Friday, June 10, 2005

Mont Saint-Michel: La Mere Poulard

Our first stop in our travels was Trouville-Deauville, which was truly wonderful. Charming towns (we preferred Trouville), beautiful beaches (Deauville won)--what could be bad? We ate well (La Regence in Trouville was so delicious I forgot to take notes), drank well, and managed to not lose all our money at the Casino. Actually, we didn’t even gamble; they charged an 11€ entry fee--a bit too steep for our budgets, especially since that didn’t even include any chips!

Then we were off to Mont Saint-Michel for one night. The abbey and quaint town are even more amazing then they appear in photos. We stayed on the island, which was the best way to do it. That way, we were able to wander the streets after most of the tourists had left and the cheap souvenir shops had closed. Unfortunately we were eating dinner during sunset, but we did sit near the window, so we saw a few wisps of pink here and there in the sky.

Because we were only in Mont Saint-Michel for one night, we decided to splurge. We were staying in the Hotel La Mere Poulard, which houses the most famous restaurant on the island--La Mere Poulard. I came here five years ago with my parents and then-boyfriend, but I didn’t remember the food very well.

La Mere Poulard is famous for two dishes--omelets and pre-sale lamb. The omelets are cooked in a giant chimney and the eggs beaten by waiters at the entrance to the restaurant—a great way to attract diners. Pre-sale lamb (literally pre-salted) are lambs that feed on salt marshes. They end up quite tender and very lightly salted.

On our visit to La Mere Poulard, we both opted for the Menu Normand, a 55€ three-course prix fixe. But before commencing our meal, they brought over an amuse-bouche of tomato-ginger soup with herb cream on top. It was served in a shot glass with no spoon and was truly fantastic--perhaps my favorite part of the meal!

For my appetizer, I ordered L'omelette Mere Poulard au foie gras de Normandie. Rather than stuff the omelet with foie gras, they make a plain omelet and lay it on a bed of foie gras and mushrooms. It was good but quite rich and certainly not the best omelet I've ever had. Also, the egg and mushrooms were warm and the foie gras cold, which just made it rather jolting.

The Boy's starter, Soupe terre-mer en marmite lutee aux herbes fraiches, was much better. Though not exceptional, it came in a soup terrine with a flaky crust on top that you had to break with a spoon. The terre (earth) was made up of turnips and other root vegetables, shaped with a melon-baller. The mer (sea) were non-descript chunks of fish. In hindsight, he wished he'd gotten one of the omelets.

Being meat-eaters, for our main course we both ordered the Duo d'agneau de pre-sale du Mont Saint Michel. This lamb may have been the best I’ve ever had--and lamb's my favorite kind of meat! The first part of the duo was a potato gratin with a piece of lamb reminiscent of a confit. The potatoes were bland and the lamb strongly flavored. It could have balanced each other out quite nicely, but instead the lamb over-powered the potatoes. The second lamb was my favorite: strips of rare meat covered with herbs and very lightly grilled--divine.

For dessert, I opted for the Pom'Pom'Pom d'hier et d'aujourd'hui. This was an assortment of apple desserts: the best green apple sorbet I've ever had, with specks of green apple in the sorbet and an apple chip stuck into the top; a miniature tarte tatin, full of chunks of caramelized apples (my favorite); a Calvados-flavored cream (too rich); and a few raspberries and currants.

The Boy ordered the mammoth Assortiment de gourmandises d'Annette. It comprised apple and chocolate sweets: the same tarte tatin as me; cassis sorbet, also with an apple chip on top; chocolate pudding with two white-chocolate covered espresso beans on top; some kind of sponge cake soaked in calvados (like a baba rhum); two miniature chocolate muffins; and the same raspberries and currants. While I didn’t taste all of his, I was happy with my choice.

We also received a free dish of madeleines (plain and with raspberry filling) and miniature chocolate chip cookies. Nothing spectacular, we had already eaten too much to finish them.

All in all, this was a great dining experience but the food didn’t quite meet our (admittedly high) expectations.

La Mere Poulard
Grande Rue
Mont Saint Michel


Mijo said...

What a good trip !
We have friends who live in Trouville. You're right, Trouville is more beautiful than Deauville.
I like very much the Norman houses.

It has been more than 10 years since I went on the Mont-St Michel and to the Mère Poulard. I don't remember that there was also a hotel the Mère Poulard.

Jeanne said...

Mont St Michel is one of the places I desperately want to go back to. I was there 22 years ago with my parents on my first trip to Europe. I remember Mere Poulard and the eggs being beaten by hand in big copper dishes in view of passing potential customers. And I remember the omelette being fatter and fluffier than any that I have ever been able do conjure up. But as for the taste? No recollection at all!! :-( Thanks for sharing your travel experiences and reminding me of a lovely trip!

Lady Amalthea said...

Mijo--there is a very tiny hotel on top of the restaurant.

Jeanne--I don't know what the secret at La Mere Poulard is, but I have heard of adding a little pancake batter to omelettes to make them fluffier...

James Murphy said...

Actually, "pré salé" doesn't refer to "pre salted" at all. A "pré" is a salt marsh where lambs might graze, and whence the meat acquires a characteristic flavor due to the high iodine and salt content of the grasses near the sea. As an adjective, salé means salted or salty, but "agneau pré-salé" means 'salt meadow sheep". It is nonetheless delicious!

Anonymous said...

It has bee since 1963 that I visited La Mere Poulard with my parents whenwe lived in Orleans. 10years lated I was traveling throughout Europe on business but never had an opportunity to return, t'ant pis!
I hope to return to Mont St Michel and La Mere before they trow dirt onme.
I stil can hear the wisps beating hte eggs and tasste the wonderful ommelete. My Mom bought a souvenir copper long handles skillet that still hands in my kitchen, viva Mont Ste Michel est La Mere Poulard!