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Le Rustique. Tralee’s French Corner on Prince’s Street
The names Guenter and Dagmar Schwark may not sound Gallic but Le Rustique, the restaurant that the couple run on Tralee’s Prince’s Street, is most definitely French. All the wines are French, some very good ones on the list, and most of the menu headlines for the various dishes are in French.
So you’ll be sipping your Burgundy Pinot Noir with Canard de confit, your Pouilly Fumé with Ange de Mer. You’ll also see some classic French dishes eg Camembert frit de Normandie and Soupe À L’Oignon. By the way, the couple are apparently from the French-German border.
And where does the rustic come in? Aside from some “false windows” complete with flower boxes on one wall, there are not that many signs. But there are some dishes that might fit the bill, Foie D'Agneau " Le Rustique “ (Lambs Liver, to you and me) and perhaps the Paupiette de Poulet (chicken wrapped in air-dried ham) among them.
Oh yes, the chef makes the occasional appearance in the dining room wearing, not the formal whites, but a short-sleeved tee. That sets the tone, casual. Rustic if you like. Don't worry though, sit up and enjoy the food. The sauces are rich but the prices are not.
And the place is comfortable as we found when, after a warm welcome and our candle lit ("for ambience"), we sat back to study the menu. You’ll be glad to know that, aside from the dish headlines, all the details are in plain English. Helpfully too, they suggest wines for some of the main dishes and do watch out for their steak specials, all based on local Hereford beef.
I must admit though that my starter was no more than a bowl of local mussels, though it sounded rather grand when titled Moules Marinieres a LA Créme, the crustaeceans cooked in a white wine, garlic cream and leek jus, served in a mussel pot and french bread. They did taste well though!
CL had chosen the Tarte d’Alsace: oven baked, topped with sour cream, bacon lardons and red onions, an old traditional French dish with lots of butter and cream. Delicious too. She continued with the Canard a l’Orange, the Barbary duck breast fillet on orange sauce, rich and gorgeous and served with Ratatouille and Gratin.
My pick was the Ange de Mer. The Monkfish filet came on a white wine Tarragon sabayon,
glazed asparagus, wild rice and garnish side. A lovely mix of textures and flavours. Another pretty rich dish!
And they would get richer - we knew as we had a look at the short dessert menu! I felt my French waitress would never speak to me again if I didn't take her tip and try the home-made dark mousse au chocolate on vanilla flan. I did, she was happy and so was I.
I also got a few spoonfuls of CL’s Crème Brûlée, described as “old traditional French dessert, vanilla cream, topped with a crispy sugar crust and caramel, served with Vanilla ice cream”. It was all that, rich and sweet and delicious.
The whiskey drinker will find enough to amuse him or her here but the craft beer drinker is out of luck. A terrific wine list, all French as mentioned earlier. If going for a white, my tip would be the superb Bestheim Pinot Blanc, available by the glass. On the red side, there’s the Denuziere Hermitage and a couple of lovely Pinot Noirs, either the Domaine Muret or Picard Bourgogne will pair well with your rustic duck!