Escargot at La Table Anna, Reims



An amuse bouche at La Table Anna, Reims
A palate cleanser at La Table Anna


- JUNE 4TH 2014 -



The restaurant is slowly beginning to fill up for lunch, as French businessmen and women in grey suits come to drink fancy wine over plates of swordfish. The sound of fizzing champagne. The obligatory piles of french bread in wicker baskets on each table. The low murmurs of delight when a dish is brought out, and soft laughter all fill the air.
There is a waiter, for food, and it appears I also have a wine waiter too. He has some really great suggestions. I wonder how one gets such a specialised position.
My entrée arrives: snails cooked in small clay pots filled with parsley and garlicky butter, each one topped with an equally buttery round of toast. There and then, I eat my first ever snail...
Fishing it out of its burning-hot clay pot, I notice it has no shell, and thus it does not look particularly like a snail. Without thinking too far into it, though, I go ahead and try one. It tastes the way damp earth smells in a garden after the rain. The earthy flavour and the garlic butter mingle surprisingly well.
I have already eaten an amuse bouche, twelve buttery snails, and a small glass of raisin sorbet - a kind of palate cleanser - before the main course comes out. There is something so divine about a multi course meal, and, when paired with wine, I feel like I am seated in a concert hall, my mind moving through the various parts of a symphony. There is the anticipation before the beginning, the excitement at the first notes, the intense concentration on the composition, and then that feeling of losing focus and becoming utterly lost in the music. Or, in this case, lost in food.
I think I lost myself around the time of the main course. It is duck, with mushrooms and one single heirloom tomato. That tomato though... It is a revelation, all warm and bursting with flavour. The wine is going to my head. Inwardly, I sound like Chandler Bing from the tv series 'Friends': Oh. My. God.
But wait, there's more! I must have looked stunned just now as the waiter approaches with the cheese platter I greedily ordered. But what reads as a platter of fine cheeses on the menu, turns out to be a giant trolly of unlimited choices in real life. If the waiter thought my expression was comical, he should have seen the old French guy beside me, sitting with his wife. His eyes lit up and became all sparkly, before he realised the cheese selection was not for him. I have to go with my gut here, having no idea how to pick, I simply point at the ones that look most interesting. This tactic proves both a blessing and a curse, as I then experience the best and worst cheeses of my life. The best: a white 'Chaourse' that is so light and creamy it could be spun from moonbeams and butter. The worst (and here I should have trusted by better judgement) was an orange monster that tasted like toenails and the way damp basements smell. Well, each to their own, I guess.
Finalement, I choose a coffee from their extensive coffee menu. You know you are in the right place when they have a coffee menu.
There is that certain feeling of tummy-satisfaction that comes when one eats French bread, French cheese and drinks French wine. Mix that in with a good meal, and your tummy gets all warm and happy. Much like a hobbit might be after Elevenses. 
If the day had ended right there, I would have been utterly content, but my day was blessed further by the lovely conversation I struck up with the old French gentleman and his wife; a good twenty minutes of contemplation in the deserted church of St Remi during a thunderstorm; and a singly perfect glass of champagne in the limestone caves of Taittinger, underneath the city of Reims.
Later, running through the pelting rain, I felt not just contentment but complete bliss.



Plate du jour, La Table Anna 
The cheese board - select four at La Table Anna
Dessert at La Table Anna
Coffee at the end of the meal, of course - very French. 
New friends met at the restaurant

The restaurant Anna S. can be found at:

6. Rue Gambetta, Reims, France.