At Les Sables-d’Olonne, the ‘anti-crisis’ menu is a recipe


againstHow do you go from four blankets a day to an entire house while rejecting even people? Micael Benoit found the recipe, and it almost appears on a slate on the sidewalk across from his restaurant: “Anti-Crisis Menu.” Since mid-March he has been making a full appetizer – main course – dessert at La Pagaille (with two choices each time) for €10, or €8 for a starter main course or dessert main course. Here we offer only the freshest products, which we transform if necessary before putting them on the plate.

Wednesday afternoon example: In the sink, a large bowl full of french fries is waiting to be dipped in oil. The result of five kilos of potatoes, peeled by hand and cut lengthwise in the same morning. They will accompany a steak that was prepared a few minutes ago in beautiful slices, ready to grill on the flames of kamado, a Japanese grill placed under a large hood. “All great chefs have it now,” the chef proudly introduces. And those who forego red meat can always undo the scallops with cream simmered right next to them in a saucepan, along with green beans.

frozen? Don’t even think about it! “French fries are made here, they are cheaper and more so they are the best,” smiles the chief, who, in addition to being in the kitchen, also answers the phone for reservations and serves himself in the dining room. In fact, to provide a meal at such an unbeatable price, it is impossible, at present, to provide a waiter or waitress even if his wife Manny lends him a helping hand twice a week on market days.

The new canteen

But by the way, do you eat well for a 10 euro banknote? To the many dishes that were returned empty in the kitchen and to the smiles of the customers, it was clearly a yes. “This value for money, I have never found better! Catherine exclaimed, surrounded by three friends.” At this price, we can’t be too demanding, expecting something not so terrible and yet there, it’s good, Thierry regal. I feel like it’s going to become my canteen pretty quickly! »

“Canteen” has already been adopted privately by the employees of the neighboring town hall. “We no longer ask ourselves questions before going to the restaurant, and it is easier to invite someone because we do not destroy ourselves! 10 euros today is what we put in more to fill the car, and finally, we realize that it is a meal. Yes, we are filled with a good meal!”

This is exactly the calculation that Micael Benoit made when he decided to offer this low-cost formula. “In February, when all prices went up everywhere, we told ourselves that in France it is not normal not to eat cheap, except for fast food. So our idea is to prove that you can have good food for lunch and dinner for 10 euros. If the bet works ‘I don’t count my time,’ admits this father of five, at dawn to get ready because, in addition to serving food (lunch and dinner), La Pagaille is also an all-day bar.

Also thanks to drinks and coffee, the cash register was filled (30% of the final bill). For the rest, you have to juggle the prices to generate a small margin. “It should cost me 4 euros or 4.50 euros per serving, but if I buy a ready-made dessert, for example, it will already be 3.50 euros. There, I make it myself and it costs only 50 cents, the same for starters, and for the main course it is max 3.50 euros It’s very hot, but we’ll get there! We work with local producers and I have a supplier who can find me fish for 12 euros a kilo or lobsters for 5 euros a kilo.”

‘I’m targeting minimum wage’

And this is how La Pagaille is on its way to becoming one of the most popular tables in the seaside resort without being in Remblay! Despite this, his boss, renting walls, did not particularly enrich himself. It doesn’t matter, “My goal is not to earn a lot but to please myself and please people,” he says. Since I took over, in May 2021, I have not paid myself, and today the situation is changing, I am seeking a minimum wage.

Spring breaks, then summer vacations, will be important scouts. It will then be time for an evaluation with the accountant. Micael Benoit asserts: “We will succeed in recovering costs.” From May, its price will increase slightly to 12 euros. Inflated customers who are more loyal to the concept should not pay and put a little butter in the spinach. Home-cooked spinach, of course…

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