Big in France takes on a whole new meaning after lunch in the Auberge de la Riviere, Velluire, Vendee.
At the start of the week, it was still January, the longest month and a period of existential angst brought about by too much Trump before Brexit. So when Emily and Matt invited us to join them for lunch, it was just the nudge we needed to abandon any lingering New Year resolutions and start to live again.
This was my first visit to the Auberge. We were shown to a large square table looking out onto the river, a pretty view despite the wet February day. With the menus, came the first giggle as Matt’s was the only one that showed the prices. There are set menus ranging from €23 to €50, a children’s menu at €11 and a la carte options. I was a bit worried for my other half, who is a difficult eater (if I could, I would send him on a cookery course just to learn to eat). But the restaurant was able to offer him a personalised menu of home-smoked salmon followed by a plain fillet steak. The rest of us chose the Menu Sensation.
I am not going to go through everything we ate. For me, what stood out, apart from a caramelised cherry tomato on a lollipop stick, was a perfect French onion soup in a coffee cup, a scallop ceviche marinated in passion fruit and magret de canard with something called a “déclinaison de mogettes label rouge”. This was a surprisingly delicious puree of white beans or mogettes for which the Vendee is famous. Between the mises en bouche, the main dishes and the cheese, we must have had upwards of eight courses. A request for café irlandais was received with a blank stare. Apparently, it’s called Irish Coffee in France.
This was certainly one way to get Big in France. But it was such fun!
Auberge de la Riviere
2 Rue de Port de la Fouarne
Tel: 02 51 52 32 15