Is this French love affair of mine ever going to end?
The short answer is: I don’t think so!
Tonight TC and I decided to dine in Delicatessen, an extremely unobtrusive little restaurant in Marseillan – one of my favourite villages of all time in France. Why? The village has everything one’s heart could desire. It is situated on a lake, which means fresh coquillage every day, yes every SINGLE day, of the year. Oysters, mussels and all the rest, from the lake direct from the fishing families to your shopping bag daily, say no more.
But there is a lot more to say. Next to the lake – or “a cote d’etang” there are vineyards. Quality vineyards and lots of them. Chateau Bauvignac is a personal favourite but there are more, so many more.
So lets summarise so far… we have a quaint old village that dates to pre-roman times with its own port, fresh daily seafood from the lake, close to the beach (Mediterranean) with the climate you would expect, lots of vineyards close by. Hmm.. have I missed anything essential? Well yes… the restaurants! This town is like a little oasis of good restaurants. To the point where I almost don’t want to tell you about them because I want to keep it all to myself!
But, I can’t resist, it has to come out, so here it is. There is a good diversity of restaurants here, and Delicatessen is probably the most modern of them all. There is a delicious blend of current and past, current being the menu, fresh dishes made with pride from local produce, and past being the vintage decor and quirky items used throughout. Hey, I couldn’t even resist taking a picture in the toilets!
Tonight we wandered in just after 8pm to find we were one of the first tables in to dine. Just a small word of warning for those not used to the French way – 8pm is considered early. We might have thought the restaurant was not going to open as it appeared to be empty, but no, we were the first in to dine and by the time we left there were several other tables occupied – this is just the way it is. First time travellers be warned – don’t expect to eat early in Europe!
TC decided on the dish that is the specialite of the house, the “deliburger” while I went for “gambas sauteed avec Noilly Prat”. Translation: prawns sauteed with Noilly Prat, which is the vermouth made locally and made famous by James Bond (go on, google it, you won’t be sorry!).
He was tres impressed with his burger – it comes served (cooked to order) complete with greens, tomato, camembert, egg and cornichons all between slices of freshly toasted baguette, with a small glass of aoili and a side order of duck-fat fried chips. OK frites. He declared it to be top notch.
My gambas were sweet, juicy and tasty, grilled with garlic and herbs and served with a mashed-potato-to-die-for. When the chef came by and asked how we liked everything, I just had to ask how he cooked those potatoes… apparently with garlic oil and aioli – carefully mixing to taste – and I have to say they tasted very VERY good. Another thing I’ll be trying in my kitchen.
This is the kind of restaurant you can go to with a group of friends, as a couple, or just on your own, and you will always be assured of finding an understated chic atmosphere that you won’t want to leave. It isn’t dolled-up formal, it is a more casual setting, but the food is quality.
Was it purely the decor, was it the music – at times laid back soul, at other times slightly hard rock – or was it just the simple understanding that this waiter, this chef, want you to enjoy what they do best? Whatever the reason, there is much to enjoy. This was my third visit, it will not be my last!