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I’m pretty sure that this is going to be a contentious thread, but I feel pretty strongly about it, so here goes.

Shortly before Christmas, my wife and I travelled on the overnight St Malo - Portsmouth crossing.  We always eat in the main restaurant, but have been increasingly unhappy in recent times (we make the journey 2 - 3 times p.a.).  Mrs G will almost always take the fish as a main, but it has frequently been overcooked - by that I mean cooked and left on the ‘pass’.  My mains have varied in quality, but rarely memorable.

On this occasion, I ordered the ‘Pulled Lamb’ dish (anything ‘pulled’ seems to be the current fad).  Mrs G took the vegetarian dish, which was a pulse dish of some sort.  Mine was totally average, my wife’s was really poor.  Her dish had zero ‘eye appeal’ and tasted completely bland.  

Now, en route to Brittany, we always stop in a Campanile hotel.  Yes, I know, not everybody’s idea of a perfect hotel, but they’re clean and very reasonably priced.  The evening before, she had a vegetarian dish which was undoubtedly ‘out of a bag’, but which was absolutely delicious.  Cost was €9.90.

I rather feel that BF has lost the plot over its waiter service restaurants.  We’re not looking for ‘steak / frites’ (although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that).  But what about a nice Rack of Lamb with a Gratin?  The research chefs seem to be trying to go too far in producing something different and ‘off the wall’.  The ambiance and service in the restaurants remain excellent - the food much less so IMO.

Did we complain at the time?  The half- finished plates said it all and our waiter offered to get us something else - we politely declined.

I read a restaurant report in a magazine while we were in the UK.  One of the lines was “It’s for people who don’t mind paying for mediocrity if it comes in a nice outfit”.  Sums up my view entirely.  

 

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We like the atmosphere and buffets, however the main course is so so, the rack of lamb when it is on is usually ok.

I generally have the starter buffet and the main, however my wife is more than happy with just the two buffets as she gorges on all of seafood and has a really good meal 

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I tend to agree.  The buffet is always great in the restaurants, but the cooked-to-order mains are hit or miss.  Often because they are not actually cooked to order, but batch cooked and sometimes sit around a bit, being kept warm, before being brought to you.  Hence they are often over-cooked (both fish and meat courses).

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We dined twice in Le Flora [Pont Aven] on the Xmas Trip with excellent food and service etc. Main courses of Duck and Pulled lamb in a rice concoction. I had a rack of lamb in the Self Service with which I was very happy. The wife had a disappointing roast chicken. 

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Gardian,   If you are referring to the Pont Aven, I'm not surprised, especially as it was a Christmas time crossing.   Our experiences in Le Flora over the festive season have never been good. Long waits to be served, buffet going un replenished, right down to there not being enough milk jugs to go round at breakfast time.  

If you are referring to Bretagne and Les Abers, I'm surprised.

However last night, 16.1.20  Les Abers was late opening at dinner time and two customers who had dared to enter at the advertised opening time of 18.15 were asked to leave temporarily as the staff "weren't ready". We dined self service but checked the notice to see what time breakfast would be served - 06.15 it said.  By this morning when we arrived there, on time, 06.15 along with some other passengers, it had been changed to 07.15.  Grrrr !  The ship was quite empty, only deck 3 was in use for all vehicles, it made parking pleasant for a change !

Low passenger numbers and a sailing just after Storm Brendan had abated resulted in a relaxed atmosphere and a pleasant crossing. Breakfast was as good as ever.

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Last summer in the Les Abers, which we found to be a very good lunch especially the seafood buffet, we had a long chat with a staff member and she said that some of the food is now prepared or partly so at BF`s large kitchen plant in Roscoff and trucked to the other ships. Maybe thats why `fings aint wot they used to be`...Prepping and cooking from scratch on each vessel produces fine food but the costs and waste would be very high. Maybe some of the main courses are actually cook/chill rather than fresh. On the plus side the Bretagne, at least, carries 2 bakers who do fresh every day. The prepack sandwiches are from Roscoff though.

  Sign of the times I suppose.

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Thinking about it, the two nicest mains I’ve had in the buffet restaurants were both in Les Romantiques on MSM.  The buffet itself is smaller, and not a patch on Les Abers or Le Flora.  But I wonder whether the smaller volumes for lunch on the Ouistreham route may mean that there is more chance of the dish being well cooked to order.  Or it may just be a coincidence.  But I remember both of those dishes being absolutely delicious.

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Breakfast in La Flora coming back from Roscoff last September was amusing.  The waiter asked if we wanted Full English - they call it Vitalite - then realised the chef hadn't turned up and no one was cooking. So he and his mate went behind the counter and started frying up bacon and eggs, bustling them out on to the pass calling for other food runners to help. After we were served two chefs arrived, adjusting their toques, and looking very grand and smart. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The food on BF is nowhere as good as it was 10 20 years ago.  We have always enjoyed getting on board having a superb meal with a bottle of wine but then the Amorique arrived and things went rapidly downhill from there. I once had the fish and chips; well I think it might have been fish, whatever it was clearly it had not seen the sea for several decades!  

We now just have a starter, which is rather good, and a dessert.

Really miss that great start to the holiday, clamber onboard, wander about the ship, have a long lunch and oh there is France on the horizon! 

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22 minutes ago, Aphrodite said:

well I think it might have been fish, whatever it was clearly it had not seen the sea for several decades!  

Perhaps it was just an old trout. 

23 minutes ago, Aphrodite said:

oh there is France on the horizon!

Nowadays you can see plumes of smoke rising from the burning barricades well before France appears on the horizon. It's all part of the holiday experience. 

Ed. 

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7 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Nowadays you can see plumes of smoke rising from the burning barricades well before France appears on the horizon. It's all part of the holiday experience. 

You translating for the French Tourist board these days 🤣?

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52 minutes ago, Aphrodite said:

The food on BF is nowhere as good as it was 10 20 years ago.  We have always enjoyed getting on board having a superb meal with a bottle of wine but then the Amorique arrived and things went rapidly downhill from there. I once had the fish and chips; well I think it might have been fish, whatever it was clearly it had not seen the sea for several decades!  

We now just have a starter, which is rather good, and a dessert.

Really miss that great start to the holiday, clamber onboard, wander about the ship, have a long lunch and oh there is France on the horizon! 

Couldn't agree more!

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Worst fried eggs in years on Armorique on my last trip.

Les Abers and le Flora mains seem to have got more left field,  straying away from classics, and I think the results are too frilly and often disappointing.

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Here’s me looking forward to a meal in Les Abers probably one of the few times the Mrs will join me as well due to early boarding in StMalo , I’m sure it will still be better than a little chef in Birmingham though.

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40 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

Here’s me looking forward to a meal in Les Abers probably one of the few times the Mrs will join me as well due to early boarding in StMalo , I’m sure it will still be better than a little chef in Birmingham though.

Make sure you have the seafood buffet starter...The prawns are worth the price alone

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A good bottle of Chateau Noaillac will get you through,  and decent cheese followed by scrummy deserts.... I have had some disappointing mains, but also some excellent ones in 2019, so no despair,        yet.

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I travel on BF 12 times a year, have done so for the last decade and normally eat in the more formal restaurants. Over that time the food standards have reduced and what used to be great French quality in the basics has gone - the bread is now awful, where it used to be superb.

Change the Customer Services Director, Sawdays gain was our loss.

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On 28/01/2020 at 14:21, Cabin-boy said:

Nowadays you can see plumes of smoke rising from the burning barricades well before France appears on the horizon. It's all part of the holiday experience. 

That's not been our experience,  Perhaps you arrive after all the fireworks for Bastille Day?  We rather enjoy them. 

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On 30/01/2020 at 11:48, Jooles said:

I travel on BF 12 times a year, have done so for the last decade and normally eat in the more formal restaurants. Over that time the food standards have reduced and what used to be great French quality in the basics has gone - the bread is now awful, where it used to be superb.

 

I don't go into la Flora  for gastrofood - I just like the ambiance, tne style and the attentive staff. They let me practise my French ready for the journey ahead and on Thursday nights out of Plymouth before they go ashore in the morning they tell me how their week on board has gone - " lundi il y avait une  tempete" etc.  Style matters for me. I utterly dislike the queue with a wobbly tray at the canteen cash desk.

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On 28/01/2020 at 16:57, colin said:

 

Les Abers and le Flora mains seem to have got more left field,  straying away from classics, and I think the results are too frilly and often disappointing.

Precisely - sums up the point of my original post.

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