Congratulations if you recognize the title as belonging to a melancholy short story by Ernest Hemingway, in which a tipsy old man is reluctant to leave a café late at night. Halfway through the story, one of the waiters says to another: “You do not understand. This is a clean and pleasant café. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves.”
Today my wife Jan and I discovered such a place, and I bring it to you in the spirit of introducing a pleasant place you might otherwise miss, and also in the spirit of encouraging other modest restaurants to follow this restaurant’s example.
We were off on a drive late this morning, and had stopped for coffees at a place called Restaurant du Pont in Castelfranc, about 40 kilometres due south of Daglan. Castelfranc is a pleasant village, right on the banks of the River Lot. While having our coffees, we noticed the ardoise (slate) out front, showing the daily menu. Looked good. And the staff seemed friendly and happy to see us, even for coffees. So at lunchtime, we made our way back to Castelfranc to give it a try.
Here’s the front of the restaurant:
And here’s the menu du jour:
What it says is that you’ll receive five courses for 12 and a half euros. After a red-wine-based apéritif called a Fénelon, Jan and I started with a vegetable soup (heavy on carrots, as it turned out, not huge on flavour). Then we progressed to a nice salad of endives and two halves of a hard-boiled egg, dressed with vinaigrette; a daube of beef served with whipped potatoes (with roast turkey for my wife, as she is allergic to gluten and the sauce of the daube included flour); a small serving of cheese; and then a slice of chocolate cake for me (my wife skipped dessert). With coffees and a half bottle of wine, and including the apéritif up front, our total bill came to just over 43 euros.
But the reasonable and generally quite good food isn’t my only reason for recommending Castelfranc’s Restaurant du Pont. It’s because, for a modest restaurant, Restaurant du Pont is a very pleasant place to be. For example, here’s a look at the terrace, where meals are served during warm weather:
Here’s a look at the front entrance of the restaurant, seen from inside:
And here’s a look at a rear corner of the restaurant, near the table where Jan and I were sitting:
The state of the washroom sealed the deal. It was spotless, and tiled from floor to ceiling. At the sink, there was a full container of liquid soap that worked easily. And there were paper towels — not a communal towel hanging limply on a hook, as we still find in some French restaurants.
So there you have one of the secrets to making customers happy, Monsieur et Madame Restaurant Owner — don’t ignore the simple things that make people comfortable. There’s lots to be said for a clean, well-lighted place. (With a clean bathroom.)