The Potting Shed Pub.

On the way to my aunt’s house we always pass through a village with a name I find rather amusing – Crudwell. It reminds me of when I was younger and we’d say “crud” as an alternative to swearing (mainly because we thought it WAS a swear word and it was the only one we knew).

Moving swiftly on. We went for a lovely luncheon at the only pub in the village (it’s a rather small place) and all had mussels. Well, why on earth not?

Dan and I went for moules marinières which were superb (accompanied by double cooked chips. Hummina hummina) whereas AJ was more experimental and went for a Thai spiced mussels. Safe to say, there wasn’t a single mussel left!

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Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks at Covent Garden

My good friend Shirley is doing a tour of Europe before she returns home to Chile (boo!), so as London was on the list it was a good chance for a final goodbye.. **sniffles**

I had a long list of things she HAD to do: Buck House, London Eye, Parliament, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum… Let’s face it, you’re never bored in London.

As it turns out, though, we did none of that. We did however go to the West End to see War Horse (highly emotional and such amazing visuals!) and then dine in Covent Garden. I don’t think I’ve had a more chilled London experience, and it was perfect!


Shirley had a list of British foods to sample, such as fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding – and Jamie’s restaurant catered for both of these delights!

For starters I went for the ricotta and beetroot salad, with toffee hazelnuts – there was too much beetroot with no flavour (no dressing, salt, nada) but my, those hazelnuts were TO DIE FOR. I ate them up pretty damn fast.












Shirley went for a Cumberland sausage with bacon and wholegrain mushroom – very English! There was none left, so I take that for a good sign.







Mains. Shirley – fish and chips, of course. It wasn’t your traditional greasy chips out of a newspaper ordeal (which I must admit does add to the charm), but the fish looked nice enough, if a bit heavy on the batter. Shirley said the actual fish (haddock I believe) tasted a bit funky – metallic, almost.. Uh oh, Jamie..


I ordered the chicken caesar salad, and it was spectacular! I got a whole half a chicken! The skin was crispy and lovely and salty (salt is my weakness!), and the baby gem lettuce fresh and crisp, smothered in the dressing. Ten out of ten for me!

And even though we were pretty full (okay, we were stuffed), we decided to get dessert anyway – don’t judge. Shirley got her sticky toffee pudding (admittedly she couldn’t finish it, but that’s what happens when our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.. Just) but she loved it! 
 
I went for a Marathon bar ice cream (why they couldn’t just call it Snickers I’ve no idea..) and it was heavenly! 
 
According to Shirley it beat the Snickers ice cream she had in Rome – that’s some high praise indeed!

 

Chez Boris

For Sunday lunch, a feast of meat was in order, so of course that only leads to one option: Chez Boris.


Owned by the same guy who runs Tonton Bobby, I was hoping this would be more impressive as Chez Boris is a proper restaurant offering three courses, whereas Tonton Bobby only has the one. 


I ordered their last portion of snails which annoyed Dan no end, as they’d run out of frog’s legs as well (which shocked us a bit – they had barely any starters left!) so he just pinched a few of mine. Unusually, these came in a cream sauce (my goodness, it wasn’t a healthy weekend) which was a nice change from the normal garlic oil.


Then the speciality of Chez Boris – beef. It comes out just a slab of meat on a plate, then the waiters bring you bowls of salad in a gorgeous vinaigrette and bowls of the most divine and fattening chips cooked in beef dripping so you can help yourself. 

Most of us went for the steak, but Dan went for a burger and claimed it was the best he’d had. 

 
Unfortunately there was no room for dessert. 

Les Caves Jean Jaurès

Les Caves Jean Jaurès is a treasure of a restaurant, located in a side street just off Place Jean Jaurès, opposite a couple of lovely cocktail bars. And I have to say, this is probably the best meal I’ve ever had! 

Seeing as I was finishing my time in France, I decided to go the whole hog and have foie gras to start with – good choice, Philly. Just look at it! Served with a creamy mushroom sauce (SO healthy..) and crudité veggies, it was just the right amount for a starter. What was more impressive was that the wine was served according to what you chose off the menu! 
AJ’s starter of parma ham and roasted tomatoes with a parsnip purée.
The boys.
My main: scallops with a black risotto. Wish I had the recipe for this!



AJ’s main: rack of lamb with all the trimmings. Perf! 

 

If you do get a chance to go here, I do recommend it, though it’s not the cheapest of places – maybe a treat for a birthday or anniversary? 

Le chat perché

My time in Montpellier is up! How quickly a year goes by.. My family came out to pick me up and pack up my copious items of clothing (I ended up using 3 suitcases as well as having things in everyone’s hand luggage.. Whoops.) which of course involved delicious meals out – and I wasn’t paying for once!

 

 
Due to the strikes in France (quel surprise!) my family arrived a day late (a day of eating out missed… how sad) but thankfully the restaurant let me rearrange to the Saturday. This still left the Thursday, and we went to Le Chat Perché, recommended to me by my French friend, so it ought to be good!
 
 
For starters, I ordered the goat’s cheese tian but swapped with my uncle who ordered squid thinking it was something else as he doesn’t like squid – such a martyr, I know. But they were both nice – I had to pinch a taste of my original starter and I preferred that to the squid, but it was still rather tasty. My one complaint was that the cream was a bit flavourless – it just tasted of cream.
 
 
For mains, my aunt, cousin and I all ordered the duck brochettes and this was by far the star of the show! It was served with quinoa (which I’ve never been served in France), mashed potato and a mini frittata, which personally I could take or leave. But the duck was so juicy and perfectly cooked! 
 
A very nice first meal with the family, and the wine went down a treat! 

Tonton Bobby.

A new restaurant opened in Montpellier with just three things on the menu, all costing 20€: a burger, half a lobster or a lobster hot dog. Naturally I had to try it.

 

Owned by the same person who owns Chez Boris (there’s two in Montpellier and one in Paris), I was expecting big things – and I don’t just mean the size of the platter! Mat and I went for the half lobster, which came out super fast, with a side of chips, salad and a weird cheese dip. 




And I must admit, it wasn’t the best lobster I’ve had. It wasn’t overly warm when we got it, and lobster goes cold quickly anyway, so I was just eating cold lobster. That isn’t really a problem, but the dip was overpowering – a simple pot of melted butter would’ve sufficed. 

 







Helen went for the lobster hot dog, which was less of a hot dog and more of a salad sandwich according to her. She said it was nice, but at 20€ that is a VERY expensive sandwich.

Overall, it was good to have tried it, but I can definitively say that I shan’t be going back.. Which is such a shame as I love lobster! 

Le Nouveau Monde.

Sunday’s are normally hangover days for me in France as very little is open on a Sunday. The weekend Mat visited however the trams were playing up, so we couldn’t even go out on the Saturday, which left us with the question of what to do Sunday. We decided to go to the lake.


I’d never been to the lake before, so we recruited a group and headed off for a picnic (the sun did come out eventually!). 

That evening we decided to go to another restaurant, this one being recommended by a friend who’d gone there with her boyfriend. And there was a deal on – three courses for 26€. How could we refuse?!


Honestly, I’d have paid more for what we had – it was that good. To start, I had an aubergine charlotte, which I’d never had before. It was stuffed with a herbed cream cheese and served on an arrabiata sauce and to my surprise it was served cold. Which made you notice the flavours more. Which I loved. My goodness there was a party in my mouth. Even Mat, who is a self-professed meat lover, polished mine off when I couldn’t eat anymore and really enjoyed it! Oh how France can change a person..



Mat stuck to his adventurous streak and went for frog’s legs, which we both thought were nice but nothing special – a sort of fiddly, bland chicken, and a lot of work for little meat. Well at least he can cross it off his list.









My main of brochettes of prawns and ling fish was stunning. Juicy fish, served with fried potatoes and a warm green bean salad.. Definitely considered undoing the top button of my jeans to fit it all in!












Mat tried the veal, which again came with the fried potatoes and green beans. His veal, rare of course, was served in a pepper sauce with mushrooms which was spectacular – juicy, rich red meat with the bite of the pepper sauce. Delicious.





Unfortunately I was defeated by these two courses, but Mat powered on and ordered a mille-feuille with a chocolate and coffee mousse (which I may have tried.. I did. And I don’t regret it one bit!). 

All in all a very French meal, and a bloody good one at that!

 

La Poule au Pot

Mat’s visit was a weekend crammed with trying all the French foods. On the first day, he went through two pain au chocolats, a chocolate macaron, a canelé, a smoked salmon galette and a fro-yo, all before going out for a three-course meal.. Boy, that’s impressive. 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
But what’s even more impressive was the meal itself. A 5* restaurant located in a side street near the main square, we were given a glass of Kir whilst we browsed the menu, which turned out to be a veritable delight! 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
To begin, I had an oven roasted camembert with rosemary and thyme, served with new potatoes, whilst Mat, ever adventurous, wanted to try the foie gras. Major success for both of us! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Each course came with a glass of wine, handpicked to accompany whatever you had ordered. Rather fancy indeed!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The main course was superb. Just look at the size of those prawns! I felt so un-ladylike though de-shelling them and ending up with saucy fingers in a place like that, but a girl’s gotta eat! Cooked in a basil and pesto oil, served with diced vegetables and mashed potato… I seriously recommend this place!
 
 
 
 
 
Mat chose magret de canard, which he polished off quite easily (bar the plums – far too healthy), whilst exclaiming that French food is much better than German food.. 


Sorry, Germany, you stick to making cars and organising things, we’ll stick to the food. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Le restaurant Duo

Exams over, sun shining and to top it off – a visit from one of my best friends! We lunched in my favourite restaurant in the main square (Le Café Riche) once Char arrived, ordered a cheeky bottle of vino and didn’t stop talking as we wandered around Montpellier!


Saturday evening we decided to go to a restaurant, and this one I’d wanted to go to for a while: Le Duo. 

Everything on the menu screamed delicious, but unfortunately I would be judged if I’d ordered it all, so I settled with a starter of vegetable tagine with goat’s cheese and garlic. It was so fresh and tasty, just the thing for a hot summer’s evening.

Char opted for the goat cheese spring rolls (we’re notorious cheese fiends!) which went down a treat.




For mains, I ordered the speciality of the restaurant – a cheese risotto partnered with fresh squid. Although it was really nice, I expected a little more pizzazz to the house special – it fell a little short in my opinion. But then again, a mediocre meal in France is still going to be damn good!












Char went for lamb on a bed of mashed potatoes with a red fruit jus and basil oil – even thinking about it makes me feel hungry.




Then arguably the most important part – dessert. I went for a duo (get it?!) of pannacottas which were just lovely! One was vanilla, the other a summer fruit concoction – the perfect end to a lovely day with the bestie! 

Burger et Blanquette, Montpellier

For my best friend’s Megan’s 21st I treated her to flights to come visit me in the good old south of France. 

 

She loved it! And who can blame her! She tried her first ever macaron (right), we explored, we shopped, we laughed.. It was such a lovely weekend! 
I’ve never seen my fridge so full!
And of course we ate.
 
Lots.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We decided to have one main evening meal out (the other night was just MADE for going out!) so we headed off to Burger et Blanquette, a place I’d tried to go before but it’s always heaving – I made sure I booked this time.
 
 
We dolled ourselves up and headed off into town. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








 
A simple menu, consisting of Burgers: many different types of burgers (beef, chicken, fish) and then with an array of accompaniments, or Blanquette: salads, fish dishes, steak etc. 
 
 
Meg’s went for the Burger Savoyard, comprising of cheese, bacon, a hash brown (in the bun!), parsley cream and garnish, served with chips. 
 
Hands down the best chips of my life. 
OF MY LIFE.  
 
I stole the parsley cream as a sauce for my chips as white sauce isn’t really Meg’s thing, and my oh my is she missing out (more for me!)
 
 
 
I ended up going for the Chicken Caesar Salad with a side of chips, and it was not only tasty, but massive! And at only 15€ it was definitely value for money.
 
 
We left full, slightly merry, and with no burning hole in our pockets.
 
 
I highly recommend this place (I’d love to go back!), but make sure you book!