86 95 09
Website: http://pro.wanadoo.fr/la.garenne

Restaurant La Planquette, Cavron St Martin: good wholesome French country cooking at a reasonable price

My brother-in-law and his wife have been staying with us for a few days to celebrate her birthday and they very kindly invited us out for dinner. They left it to us to decide on the restaurant. This was a great responsibility, given that my brother-in-law enjoys French food and wine and is a member of the prestigious and exclusive ‘Pink Elephant’ Dining Club in Bristol. There, they specialise in French food and wine from various Regions, bringing in Michelin-starred chefs to cook for them! All rather grand and a lot to live up to!

So, it was with some trepidation that I chose a local restaurant, as they do not like to go far in the evenings, even in search for excellent cooking, and wanted a typical local place. The Restaurant de la Planquette is in nearby Cavron St Martin, a few kilometres outside Fressin. It is situated in a charming spot, along side the river Planquette, from which it takes its name, which is a small tributary of the river Canche. The Restaurant has recently been refurbished, but has preserved its rustic style and décor.

The Caron family who run La Planquette seen here in the restaurant dining room (photo: La Voix Du Nord)

We had a table near the fireplace, in which a roaring log fire greeted us. The location and ambiance were an instant hit, so the first hurdle was duly cleared. We ordered an aperitif, a bottle of 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from the Pays d’Oc, and this was served with a selection of charcuterie and crusty French country bread – again, this went a down a treat!

We all chose the €18 menu, which offered a variety of starters, including my favourite snails. My brother-in-law chose trout served in a cream sauce, which again passed the test for freshness and flavour. For mains, he chose steak, and the rest of us chose magret de canard, both of which melted in our mouths. We washed this down with a 2005 Chateau-bottled Bordeaux, which was very good indeed and served at room temperature – in other words, slightly on the cold side, which brought out its flavours. A plate of local cheeses followed, including maroilles, accompanied by a green salad with a delightful dressing. For desert, we chose home-made pastries and ice cream.

By now, we were all well and truly satisfied and decided to have coffee – and a digestif – at home. The bill came to a remarkable €115 for the four of us, including tax and service, which was very friendly and attentive. My brother-in-law pronounced the choice of restaurant a great success, not only offering good cooking – in the cuisine bourgeoise style – but also excellent value for money. I was quite relieved!

Contact Details:
Restaurant de la Planquette
8 rue Mairie
62410 Cavron St Martin
Tel: 03 21 86 90 64

St Omer Restaurant Wins New Award!

Patrick Hay re-visits a favourite from way back in the ‘90s
(article first published in Frogsiders Magazine – Oct 2009)

You never forget your first kiss, they say, nor the birth of your first child. Well we have another first to add to this list – your first GPS sat-nav destination.

When we took delivery of our new car last week we couldn’t wait to try out the built-in sat-nav. Fiddling about with the buttons, we found the system included a facility to indicate all manner of useful places like Hotels, Petrol Stations, Hospitals and Garages, and amused ourselves by getting it to find restaurants. Each establishment was indicated by an appropriate symbol representing the type of cuisine. The national flags for French or Italian food, a plastic-looking hamburger for McDonalds, and so on. You just touch the symbol on the screen for details of the restaurant and touch another to set it as your destination.

And so it was we rediscovered the Moulin de Mombreux, a restaurant we used to visit in the 1990s when we were still living in London. In those days it had one Michelin star, lost, we assumed, sometime in the intervening years. I remember dining there once with a couple of friends when I overheard a French diner at a table nearby remark to the proprietress, in a rather surprised tone, that he noticed she had a table of British customers. “Oh, yes”, she responded, “some English tourists even seem to know a bit about good food and wine, these days”. Clearly, however, neither of them imagined a mere Anglais would be able to understand their French conversation.

Our new sat-nav guided us gently and swiftly to our first destination. In fact, this is not an easy place to find without some kind of navigational aid. Not far from an ugly cement factory and down a lane that appears to go nowhere, we were beginning to think the place had disappeared or closed down, when suddenly we glimpsed it hidden among trees by a pretty river. There are two buildings, one modern, housing the hotel rooms, and an old attractive watermill where the restaurant is situated.

We decided to eat in the Bistro du Moulin rather than the more expensive restaurant itself. The bistro is on the ground floor. It’s comfortable but a little gloomy. The well-preserved wooden shafts and gears of the millwheel are prominent on one side of the room, but the small windows don’t let in a lot of light, and there are none on the side facing the river.

Tartelette Savoyarde

The Bistro menu is very moderately priced at 13€ for three courses with coffee (2009). For a couple of euros less you can have either a starter and main course or a main and dessert. We chose to have all three with a glass of wine each and some water.

Our starters were a dainty Terrine de St Jacques, small but delicious, and an unexpectedly large Tartelette Savoyarde, a pastry flan of potato, cheese and lardons. Both starters were nicely presented with a little salad for decoration. To follow, my Fricassee de Vollaille au Sirop de Coing was excellent, the meat dark and moist with a rich, unctuous sauce. The Nage de Poisson et Raviole d’Ecrevisse arrived tepid at best, and had to be sent back to the kitchen to be heated up. This was a pity, as everything else about the meal showed a careful attitude to preparation and presentation.

Tarte du Jour

Our desserts, Tarte du Jour (Chocolat Blanc), and a dish of various ices were both prettily presented and equally delicious.

The bill was only 33 euros for the two of us, so after the briefest possible debate, the judges unanimously awarded the Moulin de Mombreux the grand honour of “First Destination” to be stored in our gleaming new car’s sat-nav.

Hôtel-Restaurant Le Moulin de Mombreux
Chemin de Mombreux
62380 Lumbres

Moulin de Mombreux website

Frogsider Blogs is re-publishing some of the best articles and reviews from the Frogsiders Magazine pages, which are to be gradually phased out over the next few months.


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