Update: Despite the description below readers should that Chez Rémi has since moved from its position on the Boulevard du Maréchal Foch and the address above is correct. I have eaten there again since the review below, at the new location, enjoying smoked salmon and ibérico pork, and quality seemed just as good. I have not written a new review, however, as I dined there as a guest, and I have a policy of only reviewing after paying for all elements of the meal myself.
If it were not for its bright red facade, it would be very easy to overlook Chez Rémi, a venue which, if there were an international award for tiniest restaurant, would surely be in the running. Sitting on the Boulevard du Maréchal Foch in Angers (n.b. see note above on location), Chez Rémi appears to be located within little more than a one-story concrete corridor, attached rather incongruously on the side of the somewhat more impressive four-storey Banque Populaire Atlantique. Do not, however, be fooled by this near-microscopic outward appearance; Chez Rémi possess some Tardis-like quality, as inside there is sufficient room for not one but two rows of tables. At the far end, in a slightly elevated position, sits the kitchen. Halfway down, on a chalk board, easily within view of every seat in the house (perhaps with a little craning of the neck) is the menu. Were it not for the slightly functional appearance of the tables and chairs, ‘cosy’ might be the best description. As it is, perhaps ‘bijou’ is the most apt.
The menu is limited, with four or five choices for starter, the same for each course thereafter. Next to the menu is a chalked-up list of suppliers – authenticity and traceability is a selling point here – the potential list of ingredients being about four times as long as the number of dishes on offer. I kicked off with a mushroom bisque, which was very thick, creamy, well flavoured and warming, more comfort-food than elegant, but ultimately enjoyable. Thereafter I opted for pan-fried pork, and in keeping with the warm, soul-food feel this came crispy on the outside, juicy and barely pink at its very centre, with a pile of winter root vegetables and a warming gravy. It was a meal built to satisfy any hungry visitor who might just have finished a long day of tasting at the Salon des Vins de Loire. Chasing it down with a selection of cheeses only added to this effect.
The wine list at Chez Rémi is one that should keep fans of ‘natural’, organic and biodynamic wine happy, featuring Loire growers such as Thierry Puzelat, René Mosse, Pierre Breton and Chahut et Prodiges, to name a small selection. We (being three in number) started with the 2010 Noëls de Montbenault from Richard Leroy, which showed very well, although there was a more prominent baked-apple-oxidative note than I am used to with Richard’s wines. I never made a formal note, remiss of me as I haven’t tasted this vintage before, but I am sure I will be able to put this right sometime in the future. As a follow-up, I went with the 2009 In Côt we Trust from Puzelat-Bonhomme. Now I think of it, when I ate here a few years ago, Thierry Puzelat was having dinner on the next table along. It seemed only appropriate to go with one of his wines this time, and this one was really singing, full of tense fruit and bright acidity, so much so that a second bottle – the restaurant’s last – was called for.
Service was easy-going and polite throughout, and when the bill arrived I thought there was good value here too. Perhaps the only downside was that, sitting quite close to the door which opens directly out onto the street, and with near-freezing temperatures outside, I did find myself being blasted by cold air now and again. Nevertheless, Chez Rémi is certainly a venue I would like to return to in the future. Booking with such a small and really quite popular venue is essential though, especially at busy times of the year such as during the Salon des Vins de Loire.
Price: For two courses expect to pay €19, for three courses €24. The wine list is dominated by local wines, with a strong ‘natural’ feel to it, and seems reasonably priced. We paid €28 for the Puzelat-Bonhomme, and €45 for the Richard Leroy. Total price for this visit, including three courses and a bottle of wine per person, came to approximately €58 per head. (15/3/13)