Yesterday turned out to be a good day to have lunch with our friend Tish, so my wife Jan and I suggested that we drive up to St. Laurent la Vallée and eat at Le P’tit Bistrot. And there the three of us had a really enjoyable worker’s lunch.
A bit of background: You might hear a menu ouvrier (worker’s lunch) described as a menu du jour, or menu of the day, but that’s not quite right. The difference is that a menu of the day could refer to the “daily special” in all kinds of restaurants, including some that are relatively expensive. By contrast, a menu ouvrier is typically served only at lunch, and is designed for (no surprise) workers who are looking for a hearty but inexpensive meal. The fact that there are typically no choices allows the kitchen to keep costs down.
I’ve written several times about places that offer a menu ouvrier, for example in the posting “Cheap and cheerful — and generous,” on July 10, 2013, if you want more suggestions.
But to get back to yesterday’s lunch, let’s start with a look at Le P’tit Bistrot, which is about 10 kilometres from our home base in Daglan:
Le P’tit Bistrot was called Lou Cigalou when we first started coming to the area, and it changed names (with new owners) a couple of years ago. Jan and I had tried its menu ouvrier once before, and enjoyed it, but for some reason hadn’t returned for lunch until yesterday. However, we have often stopped at Le P’tit Bistrot for an espresso if we’re doing a bike ride that takes us through St. Laurent la Vallée, and have always found it welcoming.
Yesterday, Trish and Jan began with a kir as an apéritif, while I had a vin de noix — and then the food started arriving at our table (which already held a large bottle of red wine, which is included in the menu ouvrier).
First came the soup, served in a large tureen so that we could help ourselves to as much as we wanted. It was a hearty vegetable soup, full of leeks and carrots. And here it is:
Next came a really delicious slice of paté, served with a cornichon and a basket of bread. Here’s my plate:
Then came an incredibly tender beef dish as the plat principal, — a daube made with joues de bœuf, or beef cheeks. With roast potatoes (and a slice of polenta for me), the stew of beef with onions was delicious:
For dessert, I had this individual apple tarte:
The bottom line: For all of this, including the apéritifs at the start of the meal and coffees at the end, with the red wine included, our total bill — for the three of us — was 45.50 euros. Pretty amazing.
Beyond that, the kitchen (and our server) worked around Jan’s gluten allergy beautifully, for instance, serving a salad instead of the paté (which no self-respecting French person would eat without bread). All in all, it was a very nice take on the worker’s lunch, and I know we’ll return.