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L’Entrepotes, Chinon: Restaurant Review

L’Entrepotes

88 Quai Jeanne d’Arc, 37500 Chinon, France
Tel: +33 (0) 2 47 95 79 59

GPS: 47.165533, 0.242889

June 2022

I can’t help it, I am a creature of habit. When I find myself wandering along the narrow streets of Chinon, and I hear the clock strike twelve, summoning the town’s inhabitants to lunch, I often gravitate towards the Place du Général de Gaulle. Here you can eat cheaply and very cheerfully. Favourites include the Brasserie de l’Hôtel de Ville, purveyor of the finest brochette d’onglet this side of Tours, and Les Saveurs d’Italie, where if you fancy a change from the local fare you can wash down their quite brilliant pizzas with fizzy red Lambrusco. Alternatively, pop around the corner to the Cabane à Vin, for wine with platters of charcuterie and cheese. And if you head up to the top of the square, the options soon multiply; to say you are spoilt for choice would be something of an understatement.

Habits must on occasion be broken though, and so when I last wandered through Chinon and felt the familiar rumblings I headed instead to the other side of town, and called in at L’Entrepotes.

L’Entrepotes does not have the most welcoming facade. It faces out onto the Quai Jeanne d’Arc, which runs along the right bank of the Vienne, but the solid grey fence gives little or no clue as to what lies behind. At the back it also opens out onto the Rue Rabelais (where else but in Chinon would you find Jeanne d’Arc and Rabelais side-by-side?), accessible through a gate and archway, but again it is hard to know what goes on beyond. Is it thronging with famished locals, who know a good lunch when they taste it? Or is it a deserted tourist trap? I decided to find out for myself.

L'Entrepotes

This turned out to be a good decision (well, there’s a first time for everything). After a delightfully flavoursome amuse bouche of cured salmon with a garlic-infused cream cheese atop a small choux bun I opted for gambas poêlées a la Provençale et fettuccini-tagliatelles de légumes. I have to confess the reason I chose this dish was because I wanted something which worked with a glass of white Chinon, but it turned out to be my second good decision of the day. The herb-smothered prawns were fresh and perfectly cooked, the pasta was clearly also freshly made and bore just the right texture, while hidden beneath it all was the most delicious Provençale sauce. This was bright and herby, and textured with microscopic chilli peppers and the vestiges of sweet cherry tomatoes, their skins split, their pulp halfway between solid and sauce, as if they resisted assimilation. It was divine.

L'Entrepotes

I opted for a two course fixed-price menu so subsequently found myself devouring a croustillant fraises et crème chantilly, a crispy case packed to the gills with sliced strawberries, doused in a strawberry coulis and resting upon a bed of Chantilly cream. This did exactly what it was supposed to do, which was make me smile from ear to ear.

The wine list at L’Entrepotes is a Chinon-drinkers delight, featuring all the most desirable names of the appellation, often at very reasonable prices. Philippe Alliet and Bernard Baudry feature, but so too do Couly-Dutheil, Wilfrid Rousse, Baudry Dutour, and maybe a dozen others. My only gripe was that with well over fifty bins listed there were only three wines available by the glass, one white, one rosé and one red. As noted above I plumped for the white, by the glass, principally because this came from the only unfamiliar name on the list (I figured I was having a lucky day), Cyril et Bernard Mary. This was another good choice (thinking I was on a roll, I later bought a Euromillions ticket – but sadly it appears my luck ran out), as their 2019 Petit Chenin was fresh and fruity, but with nice grip and a decent sliver of acidity too.

All in all this was a good lunch, and I should also note that the service was friendly and prompt. And, to answer my earlier question, by the time I was halfway though my meal every table was occupied, and the staff were turning away those without reservations. L’Entrepotes, it seems, is one restaurant that has the seal of approval from famished locals. (9/6/22)

Prices: For lunch, I opted for two courses for €24. The restaurant also offers a three-course evening menu for €32. My glass of Chinon was €5, a small pression was €3.90, sparkling water €4.90, and a coffee €2. Lunch for two (both adhering to the two-course option) came to the grand total of €63.80.