Hubert Giblet’s* gourmet break

Near Chinon, Les Jardiniers restaurant is a nugget created by Richard Galland and Florence Soulier, at the foot of the Domaine du Moribot. This includes 12 hectares of truffle fields, the Truffle Academy, a vast kitchen garden, flower gardens (including edible varieties) and aromatic plant gardens… Chef Martin Bolaers uses the produce gleaned on the restaurant’s doorstep to offer inventive, seasonal and delicious cuisine.

A few days after this article was written, Les Jardiniers restaurant was awarded a green star in the Michelin Guide on 18 March 2024!

 A well thought-out concept

The man who created the restaurant, Richard Galland, is a former Parisian interior designer whose roots are in Touraine, in Ligré to be precise. He had set up his second home in the house of his ancestors, on a hill overlooking what is now a green path, formerly the old railway line that linked Richelieu to Chinon. As this part of Touraine lends itself to truffle-growing, he planted truffle trees. He then devised a cleverly integrated system for showcasing the truffles harvested on the estate.

Deeply attached to the local terroir, he conceived of a restaurant where everything would be within easy reach: a restaurant adjoining a vegetable garden providing seasonal, local produce, guaranteeing absolute freshness. This is the concept behind Les Jardiniers.

The vegetable garden of Les Jardiniers, restaurant in Ligré, Indre et Loire, Loire Valley district, France. French gastronomy, Michelin Guide 2024.

The vegetable garden ©Florence Soulier

Florence Soulier, the owner’s partner, is passionate about flowers, so part of the garden is her world. The tables are decorated by her, but the kitchen is also stocked with edible flowers.

©Chanel Koehl

Of course, the herb patches offer the chef an abundant range of plants… so he doesn’t have to resort to far-flung spices. All the gardens are cultivated in a totally eco-responsible way.

The dapper little room, furnished with antiques, is pleasant and unpretentious. A pretty bar barely separates it from the open kitchen, where you can watch the chef and his team prepare the dishes that will arrive on your table. As you can imagine, in fine weather, lunch on the vast terrace allows you to admire the surrounding gardens.

A talented chef to promote local produce

Martin Bolaers ©Florence Soulier

Since September 2023, Martin Bolaers has been in charge of the kitchen. His philosophy is completely in keeping with the concept of Les Jardiniers: respect the seasons and bring out the best in local produce. And everything that isn’t produced on the estate is rigorously selected by him, mainly from a small area in the surrounding countryside and according to exacting quality criteria. Sea fish is selected via sustainable fishing channels and rigorous sourcing. All the producers are mentioned on the menus.

Martin was born in Belgium 44 years ago. He tells us about his career:

“I cut my teeth in a few family-run establishments in Belgium, which gave me the chance to try my hand at everything. Then I took charge of a big, trendy brasserie on the outskirts of Luxembourg City. It took me five years to get into Gault & Millau, with a score of 14/20: it was no longer a trendy brasserie, but a benchmark in Luxembourg! 🙂 I stayed there for seven years. When I arrived in the region in 2017, I very quickly joined the brigade of Thibaut Ruggeri, Michelin-starred chef at Fontevraud, and became assistant chef within a few months. I stayed there for five and a half years before moving to Chinon.”

This is how he expresses the philosophy behind his cooking at the garden restaurant Les Jardiniers:

“From harvest to plate! My cooking is spontaneous, sincere and joyful, inspired by the natural world around us. Back from picking in the vegetable garden, I work on straightforward, raw and delicate tastes with a balance of flavours. I want to tell you about the products of the earth and the pleasure I get from revealing them, for a moment of sharing and emotion. We take everything very seriously, without taking ourselves too seriously!”

©Chanel Koehl

©Chanel Koehl

©Florence Soulier

©Florence Soulier

©Chanel Koehl

©Chanel Koehl

©Florence Soulier

©Florence Soulier

©Chanel Koehl

©Chanel Koehl

What are we eating?

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of products from the kitchen garden, as well as excellent meats rigorously selected from local producers and fish from extremely high-quality sources. The use of these products is superbly executed in highly original (but never over-the-top) recipes. Perfectly cooked, with the right textures, flavours and presentation, every facet of gastronomy is on your plate.

One of the house’s must-tries is “instant T“: this starter, which is always on the menu, is a mix of vegetables and herbs, a snapshot of the kitchen garden. So it’s constantly changing with the seasons, depending on the harvests. I’ve tried it several times, and it’s always different, but always absolutely succulent (although I’m not usually convinced by a dish composed exclusively of vegetables!)

Of course, when it’s in season, I can’t recommend that you try these truffle dishes! In south-western Touraine, the black tuber melanosporum truffle is king. But summer truffles are also grown here, which will delight many taste buds in the summer months…

A word about the service: Alexandre in the dining room is a real character! He has a great sense of humour and often has a dry sense of humour, and he too contributes to a superb culinary experience with attentive service and sound advice on drinks (a lovely menu!). I could go on and on about this restaurant… but I’d rather whet your appetite with a few photos!

©Chanel Koehl

©Chanel Koehl

©Les Jardiniers

©Les Jardiniers

©Chanel Koehl

©Chanel Koehl

©Hubert Giblet

©Hubert Giblet

Menus

Two-course lunch (excluding weekends and public holidays) : Starter/Main course or Main course/Cheese preparation or Dessert / €30

Three courses: Starter / Main course / Cheese preparation or Dessert / €45

Four courses: Starter / Main course / Cheese preparation / Dessert / €55

Five courses: Starter / Fish / Meat / Cheese preparation / Dessert / 70€.

For young gardeners under 12, main course and dessert / €25

Les Jardiniers restaurant

1, La Gare – 37500 Ligré (5 km from Chinon)

Wednesday to Saturday, lunch and dinner & Sunday lunch.

+ 033 (0)2 47 93 99 93 / https://restaurantlesjardiniers.fr

 

Hubert Giblet* Hubert Giblet, gourmet and food-lover, is head of the Automnales Gastronomy Festival for the Val de Loire Terres de Gastronomie association and the Azay-Chinon Val de Loire Tourist Office.

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