The following is taken from a post I wrote in 2010: “La Récréation is a marvellous little restaurant in the tiny village of Les Arques, about 40 minutes south of Daglan. Its fame has grown because of a book called From Here, You Can’t See Paris by the American writer Michael Sanders.”
I went on to say: “The restaurant’s name means ‘recess,’ referring to our favourite period in school, when we ran around the school yard like maniacs. The name was chosen because the restaurant itself is in a converted school house…”
This is my way of re-introducing the restaurant, which we visited for lunch again on Sunday with friends Sarah and Karl. First, here’s a look at the front of La Récré, looking through the tree branches and vines that are still awaiting the first leaves of spring:
The tables in the restaurant are all set in a large, single room that previously held school children in classes. The decoration is simple, but attractive, and even retains some of the features of the old school days, like books and crayons. When Jan and I arrived, just a touch before 12:30, there was only one other person in the room; not long after that, every seat was taken. Here’s the view from our table:
Jan and I have eaten at La Récré many times, but our last visit was way back in 2018 — before the pandemic hit. The food is really good, and in fact on this most recent visit it seems to have become a notch better.
One of the classics of the place — which has been on the menu literally for years — are lobster-filled ravioli in an incredibly rich sauce made with the lobster eggs, which the French call corail de homard. I didn’t hesitate for a second to order this as my entrée, since the dish may be in my list of top-10 all-time dishes of any kind. Here’s my colourful serving:
For my main course, I chose the wild cod, served up with a variety of vegetables. Little did I expect such a clever concoction: the cod cut into quite small rounds, and then surrounded with greens that were either young cabbage leaves or tender brussel sprout leaves; on the top were several pieces of samphire, a type of succulent plant that grows near bodies of water; and on either side of the fish rounds were swoops of cauliflower purée. Here’s my serving (which, by the way, was just the right size for me):
Dessert was a classic — a chocolate fondant cake, made so that the melted chocolate runs out when you cut into the cake. No complaints from me:
Would we return? Yes, we would. All four of us agreed that the food and service were excellent. The only drawback was the noise — with a full house, the single room meant that all the chatter from all the tables became just a bit of a dull roar. On top of that, a table of women and young girls, with two small dogs, sat down just behind me — although several of them did take the trouble to knock into me, and the girls often had to chase down the dogs to keep them from bothering other diners. Ah well — these things happen.