A nice take on the worker’s lunch

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:

The entrance to Le P'tit Bistro.

The entrance to Le P’tit Bistrot.

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:

A large tureen is served for the table.

A large tureen is served for the table.

Next came a really delicious slice of paté, served with a cornichon and a basket of bread. Here’s my plate:

My serving of paté -- delicious.

My serving of paté — delicious.

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:

Servings of the main course, more than enough for three of us.

Servings of the main course, more than enough for three of us.

For dessert, I had this individual apple tarte:

My simple, tasty dessert.

My simple, tasty dessert.

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.

This entry was posted in Cafés in France, French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A nice take on the worker’s lunch

  1. marshp2013 says:

    Looks delicious, Loren, and a great deal too. It’s getting near lunchtime and you’re making me hungry. Your comment about the bread was interesting: maybe you should do a post on France’s world-famous bread.

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks, Paul. I wish I could be more complimentary about France’s “world-famous bread,” but I honestly find the quality varies all over the place — from dry and full of holes to absolutely delicious. Another disappointment for a North American palate is the lack of real variety — meaning it’s hard to find buns of any sort, rye bread, pumpernickel, and so on. It’s more like a series of slight variations on the same theme (it seems to me). But because Jan is allergic to gluten, we tend not to have much bread in the house anyway.

  2. Lesley says:

    A ‘worker’s lunch’ will see me to a good sleep after driving back home – hopefully not being stopped by a policeman doing random breath tests!

  3. Double D says:

    We were inspired to go to lunch after reading your post. In one of our new trendy restaurant areas is a place called l’ouvrier. We got in a cab and spent 45.50 Euros (Cad equivalent) going to the restaurant. How great is Toronto!

  4. Suzanne says:

    Is this the French take on a ploughman’s lunch? 🙂

    • loren24250 says:

      Suzanne, I really don’t think so. To my understanding, the ploughman’s lunch is a particular or specific selection of foods, historically that could be carried easily into a field, where the farmhands worked. So, for example, crusty bread, cheese, a pickle and some ham. But in France, the worker’s lunch can include any range of foods — for example, roast chicken, a stew, or sausages as the main course. And it’s in a restaurant — never out in a field. And it’s several courses, often four, but as many as five. And it includes wine. So it’s really for workers (painters, plumbers, contractors, office workers, whatever) who can take an hour or even two hours at lunch.

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