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We discovered, after a recommendation, this beautiful restaurant near les Monts de la Madeleine in the region of Forez, part of Le Roannais.
We had, in fact, heard of this restaurant before from some of our French friends but never visited it.
Le Petit Prince is described in one of the local tourist guides as a ‘Restauration Gastronomique’. It ‘lives’ in a little village called St.Alban les Eaux, the home of ‘St.Alban’, a well known brand of bottled water which is sold internationally, including England.
St.Alban les Eaux is an attractive little village just 15km outside Roanne, and Le Petit Prince is tucked away down a little driveway announced by an arched and decorated metal gateway.
On a late, warm, and sunny summer’s evening we arrived with great expectations – we were not disappointed.
This was a bit of a treat for all of us, but we’d planned it as pre- eighteenth birthday meal with our son OJ while he was out with us in France.(A good excuse!!)
We were pleasantly greeted by a young waitress/maitre d’ dressed smartly in black with a black apron.
We entered a superbly decorated courtyard and terrasse and led to a table under a large, leafy tree.
The place was smart traditional, and it was obvious that we had arrived at place that was professionally run, and serious about its job of providing gastronomic delights.
We sat in anticipation as we were delightfully served by very friendly waitresses and a very experienced maitre d’hotel.
After a champagne-pêche aperitif we were were served with cold tomato gazpachio, and then we all had grenouilles (frogs) as our starters (my 6 year-old son, Ellis also nibbled his way through a full portion to himself!). Superbly presented on a white oblong plate, and absolutely delicious!
We, of course, also had ‘St Alban’ sparkling water, along with a pretty good Chateauneuf du Pape – Chateau de Vandieu 2001. Served, I might add, at a perfect temperature!
For main course I had Fillet de Charolais avec cepes with carotte mousse and petite tranche pomme de terre. I have to say, one of the best cooked fillets I’ve ever tasted in France!
My son OJ had the same, and my wife, Lucy, had grilled lamb with purrée of carotte and griddled courgettes, and sweet corn fritters. Both enjoyed their meals as much as I did.
The wine was flowing, the ambience of our surroundings improved even more as the evening sunlight faded. The warmth of the night and the warm friendliness of the service we were receiving just made the experience a total delight.
After our main course we were served a little tastebud refresher in a shot glass, consisting of wild strawberries and pistachio sorbet – just perfect!
Dessert was also superbly made and presented.(we had chosen when we had ordered our main courses, and these were obviously beautifully and painstakingly made for us.
These were a mixture of chocolate and vanilla artistically presented in the form of little gateaux with twirled biscuit. (just to die for!)
My writing and description about this fantastic little restaurant cannot do it justice at all.
It must be experienced directly, so that you can simply make your own assessment.
But one thing is for sure – if you visit this region it is ‘obligatoire’ that you visit this restaurant, too!
To my wife’s embarrassment I had the urge to take some photos, and was even invited by the maitre d’ to take some shots of the working kitchen, too.
Some of these you can see here. Happy eating!!
Le Petit Prince
Le Bourg. St Alban les Eaux
Telephone: 04 77 65 87 13
Menus de 22 to 54 euros. Menu Enfant 11 euros
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