~ Delightful fare! ~
How I love the evenings out we have – just us girls on occasion! The song “Just the two of us” comes to mind and although that may be meant as a lovers’ song, it can be adapted to being with anyone who has a lot of meaning to you. Of course, having fine wine along with a delicious meal in a great ambiance helps set the mood.
And so it was one evening recently that we found ourselves driving and chatting away nineteen to the dozen, no fixed place that we were heading to, just following our noses. Past Grand Case, one takes the road at the roundabout to Cul de Sac, down that road. Almost at the turnoff to Anse Marcel is a cottage that has changed hands a few times over the years, once it was Hibiscus, then A Pinch of Salt and more recently we noticed it is called A Grain of Pepper.
My companion said she has friends who go there quite often; it is their home away from home. I was intrigued to try it, as the building is painted in the shades of various peppers – not the capsicum variety but the hard pepper-grinding type of pepper – browns, greys and blues. Inside we found that a hint of red pepper was used on the cushion covers on the chairs – pretty whimsical and fun and the welcome we got from the wait staff was warm and inviting.
We were seated at a table by a large, open window. I must say we were both a tad chilly, but knowing that this is the “chilly” time of year, we had gone prepared – must be gorgeous on a hot summer’s evening sitting at the open windows.
This is actually a Mom and Pop place as it turns out. The sweet person who welcomed us so warmly and waited on us is the owner and the chef is her husband. In between being served, we heard a bit of their story. Both French, she worked for some years in London at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants; her husband comes from the Pyrenees. Their sense of whimsy prompted them to put the play on the name of their restaurant.
The walls are adorned with paintings by a local artist, in the same pepper colours – they are mostly of nudes. The tables are laid in an understated simplicity – we could have been dining in an old farmhouse in the middle of the French countryside.
Our first course came almost immediately after we got our cocktails; these were a good Mojito and a G&T (gin and tonic), we also had a very nice rose wine with our meal. Our first courses were delightful, we had Escargot in Puff Pastry and Saumurade of Salmon with a lemon and aneth sauce. The snails in puff pastry was out of this world, the sauce was so more-ish, just not enough of it – snail soup should be a menu item using just that sauce and some of the wee critters. The gravadlax, however, was simply to swoon over; a house specialty that captures all the best of the salmon flavours and the sauce a perfect accompaniment.
Our entrees were wonderful too, we enjoyed a confit of duck and a very good seared tuna, although the tuna was wonderfully flavoured and perfectly cooked, the outside could have been a little more seared to arrive at the table a bit hotter. It was chilly that evening, of course. The veggies were green beans and a puree of carrot.
Our desserts were a perfect ending to the meal – the French styled apple pie won hands down with a thin pastry crust, a layer of apple and drizzled with a gooey caramel sauce, served with a scoop of delicious caramel ice cream; the chocolate lava cake had an awesome, gooey chocolate centre and was served with some vanilla ice cream – perhaps I should recant that and say they got equal points as they were both worthy of a great ending to a most enjoyable meal.
We had spied a side table with homemade rum decanters and were pleased to find that they were not just for show when we were offered a shot of rum to finish the meal – this French tradition of fruity rum shots at the end of a meal is the best.
The entire evening was most enjoyable and not terribly expensive; this great family restaurant is well worth trying out, especially for its satisfyingly delicious repast.
Le Grain de Poivre
111 route de cul de sac
Cul De Sac, Saint Martin
Phone: +590 690 77-9787
Staff friendliness: ****
Service speed: ****
Restaurant cleanliness: ****
Food quality: ****
Value for money: ****