In my previous post, I reviewed and introduced Domaine de Primard Hotel in Guainville, Normandy, France. I mention there that one of two highlights of my time there was the La Table d’Hote dining experience. It was so special and enjoyable I figured it could use its own post.
Absolutely worth doing. Definitely worth it if you are a group of at least 4 or more to split the cost, and absolutely a great deal if you are a larger group of up to 12. If you are a couple, it is a fantastic option for a romantic evening or special occasion. If you are a small group of friends who all enjoy food and wine, it is a great way to intimately learn about French and Norman cuisine and wine with a Michelin culinary team. The atmosphere and space are very well done to create a wonderful ambiance. It is also away from the main restaurants and as such is very private and secluded. I found it to be one of the most unique dining experiences I have had at any hotel.
Booking La Table d’Hote
The hotel requires at least a 24 hour advance request for booking the experience, and the website indicates it can be for lunch or dinner. It is €1500 minimum spend. You can book anywhere from 2-12 people, though the reception team did say it is possible for a solo meal, though having done it, I dont think this is practical for a solo dining experience. The meal is family style and all dishes are prepared for you in front of you in the antique kitchen. You only choose one main course from the menu, which is the main course for the entire party. According to the menu online appetizers (comes with all, family style) is €28/person, desserts is €16/person and main depends on what you ordered, our’s was €48/person.
I had wanted to do one of my meals during my stay at the gourmet restaurant Eglantine, unfortunately its only Thur-Sun. Since one of our meals was for sure to be at Octave already, I wanted to switch things up. I knew the hotel offered the La Table d’Hote dining experience offered for lunch or dinner. There just was not too much information on their website or online about it. The website currently has English menus for Octave and Eglantine, but they are working on getting the English one for Table d’Hote up. Regardless, I found out in my pre-arrival communications that it was €1500 regardless of party size, for 2-12 people, inclusive of all food and beverage. I inquired more, for example could we forage the organic garden with the chef before dinner to pick some of the produce to be used that evening, could we engage with the chef and learn more about the cuisine and recipes? Was tax and service included in the price? As mentioned, F&B Director Julien reached out and explained that it is a €1500 minimum spend, and that as a party of 2 we could hit that with ordering nicer bottles of wine. He also mentioned we would be his first party of 2, I said I was more than happy to trial it for them. After my phone call with Julien, in which he was very friendly and really just wanted to ensure I was as informed as possible before committing to the meal, I was confirmed to do a Table d’Hote dinner. Not deposit or pre-payment is necessary, you can cancel up to 24 hour prior as within that window, is when the culinary team begins prepping ingredients and resources.
A few days prior to I received an email from Julien asking to select a main course from the newly translated English Table d’Hote menu. I believe they may have translated just in time for us, assuming we were the first English speaking guests to do this. I found out that we could only choose one for the entire party. Upon researching my choices, I settled with Sole Diepoisse, the only Normandy speciality on the list.
And that was it. Exact time of the meal, wine and beverages would be determined on arrival.
On arrival, Julien greeted us and showed us the dining room and kitchen space at the Maison Sur L’Eure. It is a beautiful space and the kitchen is amazing. It is fitting for a romantic evening, evening with family or friends, celebratory, or for folks who just love food and wine and want a chance to engage with a well regarded culinary team. It is both the chef’s table, but the name is actually “The Host’s Table” just like you are the guests at a private home. He showed us the wine list, but we opted to take out time on deciding a few nice bottles to go with our dinner. We would later meet with the sommelier, Louise to discuss the wine, during which time he offered a few bottles not yet on the printed list but available in the uncompleted cellar. We also found out that the chefs were still finalizing our exact menu, I believe given that we were a smaller group, they were able to offer elevated ingredients and dishes as the main appetizers we had were not on the translated menu. And the final per person amount for the items was a bit higher than quoted on the menu online, which given the better ingredients used, not a bad thing at all.
Since we had a later lunch, we told Julien we would like to start at 8PM for our dinner, which he said was perfectly fine.
At 8PM, we headed to the kitchen. It was closed off, but the reception team walked-in to check that the culinary team was ready for us and opened the hidden door to let us in. Candles were lit, they had set the table so we would both face the kitchen knowing we were not a couple and that we were there for the food and experience. Soft, gentle classic music was playing. Our waitress, who was lovely however I have since forgotten her name, was there along with our chef of the evening, Chef Laurent, who, upon chatting with him later, we found out was just temporarily at Primard to help oversee things for he is mainly a chef at Epicure at Hotel Le Bristol in Paris.
The chinaware used is very fine. The flower arrangement was also great, and used fresh strawberries and vegetables. Shortly after taking it in, we sat down and were offered still or sparkling water. Our wine selection was at the ready and Chef Laurent put the finishing touches on the first few appetizers.
The first wine was a Burgundian white, 2012 Saint Aubin Hubert Lamy. Trio of appetizers came out. Green Bean Hazelnut Salad, Aubergine, and Fresh blini with Sea Urchin Tarama: a whipped Uni with mayo and eggs. The Tarama with Blinis was fantastic, never had a sea urchin spread like that before.
Then came a lovely Truffle Lobster Salad. We asked where the lobster was from, and Chef Laurent informed us it was fresh from Brittany. The salad was absolutely fantastic. Generous helping of juicy, fresh and sweet lobster with truffle oil and shavings with some shaved parmesan and fresh leafy greens. Refreshing, aromatic, and nice balance of earth and sea.
Next up was some beautifully grilled shrimp with chimichurri sauce, the shrimp was grilled so outside crunchy but inside tender and juicy/ sweet still. By this point they had cleared the starter trio even though we barely made dents into them, but they did check if we wanted to keep them out. We needed to save room for the rest.
Admittedly I was already full from the hearty portions of the salad, shrimp and appetizer trio. We then moved on to our first red of the night, a 2010 Clos de La Roche Grand Cru, A fantastic Burgundy red.
We also then asked to order a third bottle, thinking we would need it to hit the minimum spend. Another brilliant Burgundian red, 2010 Les Rugiens Premier Cru Pommard Domaine de Courcel. Though in looking back at the final bill I am not entirely sure they charged us for it, or as Julien had explained it the two reds we got were not exactly on the menu or system yet so he found the closest one to put on the bill, and perhaps it equated to the total cost of both reds? Unsure, but either way, they did not backend charge us at check-out either, perhaps just fantastic service and generosity on realizing their mistake?
As Chef Laurent began preparing the main course of Sole Diepoisse, I asked if I could have a closer look and see how he prepares it. I was very much welcome to do so and asked questions as Chef Laurent answered and explained how he was preparing the dish. He also explained that the mushrooms used in the dish were picked from the estate’s organic garden. I also saw him and the waitress work the La Cornue range and oh boy what a beauty that thing is, oven, plate and dish warmer, stove top, brass handles, a dream.
Then our main course was ready to serve, Sole Dieppoise, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, brown butter yellow wine sauce. The sole was served family style in a Staub cast iron dutch oven, once we plated ourselves, Chef Laurent came by to top our plates off with the creamy sauce. By this point we were so full but the sole was so incredibly delicious, we managed to finish the whole thing slowly but surely. We took so long that Chef Laurent offered to reheat the sole and the sauce for us. We said we were ok. The sous-vide sole stuffed with mushroom was perfectly cooked served with sauteed mushroom and spinach drizzled with the brown butter sauce that was creamy yet surprisingly not overly salty or overpowering. We were slowly enjoying our food and wine, and we also offered Chef Laurent some wine to which he accepted and had a glass with us. As we ate our way through the sole, we chatted with Chef Laurent about cooking, food, best and favorite places to eat in Paris, and he invited to join for a meal at Epicure when it reopens in October 2021. A very friendly and passionate chef. Chef Yannis also came by to say hi at one point and to check on the meal.
After we devoured the main dish, a cheeseplate was offered and served. I could barely stuff another bite of food in me but I couldnt resist some locally made goat cheese. It was beautifully smoky and earthy.
Following cheese and a short break, Chef Laurent got to work on preparing desserts. First up was Primard’s signature dessert, Vanilla Bourbon MilleFeulle. We were then asked if we liked rum, I said oh yes, Chef Laurent said he had a surprise for us. What came next was a rum flambe hazelnut chocolate crepe. It was delicious. While having dessert both Julien, the F&B Manager and GM Celian came by to say hi and check on us and ensure we were having a good time. They were both very friendly and easy to talk to while maintaining a professional demeanor.
After dessert, we asked to settle the bill then and there and it was promptly brought over along with the card reader. It appears we fell just a few Euros shy of 1500, but they simply charged us 1500 euro flat inclusive of everything, which I appreciated as opposed to nickel and diming us through the evening to ensure we hit it. Chef Laurent had to duck out shortly after serving dessert as he was heading back into Paris that evening so he bid us farewell.
We still had some wine left and they said we were free to take it to enjoy elsewhere on the property or in our room. We chose to enjoy the rest of the wine in the lounge.
Throughout the meal our water was consistently topped off, so was our wine. It was not overbearing, they gave us space, but no request was too much. It was a memorable, unique and engaging evening with the Primard culinary team.
While the €1500 spend for 2 people is quite steep, we were able to order some nicer bottles of wine from their cellar and for us it was worth the experience, opportunity to engage with the chef and learn about the food and memories. As mentioned, the sheer amount of food and alcohol would make this impractical for a solo experience. Regardless, Domaine de Primard has created a very solid special dining experience at the hotel one that makes a journey to the property worth it. I definitely would recommend if you are very much into food and wines, or are a larger group of friends or a family wanting a nice, private but homey meal in a historic and refined setting without the craze of a large professional kitchen or noise of a public restaurant.