The only truly bad thing about Bordeaux was Hotel Alton, the hotel we had booked ourselves into and where we stayed the first night. It was rather far out of center city, accessible only by a bus a bit of a hike from the hotel. It was also down a small side street and took us hours to find it, schlepping all our luggage, when we first arrived from the train station. And there was no air-conditioning. After we checked in, we learned we could cancel the reservation and only stay the first night, so we promptly took a bus into the city, found a charming hotel only a few blocks from the Palais de Justice and then explored until dinnertime.
When it was time for dinner, not only were we hungry, but feeling grungy and a little cranky, if I may say so. We checked out the menus of a few Michelin-recommended restaurants, all of which sounded tasty, but not quite the comfort food we were craving. As we were beginning to get frustrated, we stumbled upon Chez les Ploucs, a noisy, affordable restaurant where the waiters wear blue overalls and the tables have red-and-white checkered tablecloths. There was a noisy party going on in the back room, but a table for two was waiting unoccupied under a giant boar's head in the front, so we sat down and ordered aperitifs.
For an aperitif, I usually order a kir (white wine and creme de cassis), but I'm usually willing to try new drinks if they don't sound too sweet, so I was intrigued by the house specialty, a Plouc. Rather similar to a kir, it was red wine, creme de cassis and armagnac--perfect, especially after such a long day. The Boy ordered a glass of Porto Rouge, but he wished he had ordered a Plouc. We're still trying to work out the proportions to make our own!
Famished, we both opted for a three-course prix fixe. Meat-heavy and only 15 Euros, it was a perfect choice. We both started with a Salade Landaise, a salad with thick pieces of smoked magret de canard, a small pile of frisee and small toast points smeared with foie gras. As neither of us are really salad-eaters, this was an ideal salad for us--twice as much meat as lettuce and the meat was deliciously warm and juicy so it served as dressing for the leaves that clung to it.
Next I ordered the Tranche de gigot d'agneau a la creme d'ail, a thick slice of roasted leg of lamb with a garlic cream. It was served with home-fried potatoes and a non-descript green vegetable. The lamb was tasty and well-cooked, the meat sweet, and the garlic cream a perfect dose of spice. The potatoes were tasty and the vegetable forgettable, but they were the standard sides so we weren't too disapointed.
The Boy had the Cassoulet de grand-mere, a white cannelinni bean stew with sausages and a duck leg. It had been cooked for hours and all the tastes now combined together to form what really did taste like something my French grand-mother would make, if I had one.
For dessert I chose the Pain perdu--toujours pas trouve!, the French version of French toast which is always served as dessert. Pain perdu literally means "Lost Bread" and the joke was that it had "still not been found." I have to admit--it was because of this play on words that I ordered the Pain and I wasn't disappointed. It was served warm, thickly sliced, with raisins.
The Boy's dessert was Tarte aux pommes, an unspectacular but still good apple pie.
Our wine was a bottle of Bordeaux (surprised?) for only 12 Euros, though they also served even cheaper carafes of house wine.
Chez les Ploucs
10, Rue des Faussets