If you are the sort of holidaymaker that rushes around from point A to point B or who spends all the time snapping pretty, evocative pictures then the chances are that in walking up to the flashy Auberges and Brasseries further up the street into la Place St-Pierre, Saumur, you will have missed “Le P’tit Resto” in rue de la Tonnelle completely – unless you read this blog of course!
The entrance is quite inconspicuous, there are no tables and parasols outside and no sign of busy waiters and waitresses bustling around serving food with the great “voila” which is a necessary ingredient of French panache. If you stick your head through the door you will find no attempt to create a historical facimile. If you go a bit further you will also see that the menu is restricted and the meat almost entirely composed of cheaper cuts, no Cote de Boeuf here. This is the sort of cooking which our grandmothers, back in the UK, were so adept at preparing particularly in the lean years after the war. Ironically of course it is now the height of foody fashion.
So, why have I put it on this blog and on our restaurant review? Because, simply, “Le P’tit Resto” is a Saumur institution! Generations of office and manual workers have filled this small restaurant for years. (One of the menus is simple called le Menu des Ouvriers, the workers menu), and the reasons for this popularity are simple:- it’s good, honest local food at a very affordable price, cooked and served with a smiling proficiency by the husband and wife team of Claude and Brigitte Frémont. Claude does the cooking in the open kitchen with his grills and ovens for all to see adding to the convivial atmosphere and Brigette bustles around the tables single-handedly with cheerful politeness and efficiency . The ‘Plat de Jour’ price is €7.80 and the set menus start at €9.80 with wine included, no wine list of course, just excellent, honest Saumur rouge, blanc or rosé by the pitcher. Each menu starts with a visit to a groaning buffet table for your entrées followed by the main course, served at the table, afterwards a huge plateau of assorted cheese appears being shared around the tables and then the desserts, an example being Panacotta with a Coulis de Framboise, which is just delicious. There are a few options including steak if you don’t fancy the day’s fixed menus which will feature thing like:- Boudon Noir, Andouillette and Tagine de Agneau. Incidentally, the restaurant is only open at lunchtime, 1130 – 1400.
There will be those, of course, who will bemoan the lack of “theme” and the fact that there is no attempt to serve food which may have more appeal to the tourist hordes which descends on Saumur. These people can be safely ignored because they are really missing the point which is that the restaurant is a fine example of traditional, french, regional cuisine which quietly goes its own way supported by its multitude of devotees. In fact, it is so popular that unless you are there by midday the chances are that you will be asked to go away and come back half an hour later. All these diners can’t be wrong!!
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