Sunday 4 August 2013

Le Blanc Nez, Sangatte, France

This is one of my favourite restaurants of all time; somewhere I have visited frequently, somewhere I like to introduce to friends. Le Blanc Nez is in a village called Sangatte, in northern France, about ten minutes’ drive from the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais. I have visited a few times as a nice break to the journey when returning from the south of France on holiday, but mostly as day trip. Last weekend I went over with some friends for a few hours on Saturday night, for a ‘booze cruise’ and for dinner at a favourite eatery.

First and foremost, this is a seafood restaurant, with some of the best fresh fish and shellfish you will find. But there is plenty to offer those who are not big seafood fans; I have had excellent beef bougignon and confit duck at this restaurant over the years.

This also a very English-friendly restaurant, the menu includes English translations if your French isn’t what it could be; I reckon that half the patrons are English people who have hopped across for the day for lunch and a bit of shopping.

 I nearly always have the pate to start with at Le Blanc Nez because it is SO good. La terrine maison is one of those dishes that can be relied upon 100% of the time. The pate is flavoursome and smooth, as good as any I have ever eaten. Served with a fantastic, fresh, red onion relish and accompanied by a fresh salad, some excellent beetroot and some spicy little cornichons. An amazing SUPER-DISH.

For main course I had l’assiette de fruits de mer, which is one of the most frequent dish-in-restaurant combinations I have every ordered, not least because it comes in its own little boat. Yes, a boat, served on a bed of seaweed! There are seven different elements to this dish… oysters, langoustines, prawns, shrimp, winkles, whelks and a whole crab. The offer is seasonal and changes throughout the year, often including smoked fish also. This dish costs €28, which is great value when you consider that an equivalent dish in the UK would cost anywhere between £30 and £40. All of the elements of this (second) SUPER-DISH are great, the oysters (my favourite thing in the world) are fresh and served with a red wine vinegar and shallot dressing, the langoustines are big and juicy and the crab is always a meaty little fellah.

So, well worth a day trip just to go to Le Blanc Nez, or why not combine with a visit to the nearby Cite Europe shopping centre and pick up some cheap alcohol from Carrefour? This restaurant never disappoints, especially if you are a seafood lover, the staff are friendly and attentive and the atmosphere is unpretentious and relaxed.

A Stokes family favourite that is very, very highly recommended.

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