By Christophe Jacquet
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A year after its opening, the restaurant Les Mets Chai, derived from the wine cellar of the same name in Caen (Calvados), entered the Gault & Millau. Not in the classic version of the gastronomic guidecompetitor of the Michelin, but in a special edition, the 109published this Thursday, September 8, 2022.
Launched two years ago, this less institutional guide lists the “new addresses” in France “which take their time head-on to invent the restaurant of tomorrow”. With 109 portraits of more or less young restaurateurs who have dared to open in the midst of a health crisis, and represent “the new blood of French cuisine”.
“Very above average”
In the 2022 edition, Les Mets Chai is the only restaurant in Caen highlighted. Why ? Its founder, Jean-Charles Halley, cantor of natural wine with “more than 500 references” in his cellar rue des Jacobins, has an idea.
In my opinion, it’s because we do a little more modern cuisine on the Place de Caen, which is off the beaten track.
As, randomly, other friendly and adventurous restaurants, such Fragments (distinguished in the 1D edition of 109) and Indigenous.
His establishment had already been spotted, and quoted in a flattering way on the Gault & Millau website from the inauguration in July 2021: “By splitting the shop and the restaurant, Jean-Charles Halley is doing a double blow, offering the Caennais two strong poles of attraction […] The strength is also the service, well in tune and sufficiently connoisseur of wine to be very, very, very above the Normandy average. »
Two different cards
For the guide 109, The Mets Chai was “preselected by email”, assures Jean-Charles Halley. A recipe – pork, asparagus, wild garlic and a wild plant – was sent to Paris, and a Gault & Millau inspector returned to sit at the foot of the Saint-Jean church.
A priori, rather in the evening, when the restaurant serves a menu “a little more chic, a little more bistronomic, even if the term is overused”, observes the boss.
This menu is prepared by Louis Leprêtre, who returned to Caen after attending the Ferrandi school in Paris and having worked in the kitchens of the highly rated Septimius.
At noon, the menu is different, in line with the one first offered in the wine cellar, rue des Jacobins. It is accommodated by Simon Pien, and it is “a little more market, a little more working-class, with comforting dishes”, according to Jean-Charles Halley.
All accompanied by “wines of thirst, light and digestible”. For 38 seats maximum inside.
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