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Jan 17, 2009 09:02 AM

Boulogne/Calais - looking for lunch

Looking for a nice leisurely lunch before catching a late afternoon ferry.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Almost a year has passed with no mention of Calais on the board. Something like 2 milion people a year pass through the port - am I the only one who reads Chowhound?

    Another trip is now planned and I'm still looking for a leisurely lunch nearish to the ferry.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      A little late, but:
      If you have a car, drive down to Etaples and try "Aux pecheurs d'Etaples". It is in the centre of the harbour. The local fishermen bring their catches in to sell at the cooperative fish market, and over the market is the restaurant. Straight from the boat onto your plate. It is about 45 minutes max away from the ferry.
      If you want to stay in Calais I'd recommend Histoire Ancienne for a bistro, or Channel for seafood. Both 5 mins from the ferrry terminal.

      1. re: David Borkin

        I have some photography to undertake at Etaples on a future trip - sounds like a good lunch spot.

        Le Chanel was recommended on another board - I'll swap you that for Aquaraile, which was really good.

    2. Our passing through Etaples last week didnt co-incide with lunch so we'll keep "Aux Pecheurs" on the back burner for another time. We did decide to stop another overnight in Calais. Dinner then not lunch:

      Situated right on “the front” , next to the port, Au Cote d’Argent offers a perfectly pleasant and acceptable €42 menu. It’s pleasant and acceptable both in its quality and its value for money. Place was packed on the Friday night and I reckon we were probably the only foreigners.

      Three scallops, and their roe, were bang-on for cooking. Good crust, still just opaque in the middle. A simple fishy creamy sauce added rather than detracted from the inherent sweetness. A little scattering of caviar and some almost raw shreds of leek offered contrasting taste and texture.

      I followed this with a generous fillet of turbot – again simply prepared with a little sauce. It sat on the second appearance of leeks – this time long cooked and meltingly soft and sweet. Some asparagus, broccoli, potato and a rather incongruous cherry tomato accompanied.

      Meanwhile, my partner had gone for a half lobster, served with a very ballsy shellfish and Pernod sauce. It came with a small dollop of mashed potato which was declared to have worked well in mopping up the sauce (a bit of surprise there – as the companion in life usually despises mashed spud). There was also some leeks. Of course there was.

      This was followed by sole fillets, wrapped around a crayfish mousse, and the same vegetables as my dish. The mousse, although very flavoursome, was quite dense and made the whole plate seem a bit heavy and unbalanced.

      There was then a cheese course. A chariot of a dozen offerings, including several from the region, notably a Wissant and a Maroilles.

      A good range of desserts was offered from the trolley and we selected Iles Flottant and a particularly good chocolate tart – crisp pastry, rich filling.

      And then it was back to the hotel for an all to short sleep before an early ferry.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        Heading to France this weekend for a night and were looking at staying in either Etaples or Boulogne. Is Aux Pecheurs the best rec around the area? We are happy to drive (but not too far!). Ideally we would go to La Grenouillere but I don't like our chances of getting in at such late notice.

        1. re: pj26

          Aux Pecheurs will be the best recc for Etaples, I'm sure. They also have a place at Boulogne but I'm sure I've seen reports that it's not as good as the original.

          In Boulogne itself, you might want to think about the 1* Matelote. Menu looks cracking if a tad overpriced and that's always put me off.

          Calais offers some decent choices. Whilst Cote d'Argent was none too shabby, I prefer Aquaraile. Not least for it's view - it's on top of a small block of flats looking straight out over the Channel.

          1. re: Harters

            Thanks Harters. Think we might do Aux Pecheurs for lunch or maybe some oysters at the bar, they seem to have a brasserie in Boulogne, where are now staying.

            Was just about to post about Matelote to see if anyone knew much about it - looks pretty good!

            1. re: pj26

              So we ended up at La Matelote for dinner, which was unfortunately rather disappointing. We had high hopes, being a one starred place, yet it was pretty underwhelming.

              We went for the degustation tasting menu (at 75 Euro a head) and while I think the food was technically good, it just lacked a certain 'something' in that the flavours sometimes just weren't very nice, or didn't go together very well.

              One of the courses was foie gras, which was delicious but served with a jelly that had absolutely no flavour and a pile of dressed coriander, including stalk, which just tasted odd with the richness of the foie. It came with red mullet which was also tasteless and added nothing to the dish.

              The meat dish of pigeon was (excuse the cliche) a game of two halves, the pigeon just so tender and delicious, but it came with a huge sweetcorn omelette type thing which was so overpowering in its sweetness and claggy. I could only eat a forkful which is very unlike me.

              Service was the main thing that let it down - both of our wine glasses were chipped (unacceptable at this level) and we have to keep nagging our sommelier to fill our wines. When our pigeon dish arrived, we both had empty glasses, and sat there for a few minutes politely waiting for the glasses to be filled. After he walked past a few times ignoring us, we had to physically get up and request more wine, which really isn't good at all.

              The cheeses were very good - and we both agreed the best course, which sadly doesn't say much for the rest of the food! Overall, it just seemed a bit dated and not up to scratch or the level you would expect. Next time I am doing Aux Pecheurs!

              1. re: pj26

                Oh, that's beyond poor for a place of that status. Bearing in mind they will never know when a Michelin inspector is eating there, surely they cannot expect to hold the star with service like that? That said, I've read that Michelin don't take service into account at 1* level, it's only the food - but even that seems iffy.

                1. re: Harters

                  I've read the same about the 1* service, but even without the star it's not good, particularly for the price we paid.

      2. Seeing as Etaples has been mentioned, I wonder if anyone has tried the 1* Le Pavillon at nearby Le Touquet. I'm curious as I'm hoping to stay there for a day or so, after our next visit to the Somme region (and Ieper). I was a bit intrigued to read the chef is British.