We love eating out and when someone who lives locally recommends a restaurant then we feel duty bound to try it out – well that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it! We tried twice to get in to this particular restaurant but it was fully booked which, of course, made us even more determined to try it!
The restaurant in question is called La Terrasse and can be found in the little village of Grezels which isn’t far from where we live. It was to be third time lucky for us as I called to make a reservation which was accepted – woohoo! You enter the restaurant via the terrace, which was very small considering that is the name of the restaurant. The dining area was large and cool – it was like stepping back in time – a large fireplace dominated the room, there was a dresser which was large enough to house a small family, all the tables were adorned with red tablecloths and all set ready for guests – it was to be another busy lunchtime.
You would imagine that this kind of operation would require a large team of chefs and waiting staff, but no, it was run by a husband and wife team. Madame was the chef and Monsieur, who was a bit of a character, was front of house. I asked him if they opened in the evenings but he said they are retired now so only do lunches!
We were shown to our table where we had Kir as an aperitif and a carafe of red was swiftly put down beside us. There was no menu as there was no choice – there is actually something really nice about that – it’s like being in someone’s home – you don’t get handed a menu when you go to a friends house for a meal. It also means that you end up trying things that you may not necessarily order which is a liberating experience.
Within a few minutes the soup terrine was placed on the table and we were left to have as much as we wanted. It was a simple vegetable soup but beautifully home made. We politely just had the one bowl. When the Monsieur came to clear the plates he asked us if we had tried Chabrot – it sounded like a drink or some accompaniment to the soup but when he gave a demonstration, we realised it was a tradition.
When you have finished your soup you add red wine to the bowl – how much wine we hear you ask? Well you have a choice. For the beginner, you fill up to where the top of your soup spoon sits in the bowl, for the more experienced, you invert the soup spoon, creating a higher level, then add wine to the top of the upturned spoon. Then you take the spoon and scrape the soup from the sides of the bowl to mix with the wine. Once you are happy that all the soup is in the wine, you lift up the bowl and drink directly out of it – oh yes, you can remove the soup spoon now or it will poke you in the eye.
With our new found skill, the Monsieur left us to guzzle the wine (believe me, that’s all you can do when you are drinking out of a bowl) as he went back into the kitchen. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was just a big joke and when he spoke to his wife he would have said “that’s another two English people I have fooled with the old Chabrot trick”. But when I spoke to my neighbour about it, she said its true and that’s what they used to do but not to try it in a more upmarket restaurant!
Getting back to the meal, we were then served a lovely courgette and salmon quiche. Again you could taste it was homemade with lovely simple flavours. As with many vegetables here, they have a much more powerful flavour so although courgette can be watery and sometimes bland in the UK, it has a much more robust flavour here. We did think at this point that this was our main course so imagine our surprise when our plates were cleared and a platter of sliced rare beef arrived with a red wine jus and roast potatoes – it was delicious. The French have a natural ability to be able to cook meat perfectly and this platter was no exception.
La Terrasse Grezels Tel 05 65 21 34 03