With the worst of the pandemic seeming to fade, restaurants in France recently were allowed to receive customers — but only on their outdoor terraces; to be seated inside a restaurant, we will have to wait until June 9. But yesterday, Jan and I, with friends Rosemary and Richard, got our first taste of the new near-normal — that is, lunch on a terrace.
The occasion was another trip to Toulouse for my afternoon medical appointment, for a quick check-up. The timing allowed us to have lunch beforehand, and so Jan had reserved a place for the four of us at noon on the sidewalk outside Chez Jeannot — certainly our favourite seafood restaurant.
I first wrote about Chez Jeannot in a posting of June 18, 2020 (when we could still eat indoors), and here’s a quote from that piece: “Jan had eaten at Chez Jeannot several times, but this was a first for me. Right from the start, I knew why she had raved about it: A warm welcome at the door, a clean and sophisticated decor, and professional service.”
And just a bit more from last June: “I wish more restaurants could be like this: Specializing in one type of food and doing it very well. Having well-qualified, friendly and professional staff … And sporting a smart, well-lighted décor.”
And now back to yesterday’s lunch, outdoors. Jan and I were greeted warmly at the door, and given our choice of tables, while we waited for Richard and Rosemary to park the car. From the start, our server was upbeat, friendly and professional. We chose a table, and ordered some pre-lunch drinks. Here’s a view of our table setting, with a look along the sidewalk:
The weather wasn’t perfect by any means. It was a bit breezy, the temperature was cool, and later on in the lunch there were some sprinkles of rain. But it was great to be outside, sitting at a restaurant, and trying to choose our dishes from the huge array of fresh seafood on offer.
In the end, Richard chose a grilled white fish; Jan and Rosemary had the grilled gambas, or large shrimp; and at Jan’s suggestion, I chose the seafood risotto. Jan had ordered the risotto previously, and said it was delicious — but when my plate arrived, she was as surprised as I was. Jan said it was quite different from the dish she was served; as for me, I had expected a bowl of risotto with pieces of seafood mixed in. Instead, this is what I received:
What an abundance! Grilled gambas, grilled octopus and squid, mussels, clams and — yes, somewhere below all the seafood — a small but delicious serving of a reasonably authentic risotto. It was quite wonderful, helped along by our bottle of Sancerre.
At the end of our lunch, I was the only one to choose dessert, while Jan and Rosemary opted for an extra glass of white wine. As you can imagine, I loved the dessert, which looked like this:
In the centre was a moist chocolate cake with a melted chocolate centre, and around it were a scoop of ice cream, a large portion of whipped cream, and — as one of the day’s five servings of fruit and vegetables — a raspberry.
As I told a friend in Daglan this morning, if the restaurant were an hour’s drive closer, rather than the rather tedious two-hour drive to Toulouse, Jan and I would probably eat at Chez Jeannot once a week.