It’s not often that you discover a restaurant that ticks all the boxes, especially when you’re traversing through the French countryside. Just like in most countries the food in France changes as you cross the regional borders. This was most certainly the case yesterday as we drove from Charente into Limousin, the beef and lamb capital of France. Limousin is also known for its picturesque towns and vineyards.
“Bellac is a small town in the Limousin region, it is very pretty and is perched high on a hill overlooking a sweeping valley and enchanting bridge. From the town center you can take in the photo worthy views and listen to the water rushing around the tiny bends in the river below.”
We have visited Bellac a few times over the last 5 years. I remember buying the most delicious potato flan from Bellac’s local Charcuterie last year. It was so simply prepared yet so tasty. A perfect balance of flavours. I posted about it on my Facebook page last year.
Often with French food non French people forget its origins and the methods behind creating a single part of a dish. When you see on a plate a chicken fillet with a silky white sauce it may not be visually appealing to foreign eyes, but the work in preparing and cooking the dish must be appreciated. When I’m eating French food I seek to taste every ingredient that has created the subtle and delicate dish. For example in most classic French sauces you can taste almost every ingredient right down to which liquor was used to deglaze the pan, and just by looking at the dish you can tell which cooking method has been used, sautéd, shallow fried, braised etc. It’s the method and preparation that makes great French food.
Back to Bellac, we stopped by a local Brocante (market store) yesterday when I spotted some French clay terrine dishes. I posted these on my Instagram account and mentioned about them being used perhaps for a Lasagna. We have some people coming for lunch at our home in Abzac next week so I might give it a try. I will let you know how I go. The dishes are quite large and only just fit in our tiny oven which will be challenging for a terrine.
After buying the clay terrine dishes we wandered around the town center. All of the shops were now closed for lunch so we walked around browsing the menus of the locals restaurants.
I usually look for 3 things when choosing a lunch venue.
- An inviting menu
- Friendly faces
Walking past Bellac’s Creperie Du Vincou we could hear laughter and the sounds of cutlery and plates clanging together. It was an infectious sound, one that made you want to be part of the fun. It was very busy inside and the staff were delivering orders to tables with French precision. The name of the restaurant would make you think crepes were the speciality of the house, however crepes are only one element of this great French restaurant.
As we walked in the door of Creperie Du Vincou we were greeted by one of the best welcomes I’ve ever had visiting a restaurant in France. Chef Eric’s big smile sealed the deal and we were seated ready for lunch.
The menu provided options of a la carte and the usual Formules of 1, 2 or 3 courses. After ordering our boissons (beverages) we then ordered our 3 courses. There were a couple of house specials we enquired about, the Crudités Maison and Quiche Maison. The house quiche was ‘Chestnut’ which I ordered for my Entrée. I had not tried a chestnut quiche before but I can say I certainly will again, it was magnificent. Andrew ordered the Salade du jour, Escalope Volaille a la creme (option of either chicken or turkey escalopes) and the Ile Flottante (a soft and delicious meringue floating on a coffee flavoured sauce) for dessert. I ordered the Quiche Maison, Brochette de Boeuf (Beef Skewer) and the Cafe Gourmand. I love the Cafe Gourmand as you not only get a great coffee, you also get to sample the entire dessert menu in small bite size portions. At Creperie Du Vincou yesterday they also included a melt in your mouth pistachio macaroon.
“The Quiche Maison was unlike anything I have tasted before. It’s texture was perfection and the egg mixture blended in seamlessly in with the chestnuts. The flavour of the egg was faultless, I could taste some hints of nutmeg also. The pasty was home made from the heart. It was simply presented with lettuce garnish and dressing allowing the quiche to take centre stage.”
The Brochette de Boeuf was served medium rare and with the best Bernaise sauce I’ve ever tasted in France. The Boeuf was from Limousin and was cooked to perfection. As I applied the Bernaise sauce to the boeuf it coated each piece like the two ingredients were made for each other. The tarragon in the sauce had that bite to it that you only get from produce grown in European soil. I find the herbs in France to be much stronger in taste which means you usually use less.
Finally the Cafe Gourmand. A stunning selection of desserts that made you feel like you were sitting in a French country home enjoying tastes that could only come from recipes handed down for generations.
Creperie Du Vincou is clearly a local favourite and is now a local favourite for us. I got the feeling that for most patrons this was not their first time visiting chef Eric. There was also a great sense and feeling of family.
Creperie Du Vincou is a very happy place with great French food cooked from the heart, and chef Eric’s infectious smile is one that makes you feel right at home. A great restaurant should make you feel good about yourself and leaving Creperie Du Vincou yesterday we felt great!