1 Rue Château
37190 Saché, France
Tél: 02 47 26 88 77
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
5- Star........................................................€€.....................................................................2 - Bell
A group of 5 of us went to Saché, France in the Loire Valley to go house hunting for a good friend of ours. The Loire valley is an extremely picturesque and beautiful area. It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from Paris.
We arrived about 2 pm and were concerned that we would not find a place to eat lunch; however, we found the Auberge du XIIe siècle in the heart of town. In fact, it was the only restaurant we saw. The town of Saché is about 20 kilometers from “Tours” and the birthplace of "Balzac" , drawing in tourists from all over the world.
It was surprisingly deceptive from the somewhat drab exterior, once we entered the restaurant it was actually quite warm, cozy and pretty. There’s a main dining room in the front, a court yard area in the middle for al fresco dining, and a dining room area by the back garden.
It seemed very formal for a country style restaurant, but not uncomfortable; it was more elegant, from the decor to the beautiful Limoge porcelain plates, the tablecloths and the wonderfully large napkins. We got the menu, and for lunch there was a 58€ tasting menu and a 37€ tasting menu, we all opted for the 37€ tasting menu.
First course we had an amuse bouche, I was expecting a tiny little morsel of something, but instead it was a “quad of amuses bouches” where we had a bacon wrapped shrimp, a smooth scallop soup, a sorbet of carrot, and a poached tomato. It was an excellent, excellent combination of warm, cold, salty, sweet and a little sour. It definitely hit all the senses in our tongue.
Much to our surprise a second amuse bouche came out. It was a foie gras mousse. It was topped with a little carmelization to give it that nice after bite sweetness. Excellent, excellent!
Now onto our entrées: three of us got the “ravioles de foie gras, crème de choux-fleurs, parfum de truffes” (ravioli of foie gras, creamed cauliflower and a scent of truffles). This dish sounds extremely rich, but it was not. The cauliflower gave it body without the heavy richness of pure cream. And, the foie gras was perfectly cooked. And, the little slice of bacon gave it a nice crispy saltiness. This was an excellent well balanced entrée.
One friend got the “grosses crevettes sautées aux poireaux, pomme craquantes, jus au thym citron” (large shrimp sautéed with leeks, apples, juices of lemon thyme). It was not only presented beautifully, but our friend said that it tasted delicious!
Now for our plats: two got the “filets de rouget au beurre d'olives, tomates confites” (red mullet fillets with butter olives, tomato confit). The two who got this dish said it was delicious, nicely balanced and perfectly cooked and the sauce was extremely light.
Two got the “sandre rôti, fricassée de champignons et ralle au lard” (roast zander fish, fricassee of mushrooms and bacon ralle”. One said it was a little weak, but good and the other thought it was delicious.
To be different, I ordered the “côtes de porcelet au caramel d'oranges, légumes glacés à la coriandre” (side of of young pork with caramel oranges, glazed vegetables with coriander). I have to say, this is one of the best pork dishes I have ever had. It was perfectly roasted. How they got the skin so bubbly crispy is beyond me. It’s as if they took the skin off, deep fried until crispy tender, and reattached it. The orange sauce was a great accompaniment. And, with the carrots were little nice surprises of roasted whole garlic that I spread on bread and it was delicious. Everything about this dish was perfect.
We saw a cheese plate cart roaming around, and I felt compelled to order some (the devil made me). There were so many choices that everyone suggested that I just ask for the cheese from the region. Their regional specialty is “chèvre”. I’m actually not that fond of chèvre but got a few and also some I like such as comté. All-in-all it was a great selection of cheeses.
Onto our desserts: Not on the menu, some of us got the “brioche poêle with strawberries and frommage blanc”, the people who got this dish said it was delicious, there was a crunchiness, a little sweet and a little sour from the strawberries, and surprisingly light.
One person got the “biscuit anisette, mousse de mangue, infusion de litchis” (biscuit hazelnut mousse, mango, lychee infusion). Our friend who had this dish said he really enjoyed it. The fruit combination with the mouse was just a great ending to a fabulous meal.
I got the “petites crêpes, beurre de pralin, sorbet chocolat” (pancakes, praline butter, chocolate sorbet). I’m not a big fan of crêpes, because all too often they are too sweet and one dimensional. Well this made me a believer. This has got to be one of the best dessert crêpes I have ever had. It was nice and smooth, not too sweet, and not too creamy, and the crunchiness of the pralines gave it a whole new dimension. Plus the garnish of julienne mint made it quite refreshing. I definitely want some more of this.
And, then when we thought all was said and done, our wait person came out with café gourmandise. Typically, this is served as a dessert choice, a sort of “tasting plate” of various sweets with coffee. I had no idea it was going to be a complimentary ending to our already fabulous desserts. Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have ordered dessert, or maybe not! It was a combo of a blueberry sweet biscuit, a jellied sugar candy, a light crème brulée with a hint of nutmeg, and a fruit sorbet.
After all this food you would’ve thought that we couldn’t move, but surprisingly because the food was not overly filled with butters and creams, and the portions were just right, we all commented that we were full, but didn’t feel full, if that makes any sense.
Summary: We often joke if you want really good food without spending an arm and a leg, get out of Paris. And, this restaurant is one fabulous reason to venture out of Paris. The ambiance, the service, the beautiful Limoges porcelain, the food, everything was just about perfect. I would go back in a heart beat. Thank God, it’s too far for me to get there every day, otherwise I would camp out in their lawn and eat all day every day. The food is excellent, the Chef de Cuisine is Thierry Jimenez, a protégé of Alain Ducasse. We had an opportunity to meet him. He’s very unassuming and so friendly and amicable. I would’ve kissed his ring, if he had one. So, if you are in Tours or that area, this restaurant is NOT to be missed. Go hungry.
|Chef de cuisine extraordinaire, Thierry Jimenez|
For 5 of us with 1-bottle of wine and three glasses of wine and 4-coffees the bill came to 250€ or 50€ each
Note: Auberge du XIIe siècle is also an INN.