Aux Saveurs de la Tonnelle
Whether you are looking for slow-paced dining à la carte, or a tapas-style avalanche of Lilliputian dishes, you will find something in Saumur which fits the bill. From corner-side cafés where you can watch the world go by, to the crisp white linen of Les Ménestrels, there is something for every pocket here.
Located in a prominent position on the corner of the Rue de la Tonnelle and the Place de la République, close to the Quai Mayaud and the waters of the Loire itself, Aux Saveurs de la Tonnelle slots into the cheap-and-cheerful category, where the focus is very much the wine rather than the food. Established in 2002, the proprietors of this caviste and bar à vin have been slaking the thirst of locals and tourists alike with their exemplary selection of wines, naturally heavy on the big names of the Loire Valley, for nearly two decades.
The dining options, for those familiar with the many wine bars of the Loire Valley (I’m doing my best to get acquainted with them all), is akin to that offered by the Cabane à Vin or the Cave Voltaire in Chinon. The wine list is the main attraction here, with half a dozen selections each in white and red available by the glass, two short but well-chosen lists of names. The petite restauration offered consists of a selection of five platters, charcuterie and cheese being the obvious choices, or a mix of the two. The océane option focuses on seafood, while the gourmande is a selection from all three choices. I plumped for the mixte, and received a wooden platter laden with terrine de campagne, rillettes, cornichons and sliced charcuterie on one side, and a smorgasbord of cheeses on the other, along with a basket of bread. It was impossible not to be satisfied with both quantity, quality and value.
The wine list, as I have already alluded, has plenty of choices for ligérophiles, including options from Jo Landron, Damien Delecheneau and Chateau de Bois Brinçon, among others, all reasonably priced to my mind. I opted for a glass of the 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Amphibolite Nature chased down by the 2018 Touraine Amboise Bel Air from the first two domaines listed, both of which were fine, each showing the generosity of the 2018 vintage, but with freshness and sufficient acidity for balance.
Being very light on the wallet, this is one wine bar to which I will be returning. Did I say it was cheap and cheerful? Scratch that – this is very cheap, and very cheerful.
Prices: The platters are €7 for a small and €13 for a large cheese or charcuterie, €8 and €15 for a mixte, a little more for océane or gourmande. The wines start at a little over €3 per glass. The ‘small’ platters are more than sufficient for lunchtime refuelling. The bill for two ‘small’ mixte platters, two glasses of wine and a small bottle of sparkling mineral water was just €30.80. (15/6/19)