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Northern France is redeemed

After the total shite of a Saturday, Sunday lunch was a complete treat. Le Buffet at Isbergues, an hour away from Calais provided excellent food and wine at complete bargain prices.

They had four set menus on offer, the most expensive of which was an inexpensive 60€. We chose a 45€ menu, which seemed to offer reasonable entertainment for the money.

We started off with three amuses bouches: a mousse of beetroot and some kind of fish, this was completely delicious, the fish was really tasty, not over-cooked at all. This came with a carpaccio of sea-bass with pistachios, which was a tad fishy but perfectly acceptable. The final amuse bouches was a soup of pumpkin, quite lovely. These all really perked me up and set me in the mood for an excellent meal.

The starters were great. I had some truly lovely foie gras with an apple sorbet and a cinnamon poached pear. This was brilliant, the parts all worked in harmony and were of excellent quality. The partner had some perfectly cooked scallops in a creamy mussel froth with some lovely root vegetable frites. The quality of these starters was very high for the price we were paying.

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We all chose fillet of local beef for our main courses. It was perfectly aged and cooked as little as we asked for. It came with excellent mushrooms that were full of flavour and a little bowl of mashed potato and pumpkin velouté, which I could take or leave but everyone else liked. Again these were excellent quality for the price.

We had a white chocolate mousse with very rich dark chocolate sauce for dessert. The sauce was very powerful, and the mousse quite delicate, they matched perfectly. The chocolate was served with a passion fruit and mango sorbet, which was quite refreshing. They also brought out some green and orange lollipops with this that were hilarious but a bit too sweet to finish.

The menu was very well-balanced and in command of seasonal variation. And, it has to be said, a complete bargain. The wine list was very well chosen and had perfectly reasonable mark-ups. Finishing off with a huge bumper of green Chartreuse really put a smile on my face. An excellent meal that didn’t break the bank and left us all with a warm glow of satisfaction. The best place to eat in the Pas-de-Calais, without a doubt.

Restaurant Le Buffet, 22 rue de la Gare, Lieu-dit Molinghem, 62330 Isbergues. Tel: +33 (0)3 21 25 82 40 http://www.le-buffet.com/

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