Fine Dining in
Hotel-restaurant "Le Fontainebleau"
Somewhat hidden in the hinterland of the town of Calais is Ardres, crossed by the Route de Saint Omer, or the N43, a busy road full of lorries. Fortunately the hotel-restaurant "Le Fontainebleau" has got a car park at the back so we can park the car without problems. The "typical French style 'of the building, with the peeling paint and the neglected garden make us doubt for a moment whether we will go inside, but we decide to try it anyway.
The interior of "Le Fontainebleau" is dark and outdated, but it makes it cozy. We arrived a Tuesday, shortly after noon and found ourselves the only guests at the table! A little later another couple arrived and that was it.
The service in "Le Fontainebleau" is very friendly and attentive, without being intrusive or obsequious. On request our hostess gave us an expert advice from the menu.
We choose the cheapest menu, which offered to € 14,95.(£ 12,50) There are three menus: in the most expensive (€ 30 pp) an apéritif is included.
On the € 14.95 menu you get a choice of three starters, three main courses and three desserts.
We choose an aperitif "Picon vin blanc" and a flute of Champagne. With the meal we opt for a big bottle of "Eau pétillant". (Sparkling minearal water) Why water and not wine? Because, in my humble opinion, you have more taste of your food and you do not risk a positive breathalizer test, hundred(s) of miles away from home. Moreover, the chosen dishes were so different that we should have had at least three kinds of wine to order, not to mention the fact that the main course was prepared with beer. So water it was. With bubbles.
First surprise of the day: we are offered an "amuse gueule" aperitif on the house: a toasted slice of "Pain d'épices" (gingerbread) on which a blob of melted cheese, that We recognize as "Maroilles": a regional AOC cheese from "Le Nord" with a spicy smell and ditto taste.
When the "entrée" is served the second pleasant surprise follows: salmon mousse on a square glass plate, where the warm mousse is surrounded by a delicious cream sauce, based on ... Maroilles.
The "Paté" on my companions dish is an example of craftsmanship and attention to detail. The served onion jam was also first class. Both starters are served with freshy baked bread, a delicious addition.
Aftert some waiting it is time for the hit of the day, a "Coq à la bière", which is a stew of cock from poultry of Licques, braised in beer.
The town of Licques is about 5 Miles from Ardres, and is famous in "Le Nord" and "Pas de Calais" for its delicious poultry. The chickens of Licques are quite different from the factory chickens from the supermarket shelves. The Licques chickens are more matue, heavier, stronger and much, much tastier.
Our cock is no exception to that rule: delicious is the only description we could think of. On the plate also a casserole the size of a coffee cup filled with delicious creamy mashed potatoes, topped with ... (you've guessed it) Maroilles. A ratatouille of vegetables completes this nicely balanced dish.
My companion is addicted to French cheese, so the dessert was not a disappointment: four different cheeses on a good old-fashioned "Delft blue" plate, with a slice of bread and butter. For yours truly, the umpteenth pleasant surprise of the day follows suit, when his "Pain Perdu" (French toast) arrives. A plate in Art Deco style dressed with a slice of egg-bread, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, decorated with nut-chips and delicious honey. A true work of art, just like everything else here in "Le Fontainebleau". We finish this unforgettable lunch with a cup of creamy coffee.
We were very fortunate not to be fooled by the somewhat poor appearance of this hotel-restaurant and get the last surprise of the day: a very affordable bill of just under 48 Euros, (£40,00) all included, for this feast for two (including a glass of Champagne!). Talking about "value for money"!.
(within France 0321009363)
Unfortunately, this fine hotel-restaurant doesn't have an internet address.
Hotel-restaurant "Le Fontainebleau"
486 Route St Omer
Telephone form abroad : +33321009363
De Panne (BE)
November 10, 2010
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