We had a lovely Sunday lunch blow out at C’heu l’Zib, which is a real and wonderful institution in Menetou-Salon.
It is rather like being present at a large family lunch – simple, unfussy good food prepared by Marie-Claude Fontaine.Nothing fancy but just delicious and a style of restaurant that seems to be difficult to find in France. Choosing the menu is not complicated – it just depends on how hungry or greedy you are. For 30€ (découverte) you get an entrée, a choice of fish or meat, cheese and dessert. At 39€ (dégustation) you have both the fish and the meat. Finally at 44€ you get two entrées then as the menu degustation. As the portions are very generous going for two entrées would, I think, indicate, a certain level of greed.
On Sunday there were four entrées: a selection of two different home made patés – rabbit and sanglier accompanied by a large glass jar of cornichons, terrine of foie gras marbled with mushrooms, smoked salmon or filet of hareng pommes à l’huile. The fish is invariably the rich brochet à la crème, one of the restaurant’s specialities – at least it has always been on when I have been there.
For main course there was lovely juicy, pink slices of gigot d’agneau, jarret de porc, poulet au vermouth in a rich tomato sauce and a veal dish but I forget the details.
The cheese selection included a perfect full sized Brie de Meaux that was just perfect and sinfully delicious.
Carrying on with the thread of sinfulness dessert always includes the stunningly rich charlotte au chocolate (the other great speciality) plus an assortment of prepared and cooked fruit. You help yourself to the fruit plus the big bowl of crème anglaise. Who really needs to go for the two entrées when you have all of that to eat?!
The wine list has plenty of choice as long as you like Menetou-Salon in its three colours. Most of the growers are represented. For simplicity’s sake you can just indicate whether you want red, white or rosé and a bottle will be brought to you. It could be any producer – I imagine it’s the first one that comes to hand.
Alternatively you can choose from the list, although the 2006 Les Cris from Henry Pellé turned out to be 2010. In many restaurants I would have pointed this out but here it didn’t seem that important and anyway the 2010 turned out to be delicious and amazingly worked well with the dishes we had including the rich brochet à la crème, with which it was a very good match.
There used to be a place like L’Zib in Saint-Georges-sur-Cher called La Bonne Ambiance with the same generous portions – perhaps even more so. If you had the terrine maison a large bowl would be placed on the table and Annie, the boss of the establishment, would chide you if you hadn’t taken enough!
We once met a family who were staying there on full pension – a form of human gavage!
If you want to enjoy Sunday lunch there you have to book. You should have seen the disappointment on the faces of a group, who had to be turned away as L’Zib was full and they had no booking!