Snails at La Pierre ChaudeMy second review of a series of three restaurants in the French town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, is about my name sake, La Pierre Chaude. This was visited after wondering up and down the street which was home to all the restaurants and creating a short list from those that appealed on first impression and taking the highest rated on TripAdvisor. This tactic served us well, however, La Pierre Chaude was still barely top quartile overall for the town, which, given our experience was surprising.

Service and Decor at La Pierre Chaude

The interior is solidly traditional bistro, with paper table covers, relatively closely packed tables with traditionally Gaellic service. In other words, the service was perhaps on the slow and traditionally erring on the gruff side, but competent. Importantly, some nibbles arrive with the drinks order. I know this is a hobby horse of mine, but it is so important. I wish proprietors in the UK would wake up to this cheap and simple element to the experience that adds so much.

Speaking of which, they have a Sancerre red on the wine list…. albeit at €34. This is by far and away one of my favourite wines and I am glad to see it is so readily available over the channel. It very much falls into the category of “the French aren’t silly enough to export it”.

Food at La Pierre Chaude

There’s a range  of set menus in addition to an a la carte affair that offer something from everyone. La Pierre Chaude also clearly knows that it is in a major fishing port and far from neglects the fact from its menus. We opted for a €22 affair, primarily because I had eyed the Escargot. I have to say that La Pierre Chaude really know what they are doing with snails. The garlic and herb butter was densely packed with garlic and herbs and the snails were sublime – not at all chewy; essentially perfectly cooked. I know many people have had bad experiences with this delicacy, but if you find yourself at La Pierre Chaude, trust me and try them. My companion opted for charcuterie, which was a platter of smoked sausage and either homemade or local artisan pate, both of which were excellent. This was accompanied by a well dressed salad to feed the 5,000.

We both opted for entrecote steak for the main course, and both with a pepper sauce. La Pierre Chaude, like most French establishments, do not hold back on the sauce. My only criticism is that I would’ve preferred it served on the side as opposed to slathered on the cooked steak. I say this for two reasons. Firstly, I like to see the chargrilling, and secondly, even though it is probably just psychological, I think having the sauce linger on it dilutes that wonderful chargrill flavour.

The meat itself was resoundingly satisfactory – rib eye always needs some work to pry the meat from the fat and sinew (something else the sauce doesn’t help) and it was tasty enough, but I wouldn’t hold it up as a shining example from the local butcher. That leaves the chips, which were clearly home made in a chipping machine with a warped element that made them into long “V” shaped affairs. The shape aside, they were excellently cooked and would hold their heads proud even in Brussels or Amsterdam, the frite capitals of the world.

Dessert for companion was a creme caramel that was witnessed being removed from a terracotta pot in the kitchen before serving, which means homemade – something that came through in the taste. For me, I had La Pierre Chaude’s selection of three local cheeses which were well matched to each other.

The Essentials
Restaurant NameLa Pierre Chaude
VistedSeptember 2014
Price Range€35 a head (Sunday Lunch with good wine), circa £30 ea
Phone+33 3 21 80 30 32
Address19 Rue de Lille, 62200 Boulogne-sur-Mer, France/" target="_blank">30 Rue de Lille, 62200 Boulogne Sur Mer , France
La Pierre Chaude
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