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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Relais de Guermantes: Proust Country the Geurmantes Way

If you remember your Proust, you no doubt recall that the Geurmantes name figures prominently in the author's epic Remembrance of Things Past.  Not far from the Geurmantes manor you'll find a cozy country inn that itself looks like something that sprung out of a historic French novel, and the setting for mine and Co's choice on the 'at least one restaurant out in the country per summer' circuit.  This being late August, we didn't have much time left to choose, and our preference, La Mere Au Diable turned out to be closed for vacation for another week.  The devil is in the details, so to Le Relais de Guermantes we gamboled. 

Le Relais was definitely open, with each table in the smallish secluded courtyard eventually taken, and some tables in the quaint restaurant interior also filled.  You couldn't ask for a more idyllic late summer, early evening setting, even with the occasional mosquito dropping by for a chat.  Unfortunately, the setting trumped the food, which ranged from pretty good (my croustillantes de gambas served with a puree of avocado and a pepper chutney) to pretty bland (Co's lamb, a replacement for the gigot on the carte which was unavailable).  If you check out the carte below (click to enlarge), you'll observe that Co. opted for the 34.50€ Maxine menu and I went upscale with the 44€ offering.  Washed down with a reasonably priced Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil (28€), which arrived at the table from a rather frigid cave.

And here's what the food looked like:

Alas, the closest we got to a madeleine were the little cakes that made up part of my dessert, the illustrious Cafe Gourmand, which was better than this usually turns out, and accompanied by a nifty wooden box containing various sugars, pistachio nuts, and chocolate pieces filled with marshmallow.  However pleasant the meal turned out to be, it fell way short of Proust's famous madeleine moment from the Remembrance books:

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin.

Place de l'Eglise
77600 Guermantes
tel: 01 64 30 13 03
website: http://www.relais-de-guermantes.com/

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