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Le Cond'or. (the restaurant from hell)
Le Cond'or or was it Le Con D’or

It was a Monday evening deep in the heart of the Vendée, We, that’s my pal Trevor and I were trying, not for the first time, to visit a well known Auberge in Bazoges-en-Pareds. The problem was that even though it was right in the middle of the holiday season the Auberge was closed. Why you may well ask? It was apparently closed for the proprietor’s annual three week holiday, unthinkable in the UK, but par for the course here.

Now we had a problem. In rural France people tend to eat their main meal at lunchtime, and a lot of restaurants close on Mondays so from the moment we pulled up outside the Auberge and realised it was closed we were swimming uphill. We tried a few other restaurants that we knew in the area but they were all closed too. The light was fading fast and we found ourselves on the D148, not really restaurant country. We were without a clue as to where we might get a meal and Trevor had a strange glint in his eyes. As we approached Saint-Etienne-de-Brillouet with lines from Hotel California echoing in my head we saw someone wandering around in the middle of the road. It must have been a sophisticated marketing ploy because it was then that we saw the sign for Restaurant Le Condor. We were saved, or were we?

We parked the car and discovered that the wandering man was in fact the waiter/proprietor of the restaurant. At first glance in the fading twilight I’d thought he was wearing a really cool T shirt with some avant-garde artwork motif on it, but when we entered the dining room and the light improved, I realised the truth. The T shirt, which I’m sure had once been white, looked as though it was the same one that he had been wearing while working on his car earlier in the evening and possibly for many days or even weeks before that. All that was lacking was the cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. So our trepidation grew.

The dining room was populated with plastic tables and chairs which were predictably empty, but surprisingly the tablecloths and tableware were clean and well set. We sat down and ordered from a reasonable menu, I must have been suffering from some form of starvation madness because I ordered squid as a starter followed by entrecôte and frites. The waiter brought us a beer and then left. We thought he was going to the kitchen to start cooking but he actually left the building altogether. We watched him cross the road and then return some while later with an elderly lady who we assumed must have been his mother. It transpired that, whoever she was, she was the chef, which considering the state of the waiter’s T shirt was probably just as well. In truth the squid was like eating rubber bands, but then what did I expect it was hardly going to be fresh was it? The entrecote was good and was well cooked, the cheese board was lacking anything remotely interesting and the crème caramel was I’m sure, bought in.

On the positive side Trevor had lost the cannibalistic glint he’d had in his eyes, the meal was inexpensive, neither of us suffered any ill effects the following day and both of us have had many a laugh recounting the story to friends.

It was in all truth a very interesting evening, definitely better than staying in watching the TV but I don’t think I’d choose to return to Le Condor, not even to check out that T shirt.

About the author: Tate spends the summers in the Vendee and is passionate about good wine and good food,he writes exclusively for the website.

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