27 January 2010

Woof Woof Stop Smoking

Hearing that I was going off to the DIY superstore yesterday morning J spotted an opportunity to get fed. ‘I know a lovely little restaurant down that way’ she said. ‘How many Michelin stars does it have’, I asked. ‘It won’t be that expensive’, she replied, ‘it’s only got two’.

After she picked me up off the floor, put the car keys in my hand and ushered me into the driver’s seat, we were off. My usual tactic in these circumstances didn’t work. I drove slowly hoping to miss the final lunch orders but sod’s law determined that all the lights were green and the roads were uncharacteristically quiet, quiet enough that I wasn’t able to get involved in any road rage incidents and slow us down further. And so I resigned myself to a huge boost for the French economy and enormous damage to mine.

As I was driving through the wooded countryside not far from Valbonne trying to calculate just what the damage to my wallet might be, we passed Le Bois Doré (the Golden Wood I think it means), a restaurant which a few years ago changed ownership and started to introduce lunchtime fixed price menus. The sign outside said the Formule was €17.50.

‘Fancy trying Le Bois’, I said. ‘No – let’s go to my place’, J insisted. ‘It was nice the last time we went’, I countered. She got the message. ‘Ok – let’s try it but remember the last time – you nearly got into a fight, they might remember you’.

Anyway, a quick u-turn later and we were heading up the winding path through the wood which surrounds the restaurant. It looked very quiet and it appeared that my hopes of a lunch coming in at less than €200 were going to be dashed. I needn’t have worried. Once inside the doors, the place was buzzing with an eclectic mix of diners – guys from the nearby business park, bosses with their secretaries, groups of women having girlie lunches and the occasional married couple (you can tell them a mile away – they don’t talk!). J also reckoned there were a couple of gay girls at the next table to ours but got extremely upset when I said they were ‘too gorgeous to be gay’. She thought that was sexist.

Anyway – lunch was terrific. An amuse bouche of mushroom soup with croutons was served followed by hot bread rolls. The starters were ceasar salad for J and a pepper and chorizo tart pour moi. The mains were daurade (fish) for J and I had the Shepherd’s Pie which was served in a glass jar – strange. A glass of wine was included in the price and it was fantastic value at £16 a head.

As we headed back to the car, we passed through the summer terrace which is where the previous altercation took place. It was a beautiful summer day and J and I had decided to try Le Bois Doré. In those days it was a really expensive place to eat and we were seated in the summer terrace with quite a few other people. I had taken my last cigarette with me but conscious that other people were still eating, I waited until they’d all finished whatever course they were eating and then I lit up (this was before the smoking ban).

No sooner had I started to puff away when the old guy at the next table came over and chastised me for smoking saying it was anti-social (I suppose it was), that it was harmful to my health (probably) and that I had no respect for other people (they were only French).

I told him to go away or something similar and finished my cigarette. The waiter then appeared at their table and set down three plates which confused me a little because there were only two of them. When their food appeared they started taking portions of their lamb and putting them on the third plate and then, to our amazement, this poodle appeared, sat up at the table and started eating the lamb. Right from the table from its own plate!

Well – that really started me off. I laid into the couple telling them that I’d never seen anything so disgusting but apparently this was not uncommon in France (you don’t see it so much these days thank God) and a bit of an argument ensued.

So – two trips to Le Bois and different experiences. I think I preferred the gorgeous gay girls at the next table!


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