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Fruits of the Sea at Restaurant de la Loire, Roannais By Lucy Franklin

Something for which France has always been famous, even in a central region such as the Roannais in the Rhône-Alpes, is it’s ‘fruits de mer’.

Purefrancenow has to eagerly report on an extremely convivial event which Brian and Lucy Franklin experienced recently at one of the Roannais’ most reputable local restaurants. Lucy Franklin tells the story:

Brian, myself , and our son, Ellis, were extremely lucky recently to be invited by Brigitte and Alain Rousseau as their guests at their beautiful Restaurant de la Loire for their annual and festive ‘Soirée des Fruits de Mer’.

A very successful team, Brigitte is maitre d’ and Alain chef de cuisine.

Together they have run their restaurant near the banks of the famous river la Loire for some 26 years – continuing Brigitte’s family business which was originally run by their grandparents, and then her own parents. So, a 3-generation family restaurant business and home. In the past, the restaurant’s building was originally a “guinguette” (a place for food and music.)

Having visited Restaurant de la Loire on many occasions, particularly during the summer months ( the garden and tree-shaded terrace is truly beautiful), and have enjoyed their hospitality, Brian and I knew that we were in for a special treat.

Let me just mention here, that having explained to Brigitte that I am not keen on crustaceans of virtually any sort (slight problem, here!), she, however, immediately suggested that Alain would be pleased to prepare an alternative fish dish for Ellis and myself. Typical of Brigitte’s very accommodating attitude and natural friendliness. Although Ellis was quite enthusiastic to give Brian a helping hand in tackling the ‘fruits de mer’ – the shellfish, prawns, and crab, in particular.

We were not the first to arrive at around 7.30pm, though even on a Friday night this is still considered early for the French.

Greeted warmly by Brigitte who is exceptionally convivial and professional, it is refreshing when someone so obviously loves, and takes so much pride and pleasure, in what they do. This is certainly the case at Restaurant de la Loire.

The menu, of course, did not disappoint.

We began with delicate appertisers of hot little quiche tartlettes and mise en bouche of purée garlic potato and fish.

Brian then continued with a rich fish soup, whilst Ellis and I were served specially-prepared foie-gras, beautifully garnished petite asparagus.

The ‘Fruits de Mer’ ceremoniously arrived creatively presented with crushed ice on its elevated silver platter. Always spectacular to the eye, a graphic, colourful melange which always turns heads when brought to the table. Piled high on a bed of ice and seaweed, there were crabs, langoustine, oysters, prawns, bulot (snails of the sea), small Irish shrimps, other smaller shellfish. Side dishes of garlic mayonnaise, and sliced lemon were all that was necessary as accompaniments. (plus all the various dissecting cutlery impliments necessary to break shells, claws, and dig meat out of almost impossible holes, nooks and crannies!). Interesting to me, but also a little bizarre!

Meanwhile, although Ellis was keen and fascinated to test all the weird-looking sea creatures (and did!), our specially and kindly prepared fish course arrived.

Beautifully presented as expected, pan-fried fish on a sumptuous bed of leeks with a delicate cream sauce. Yummy! Perfect for someone who adores fish – even if they dislike anything that comes in a shell!

The tables around us had gradually filled, and the ‘Soiree des Fruits de Mer’ was in full swing, and the two large rooms were abuzz with enthusiastic and delighted chatter, and the sound of cracking claws!

The restaurant was full and everyone was enjoying the relaxed and polished hospitality that comes so easily to Brigitte and Alain.

Although Ellis was the only child in the restaurant, as is the norm here in France, it was perfectly acceptable for him to be part of such an evening, and I’m sure it must be a pleasure to see an 8 year-old enjoying his food, as Ellis most certainly does.

He already appreciates quality cuisine, and is ready to try anything. He cleaned his plate!

Brian cleaned his platter, too, all washed down with chilled maison vin blanc. He then followed with a selection of regional cheeses. I opted for ‘fromage blanc’, and Ellis, of course, dived into vanilla ice cream.

Then a warm, delicate, tarte au pomme was served, drizzled with a caramel sauce, and spoonful of vanilla ice-cream – absolutely gorgeous, and a perfect finale to a very special, and delightful evening.

We certainly appreciated Brigitte and Alain’s welcoming generosity as their guests here at Restaurant de la Loire.

We will, of course, be returning very soon, and Purefrancenow can heartily and highly recommend this excellent restaurant to all those who appreciate exceptionally good quality food, and attentive, efficient service.

Restaurant de la Loire, Purefrancenow Roannais Restaurant Directory.

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