Back in the summer of 2008, The Frog and I were in
The first thing that we noticed was the room. The dining area, on first impression, looked like a hunting lodge and a part of a Sherlock Holmes novel. There was a large stone fireplace, wood panelling, red velvety chairs, and an exposed beam ceiling at which I couldn’t stop staring. The second thing we noticed immediately after was the quality of the service. From the beginning we admired the clockwork precision and ballet of the staff moving amongst the tables, the experience they had seemed to emanate from every fork placed and glass poured. Yet these both seemed to be the intricate setting in which the jewel of the food was placed.
When we’d begun with complimentary amuse-bouche—green olives and cheese-flecked pastry—we had no idea what a culinary pleasure we’d experience. As I described, I had an appetizer of quail which included its cold-smoked breasts (as did The Frog). What I didn’t say was that once I’d gotten over the shock of the cold meat, I tried one of the legs that accompanied the breasts. They were roasted and stuffed with the ground flesh of another type of game bird (I’m stumped right now for its name). I could have eaten just a whole plate of those. All this was accompanied by a small salad and a sunny-side up quail egg.
I did enjoy the nice contrast of all the subtle flavours of my main dish. Barley is an underrated accompaniment for white fish. The cidery sauce was just sharp enough to provide a top note to the fish’s middle note and the barley’s base note. They all married well together. I have to admit that I was a little less impressed by the main course than the stunning appetizer but I would be doing the dish a disservice to say it was a lesser quality. There was quality in every inch of every dish we had at that table. The food was an interesting mix of French traditions and experimental ideas in food. Even the bread mixed these ideas. There was a mixture of several choices of buns at our tables. I don’t know about the others but mine was bread heaven and almost too stunning to eat. Almost too stunning but not quite enough to keep my greedy teeth away.
I couldn’t decided at the outset what to order for dessert so I ordered everything. Well, not quite. Just a plate of all desserts in miniature. I had ones I liked more than others. I am not a big fan of whipped cream so the framboise cake was a bit disappointing. The chocolate cake was nice but oddly not what I had been looking for that day. The melon was ripe to perfection. Really, French musk melons really seem to blow cantaloupes out of the water. There was nougat ice cream which was nice but not as nice as the peach sorbet next to it. Yum! And of course there was the crème brulée. Who cannot like crème brulée? After, coffee was served with lovely little complimentary cookies.
Le Pelican seemed to fit very well into the theme of the town which seemed to be a colony of artistes clinging to the fringes of an old but partly restored chateau (which we visited later). The restaurant was a quiet little stronghold of quality and pleasure. I’d love to keep it a secret but it would be a shame that someone out there reading this wouldn’t know to try this restaurant with an unassuming outward appearance if they passed through the town.