Les Marissons: Amen in Amiens

Posted on Monday, 11th August 2008

Amiens old town

Amiens old town

Our first stop was Amiens, Northern France. With a population of around 135,000, Amiens in Northern France is home to the largest house of God in all France. Its Gothic cathedral, the Cathedrale Notre-Dame D’Amiens, a UNESCO world heritage site is a gem that shines bright over a town otherwise largely devoid of any other tourist sites. Surprisingly then, or perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a proliferation of ‘touristy’ restaurants along the canal which offered 3 course set price menus.

Cathedrale Notre-Dame D'Amiens

Cathedrale Notre-Dame D'Amiens

Our research had led us to Les Marissons. A former 15 century boathouse, it’d been transformed into a cosy old fashioned dining room with an intimate and romantic outside terrace. Its surroundings were tranquil and peaceful, reflecting its positioning between the canal and the lovely landscaped gardens that greet you as you enter, which on this particularly pleasant summer evening provided a certain for a dinner night out in France.

Surveying the restaurant menu illuminated many delicious-sounding choices, but as the restaurant prided itself on its use of local produce, in the end the choices had to the local dishes. Consequently we chose starters of crayfish (€17) dressed lightly with a peanut sauce, and a duck paté with foie gras encased in pastry which were both tasty and all the ingredients resoundingly fresh. The peanut touch in the crayfish added a pleasantly subtle twist to the dish.

Salt marsh lamb

Salt marsh lamb

For main, the real showpiece of local produce, a true regional specialty, lamb from the salt marshes of the Bay of Somme (L’Agneau de Pré-Salés de la Baie de Somme) (€30). For six to eight times a year the sea floods the plains in the Bay of Somme, leaving behind salts and minerals in the ground upon which the lamb graze. A real meat of the earth, it was served roasted with thyme and had an intense depth of flavour and gaminess which was enhanced by a glass of lovely drop from Bordeaux. Its earthiness was reminiscent of flavoured salts but without any overwhelming salinity. Cooked almost to medium rare perfection and matched with buttery roasted vegetables and rich natural roasting juices from the lamb, its integrity was only undermined by the choice of cut – shoulder and not leg – that disappointingly added chewiness to the dish.

Feeling fat, happy and very full, we didn’t have dessert at the restaurant despite the reasonable choices on offer. All in all, the cooking presented was solid and well rounded with a classic touch, the service was courteous and the surroundings surreally pleasant and, compared to what else looked to be on offer, yes, definitely a cut above the rest.

Les Marisssons at:
Pont de la Dodane,
Quartier Saint Leu,
80000, Amiens
http://www.les-marissons.fr


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