Thursday, 10 May 2012

Restaurant Review: La Ferté, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (France)


The Boy and I spent a lovely weekend in France with Ma and Pa to celebrate our 30th birthdays and were lucky enough to be treated to a fabulous celebratory dinner at new restaurant, La Ferté, in the beautiful little village of St-Valery-sur-Somme. The charming holiday spot on the Picardie coast sits at the mouth of the river Somme, with impressive views across the Baie de Somme that change with the rapid tides, and plenty of Medieval character and friendly little shops and eateries to explore.

La Ferté's sister restaurant, Le Nicol's, is an established, traditional French restaurant just across the road, which is popular with locals and tourists alike - Ma and Pa being two of them. La Ferté brings a welcome, modern twist to the good quality food and drink being served, whilst retaining the impeccable service and simple, French fare on offer at both restaurants. The chic interior, styled in black and lime green with minimalist artwork, and the clean, angular lines of the bar and central pillar felt a little imposing and cramped when we first arrived and squeezed between the tables to seek out our reservation. The hushed atmosphere and over-polite waiters gave the evening a sophisticated air - perfect for a special celebration - but we soon settled in and chatted to the waiters about the menu; the peace and quiet punctuated by laughs and conversation from the other tables as the restaurant filled up. 

As we sipped our aperitifs, Pastis for the boys and Kir vin blanc avec cassis for the girls, we sampled a delicious platter of amuse bouches with piped creme fraiche and herbs cutting through tart pickled herring and gherkins. Then the real fun began. The restaurant's menus feature two fantastic set menus, ranging from 19 to 24 euros for three courses, with plenty of choice and the option to pick courses from the other menu if it suits. I did just this, selecting a huge plate of fresh beef carpaccio from the menu traditionnel followed by a simple pot-au-feu de poisson - the best fish stew I have ever eaten in France - from the menu baie de Somme.

The generous serving of beef carpaccio was finely sliced and so succulent it melted in the mouth. To follow, the salty, fragrant pot-au-feu was the ideal dish to complement the rich flavours of the beef, with it's fresh, firm white fish (ray and another white fish that we couldn't translate but think it was sandre or similar) and simplistic broth-style sauce and sweet parsnips. 

Fortunately the light and moreish main course enabled me to save room to feed my obsession for French desserts. I opted for the Mille Feuille and definitely did not regret my choice when a huge yet delicate pastry creation arrived, filled with delicious Chantilly cream and drizzled with honey. It was a divine conclusion to a fabulous foodie experience and we all wandered home feeling well looked after and very well fed.

If you're ever in the area, I can highly recommend a visit to La Ferté for a simple lunch or dinner made with fresh, local produce and traditional French menus. In the evening, make sure you book for one of the two sittings, at seven thirty or nine o'clock, and don't be afraid to ask the attentive waiters about the menu - we loved that the staff knew the menu inside out and could explain in great detail (and in fantastic English!) what we could expect from the different dishes.With well-priced and good quality wines complementing the menus perfectly, La Ferté provides the ideal spot for no-frills French dining.

Bon Appetit! :-)

La Ferté
15 rue de la Ferte
80230 Saint-Valery-sur-Somme