We arrived in the town of Blois, a couple of hours away from Paris, at midday on a hot and sunny August Saturday. I initially wanted to lunch at the Mercure located on the quays of the Loire, but the hotel’s restaurant is now shut for lunch. The friendly receptionist was however kind enough to recommend a restaurant, located about 10 minutes’ walk away on the other bank of the River, facing the old town.
Le bistrot du cuisinier was easy to find and we were quickly sat in a modern looking interior where tables are well spaced apart. We settled for the €19.50 lunch menu, which proved excellent value for money, and all went for the same food, accompanied by a reasonably priced glass of white Chinon 2011.
The meal started with a vegetable gaspacho and salmon cake. The ingredients were fresh and tasty, but the fish cake was maybe a tad dry. Fish followed fish (duck was also an option, but it was to be on our menu that night), with a trout ballotine and creamy girolles risotto. This course was better, with a succulent risotto and well cooked mushrooms (even though I wish the fish had been less cooked) and also went well with the minerally and appetising Chinon. We finished with a verrine of caramel ice cream with salted butter, chocolate mousse and bailey’s cream. These ingredients nicely complemented each other and the dessert was therefore balanced and light. I also noticed that, despite the high heat that day, we did not feel bloated or too thirsty after this meal, which is a sign that fresh ingredients and reasonable seasoning were used.
As a consequence, we were able to discover the many gems of Blois, including the Renaissance castle, the rose garden and the museum of magic.

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