Location: Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, Somme, Picardy, France, Europe
Title: Appalling et degoutant
Having visited St Valery at least 20 times in the last five/six years for 4 to 10 days at a time we have eaten pretty much everywhere in the place. Not the Courtgain. We went there last year and sat on the terrace in the late afternoon for a drink. We looked at the menu but there was nothing there that we fancied. On discovering that we did not intend to eat the waiter turned very surly and slammed down the bill. Taking the hint, we left. We were very nearly the only people there and were not taking up valuable space but we were not going to stay where we were so obviously not wanted.
Friends of ours who have a house in the town said we should give it a go, so this year on their recommendation we went.
We had seen on the menu outside the restaurant that they did omelettes which was just what my partner fancied as a light lunch.
'No, you can only have an omelette in the restaurant, not on the terrace'. I asked why and the waitress just shrugged. It was a very hot day and eating inside did not appeal. At this point we should have left, as The Terrace restaurant on the other side of the car park (with an equally good view of the bay) will oblige if they are not too busy, even though it isn't actually on the menu.
My partner ordered moules mariniere and I ordered the foie gras mi-cuit maison and a croque monsieur.
The moules and the foie gras arrived at the same time as ordered. There was a mere dribble of liquid in the bottom of the tureen of moules, which was a disappointment as everyone knows dunking your bread in the juices is probably the best bit.
My foie gras, 2 round slices about 2 inches in diameter was very grey to within half an inch of the middle, despite the fact that it was covered with a thick coating of fat which should have stopped it oxidising and the vaguely pink bit in the middle resisted the point of a knife. It also tasted very strong. At the second taste I realised that it was at least on the turn, if not completely so, and ate no more.
The waitress came and asked should she clear my plate. Now, wouldn't you think she would ask if there was anything wrong? Even in the less culinary proud England they do that, even in quite simple establishments. No, no comment, so I said it was old and hard. She exclaimed Hard!? and left.
She returned later with my croque monsieur and no word on the very gentle complaint. The croque, despite the fact that the top was almost charred, was wet, in fact very wet, soggy and completely tasteless.
I asked for the bill which arrived promptly (unlike the food) and we paid to the centime.
For the first time in all our visits, we left St Valery after a farewell lunch with a vary bad taste, and later on a very worrying moment when I though I was going to throw up.
Having read the testimonials on trip advisor placed there by the French I am left with two choices: are the French not quite the gourmet lot they purport to be, are they so enamoured of the view that they can't taste, or are tourists of the foreign variety singled out for special treatment?
We are not complainers and rarely write a bad review. The only exception being the Bleu Marine just a few doors away from the Courtgain, and at least there they are simply extremely rude and over charge for everything: eg: 1 euro for a little portion of mayonnaise!
All the restaurants in the town that we have returned to many times always give us a very warm welcome, hand shakes and even kisses!
I recommend that you avoid this place like the plague.
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