Lunch was at a Country Estate - Hostellerie La Briqueterie, in Vinay. With accommodation and a Michelin rated restaurant (1 star) it was very impressive. Certainly the most posh establishment I have had the privilege of visiting. We were both glad that we had dressed up, with a jacket part of our attire for the day.
It was one of those places where the staff held your chair for you, regardless of whether you were male or female. They also escorted you to the toilette, and rebels your chair on your return. No paper towels or hot air dryers here for wet hands, instead cloth hand towels were supplied with a quaint basket to deposit them in once used.
As for the cutlery - for the first time ever I was unsure of the protocol. Cold carrot soup, with ginger, avocado and shrimp was served in a shot glass, with a tea spoon. To spoon or slurp? Still not sure, though I spooned as elegantly as I could.
The meal was amazing. Degustation was the aim of the game with approx 7 courses served. Two appetizers, one being raw salmon with caviar and dressing, the next the carrot soup. Being a non carrot girl I was delighted to find this was very tasty. Then entree of fish and scallops. The only challenge being they were served raw and cold. Yes, both the scallops and the fish. Honestly if this place wasn't so gorgeous I can't guarantee I would have managed to eat two thirds of this dish. It would have been bad manners not to try so battle through it I did. Only problem was I got the giggles. The dish was so extreme, Frank bravely tried a mouthful. His response? Yum yum. That was enough to set me off again. I laughed so much I had tears rolling down my cheek. The main course was incredibly good, lamb so soft it melted in your mouth. This was followed by desert, baked figs with prune compote, which again was incredibly good. Believe it or not we were then offered cheese from a trolley, which we politely declined. If there was one cheese on offer there were twenty. The French certainly love their fromage. There was still more to come. Incredibly, with tea and coffee we were presented with a little plate of sweets. Did I mention how full I was?
Luckily I had recovered my composure by the time the chef, Michael (pronounced Michel) came to our table to say hello. In his late 20's it is considered quite an achievement that he came to this estate as a new chef, yet has retained the Michelin star awarded previously.