I spent seven months living in the arty city of Nantes in the Loire Valley and I have just returned for a quick blast from the past. These are a few of my absolute favourite eateries in a city full of them…
Café Reflex is where I ate my lunch every Wednesday for five months! This was not because I was unadventurous, yet because I tutored the owners’ two boys. Before the lesson we would spend ‘English time’ over more often than not a Magret de Canard with honey and delicious frites maison. This would be followed by a pot au chocolat, a compact yet very rich and creamy chocolate ganache, divine! With the rustic surroundings and many local friends constantly popping in, I would also frequent this family business with my book for a coffee, the original situation I found myself in when the owner enquired about teaching!
Le Select is a very special place where we spent many an occasion whether it was sheltering from the cold with a thick hot chocolate in dark green and gold crockery, or for a very reasonably priced evening set menu. Gala and I returned here for steak frites with caramelised onion and a Tarte Tatin for dessert. This deliciously warming dessert has a rather quaint story behind it. The ‘Tatin Sisters’ owned a hotel restaurant in the Loire, and one of them was one day preparing her famous apple pie when she got distracted and left the apples cooking for too long. She decided to embrace her folliness and coat the caramelised apple mixture with her special pastry, turn it upside down, and voilà it went down a treat! All this and a big basket of bread for less than twenty euros! Not bad at all I say!
Tabl’O Gourmand was another of our favourites, and we ended up here at least once a week for a get together. Huge hearty salads, assiettes of charcuterie and best of all the Fournée! This has a different name for whether it is taken for breakfast or afternoon tea, yet it consists of the same delicious combination. A delicious ‘ancient’ hot chocolate being the perfect combination of chocolatey yet milky and frothy. This comes with a big basket of in my opinion the best French stick in France (a huge claim I know!) along with pâtes à tartiner… an array of spreads including hazlenut, caramel beurre salé (salted caramel) and the absolute highlight Speculos spread… A biscuity caramelised thick spread that is impossible to describe whilst doing it justice! TRY IT!
Talensac market where we used to go every weekend to buy some goodies for a picnic by the river… Usually consisting of carotte rapée, baguette, grapes, cheese and saucisson! This time we just missed the opening hours and instead of the bustling and vibrant chaos, the area was a ghost town… What a difference an hour makes!
As an end note, Galettes are all the rage in this former capital of Brittany… A black wheat version of the crepe, the city is packed with cosy little corners where you can enjoy these savoury filled goodies!