Last Friday we went back to Nieurlet for the afternoon to visit Laurent’s aunt and uncle who were in town. We went to lunch at an estaminet called L’Auberge de Booneghem. The definition of an estaminet varies from pub to café to saloon, but I think that tavern is probably the best definition. I have been to a few other estaminets, one in the same region as Nieurlet, and another lost in the Belgian countryside, and the reigning characteristics of an estaminet seem to be the cozy, rustic décor and the very generous portion sizes. Estaminets are found in northern France and Belgium and the cuisine is traditional to the region. This particular estaminet is a family operation. The mother is in the kitchen and everything that exits the kitchen doors is homemade. Her son was our waiter/host and the service was friendly and warm.
Since L’Auberge was my third estaminet, I knew what to expect as far as portions and tried to find the simpler, lighter menu options. However, by the time the meal was over, I barely rolled out of the restaurant. To start, I had a kir pétillant as an aperitif. There must have been more than just flavored syrup and champagne in the glass as I started to feel a little fuzzy after having only sipped a third of it. No matter, while waiting for the food to be served, I nibbled on homemade bread served with butter and lard. Lard.
That’s right. It was served in a little dish right next to the butter. Laurent’s aunt said that it was good on bread and sprinkled with salt. I tried it just to taste it, but I didn’t find it to be that flavorful, so I ate my bread with butter. The first dish to arrive was a carrot and zucchini soup followed by a cured herring appetizer served with toast. My main course was a sole “kebab” with creamy leeks and rice. I could barely make it through the sole and I knew that dessert was still to come. For dessert, I had a pear tart with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream followed by coffee. The whole meal was accompanied with a nice red wine, whose name I have since forgotten. The food was delicious, rustic, and extremely filling. I should also mention that we arrived at the restaurant around 1p.m. and didn’t leave until 3. Ooof! As soon as we arrived at the house, I took Louis with me to the bedroom and we had a nice digestive nap…from 3:30 to 5:20! I couldn’t believe we slept that long!
L’Auberge de Booneghem
114 route de Booneghem
Tel: 03 21 88 28 50