Sunday, 2 October 2016

Finally a reason to visit Montceau-les-Mines

The sign says it all - La Douce Heure Antillaise
I have been very rude about Montceau in a number of blogs, basically because it is a bit of a dump. No more or less so than any other industrial town which has lost its industry and is trying to redefine itself, but Montceau seems to think it is above the rest of them, which is why I think I have a bit of a downer on the place. We have visited the town a number of times now and to be honest I have found nothing of any interest there, apart from the occasional event in the theatre - we once saw a fantastic Chinese opera. Don’t get me wrong it is not a “bad” place, it is just not got anything good going for it – or so I thought.

I am going to back track now to May when we went to an Antillean mass in Cormatin church see here for the reason why - it is too long a story to tell again. The person behind the Antillean week is Christiane Mathos and we discovered (OK Cees discovered) that she runs a restaurant in Montceau, La Douce Heure Antillaise. We have been meaning to visit the restaurant a number of times and finally looked up the website. Lunch is by reservation only, so we tried to make a reservation. To cut a long story short, we finally went last Thursday.

A touch of the tropics in Montceau
The interior of the restaurant gave a clean, simple and “Caribbean” impression and the menu looked interesting. Starters were a problem for me as everything except the black pudding was fish, fortunately I love black pudding so the choice was simple. The main course proved to be more difficult as there were a number of things that sounded as though they were worth a try, I plumped for Chicken in coconut milk. Cees chose the Antillean starter mix and he went for the only item on the menu which had a chilli-heat warning - Civet de Chatou (pieuvre). Not knowing what either chatou or pieuvre were, I asked and the owner said it was like calamares – octopus! Yum. When Cees said he wanted it really hot the owner said ah ha you want “rougail” which was obviously the Antillean word for “super hot”. So the octopus was ordered and a new word had been learned.

The starters were a great success and then my chicken arrived and Cees’ king prawns??? I thought it was supposed to be octopus – ah well, lost in translation again. I half expected someone else in the restaurant to say “hey you have my food” but no one did, so Cees ate the king prawns which were very nice, but not very hot, fortunately the owner had given him a pot of scotch-bonnet sauce, very tasty and very hot and that livened it up.

Simple, colourful and waiting for the lunchtime guests
So our verdict, firstly take a dictionary with you and read the menu properly. Rougail is a type of spicy sauce and in this restaurant it is served with king prawns, Civet de Chatou is octopus in a spicy oniony sauce, which Cees will definitely be trying if we go again. It is still not clear to us how he ended up with the king prawns, but he did like them so it wasn’t the end of the world. My chicken was good enough to want to return and try out the other offerings on the menu. The meal was not cheap but also not super expensive, however price-wise it isn’t a place to eat at every day, which is just as well as the owner is the waitress and chef, so don’t expect to get out quickly, having said that, the music and general ambiance were chilled out enough to let you sit there and not worry about the passing time.

We’ll definitely be going back; my only worry is that the owner has just celebrated 30 years of running the restaurant and who knows how much longer she will keep going – why didn’t we find this place when we first came here? We could have had years of culinary enjoyment.

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