The city of Angers in North-central France is a favourite of historians fascinated by its UNESCO World Heritage status. For those of us less academically-minded, it’s a stop-off point between some of the Northern French ports and destinations to the South. Like many mid-sized French cities, it is rightly proud of its local produce and its take on local cuisine.
I picked an evening early in the week to wander out, admiring the beautiful old town across the river, on a crisp late Spring day that meant only the hardy smokers were seated outside under their blankets, while everyone else was keeping warm inside.
Mamie Fado is one of the most celebrated restaurants on this side of the river and its reputation is well matched by the stylish ‘Maison Maitre’ townhouse it has taken over.
Oddly, the host/hostess took reservation or seating requests at the barrel you see in the picture above – that’s an iPad and their written notes. I watched how this arrangement worked throughout the evening, given that nobody was sitting outside and, to be honest, it really was a recipe for delay. It took time for a host to notice there was a line of people outside with the knock-on effect of delay to the customers they were serving in the back.
The restaurateurs have taken their branding seriously, extending their text-heavy logo to water bottles and wine glasses.
The bar (or rather, cocktail zone) is lit thoughtfully and compliments the rich blue stair colour. The fact that this highlights the colours of the French flag was not lost on me!
The linen is high quality and charming. However, I’d suggest this textile is best suited to a bistro-style restaurant, or at least that the colour theme used at the cocktail bar be carried through the table linen.
I chose from a set menu for the evening. The choices for a warm starter were pretty thin and I went with a squash soup with croutons and fried lardons. The cooking on the bacon was patchy – some crispness, but mostly flaccid. The soup was much too thick, like baby food. The addition of more stock or some other flavour profile would have rescued this.
I chose a main course of steak served with fries and a sauce vert. The sauce was excellent, piquant and thick. The fries had definitely seen properly hot fat at least twice and were crisp and unctuous. The star ingredient, the steak, had plenty of beefy flavour but was so difficult to eat as it was tough. Sometimes an onglet (or hanger steak) can be tough. It’s hard to get just right but it can be tender and flavourful when handled very carefully. This was not the case here. I do laud the chef for the temperature of the beef and the heavy hand with salt flakes.
The dessert looks marvellous and tasted fine. The butter caramel over a whole cored apple was rich and sweet and could have used a pinch more salt. The milk sorbet with its crunchy granola rather skidded around the plate. If it’s not too nit-picky, I like crumbles and granolas on TOP of other food items that might try to make a run for it!
Towards the end of the meal, I got chatting with the server about my love for Cointreau. I like it served on ice, no mixer. She produced something I’ve not seen before – Cointreau NOIR – a blend with Cognac. She poured me a tot, for which I was most grateful. The Cognac added a warm vigour to the orange liqueur and I certainly walked back to my lodgings with a full flush on my cheeks!
It’s plain to see why Mamie Fado has won a place in the culinary heart of the Angers restaurant-goer. There are some things here which are well-done, carefully considered. However, the attention to detail in the design and better courses must carry through into attentive service and the handling of the meat. With both of those, Mamie Fado would be unstoppable.