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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brittany in the Rain - Part 2

I'm (still) in Brittany and it's raining.  Well, at least that's the theme, part 2, but now I'm writing from an even rainier Paris.  Does ...it...ever...end?  Yet my memory lingers back to last week, and picking up where I left off in part 1, imagine being shuttled 35k north of Rennes to Parigne to the Chateau du Bois Guy, a tiny berg in the middle of nowhere.  Just key 48 26 20 latitude and 2 47 30 longitude into your GPS and you'll be there in no time, or at least what seems like a quick 18 hours.

The only reason anyone would want to go to Parigne is to visit the hotel/restaurant/conference center Chateau du Bois-Guy.  Upon entry, you will be smothered in champagne and guided to a non-descript room where your party will be subject to a performance of traditional Breton singing and dancing (the good part) and an otherwise forgettable meal (the bad part).  But it's a chateau and you're in France, so why complain?  Below is the main dish, tuna, and it looks a lot tastier in the photo than it turned out to be in real life.

One last stop in Rennes before heading westward to Josselin, a satisfying, leisurely lunch not far from the Place Saint-Anne in the city center, Cafe des Bains.  Two small dining rooms and a bar comprise this cosy Rennes find, with bathrooms fully equipped with showers, reinforcing the 'baths' motif in homage to a famous bathhouse from times of yore in the cafe's environs.

Clicking on the menu to the right, you'll notice a few inexpensive menu options.  Co. and I splurged with the three-course 'trio' (entree, plat, dessert), along with a 1/2 bottle of Syrah red.  We split the sabayon de moules safrane and crostini de chevre a la confiture d'oignons et raisins entrees, both of which adequately did the job without anything spectacular.

For my main plate, I went with the rather pedestrian choice of emince de poulet 'a la plancha,' potato et chutney aux fruits de saison; Co. opted for the piece de boucher 'a la plancha' sauce au riz rouge ecrasee de pomme de terre.  Sorry for the blurry boucher.

For some reason, I didn't bother to photograph the desserts, which is too bad, because Co. is still talking about her craquissimo au caramel de beurre sale (+1€ supplement) - crunchy, smooth, savory, salty, sweet, all those good things you expect from a dessert that hits the spot.  Less to say about my cafe gourmand (+2€).  Total for two 'trio' menus, including the supplements and half pot of wine came to 46.70€.  The verdict is clear: if you are in the center of Rennes and looking for the near-perfect lunch without the gastronomic bells and whistles, then Cafe des Bains is the place.

To finish up the Breton excursion, 24 hours in Josselin, the quaint little town about 50k west of Rennes.  As this is Bretagne, it won't surprise you to learn that what Josselin has going for it is a castle, and the main thing our hotel - Hotel Restaurant du Chateau - had going for it was a view of the castle.

Given the rare one-night closing of our first choice for dinner, La Table d'O (see my previous entry), we weren't left with many choices, so the hotel restaurant was it.  Entering the nearly empty spacious room, we were informed that we couldn't be seated next to the windows looking out to the chateau because the tables were reserved, but no big deal.  (It was a bigger deal for the unassuming breakfast buffet, when the supposedly reserved tables again went unused. What's the deal with that?).  The dinner - the three-course menu of 26.90€ per person - was mediocre and not to be recommended.  I had the impression that the chef wanted to be special, but unfortunately had gone to the wrong restaurant school.  A couple of images below, nothing much to say.

It's not that the meal was bad, it just didn't hit any of the usual cylinders, and when you can't be flexible with a simple seating request, it just adds insult to injury.  Then again, there is that chateau, and there is something to be said about dining by castle light.  Total for dinner: 79.50€, no supplement for the castle.  And with that, dear reader, we bid adieu to rainy Brittany.

Route de Melle F-35133 Parigne
tel: 02 99 97 34 50
website: www.bois-guy.fr

36-38 rue St Georges
35000 Rennes
tel. 02 23 20 35 64
no website

1, rue du General de Gaulle
56120 Josselin
tel: 02 97 22 20 11
website: www.hotel-chateau.com

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