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Le Bistrot de la Cathedrale, Chartres

Le Bistrot de la Cathedrale

“La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres… incomparable. Le Bistrot de la Cathedrale… oups.”

Reviewed 2 July 2015

It's not unusual to be served with lack-lustre food when we go out. It makes the places which have real talent and care even more enjoyable. What disappoints is when an establishment representing one of the world's major cuisines falls short of the mark in so many respects; even with the French classic, Poule Au Pot.

The Bream/Daurade/Dorade dish which I chose is shown on the restaurant's Facebook page here. Mine wasn't quite as well presented and gave nothing but a brief challenge to my taste buds.

Let's not detain you longer except to say that I don't recommend you go and try this place to check against my opinion. Please just take my word.

Smoked salmon gravlax with dill sauce: This was a strange interpretation with the fish swimming in nut oil. The dill sauce was nothing except a glass of milk which had been heated for creaminess and then allowed to cool. There was no discernible flavour of dill.
New season asparagus with a hen’s egg: The egg was a relative triumph compared with the rest of the plate. The yolk was runny and provided a good coating of sauce. The asparagus was young and tender but the spears and thin strips were crying out for a gentle but assured searing to add some class to the proceedings. Seasoning was lamentable. An overload of heavily dressed salad leaves was unnecessary.
Two false starts, I’m afraid.
Poule au pot: Surely this would be better. A simple classic. However, apart from a suggestion of flavour in the liquor the vegetables proved to be watery and the chicken unaccountably dry.
Bream with curried lemon: I couldn’t trust that the lemon had been prepared by the cook but it was interesting. The fish, while having a slightly satisfying crisp skin, was, alas, overcooked.
It is always frustrating when a menu appears attractive but the cook does not understand how to bring out the best from ingredients.
Throughout the meal we attempted to engage servers with a little conversation. This proved more or less impossible. They were unresponsive, almost surly.
A half bottle of Sancerre provided mild distraction from the fact that we had to eat poorly considered dishes which were prepared with little sensitivity.
We discarded the pain of choosing dessert, paid and left. The bill was paid in silence to the final, sullen member of staff.
Outside we reflected on a poor dining experience.
The cathedral towered before us and the memory of glorious voices from the visiting Chichester Cathedral Choir earlier in the evening reminded us that architects and choristers can do magnificent things even if a chef cannot.

At least we can all console ourselves and agree that La Cathédrale Notre-Dame remains fabulous. Here are some of the west front's 12th century sculptures to remind us of that fact: 

All images and content are the property of Geoff Griffiths. Copyright Geoff Griffiths 2014 ©