Over the four years since we have known Le Nicol's, in the heart of St Val, we have seen it change. Our first meal some four or five years ago was a treat, great food and wine with attentive service, but over the next couple of years we were disappointed and after two more tries looked elsewhere when we wanted to really treat ourselves.This month we decided to go back, with some young friends who were visiting, because the establishment has had a complete physical makeover in the last year or so and we wanted to see if the overall experience of a meal there had returned to its original standards. On the whole we decided that it has. The interior decor is in a (slightly old fashioned) smart bistro style, with polished wood and comfortable upholstered bench seating etc (and they have tables outside - in the road - when weather permits). The service is bustling, efficient and bright and the overall experience was good. By chance we all ate fish, but there was a good range of meat dishes too. The Marmite (four different fish and a few moules cooked together in a strong shell fish jus) was unusually served on a platter rather than in a bowl, which really worked. Excellent freshness and flavour. Good wine (not cheap of course). My partner had a good cheese course but I thought the desserts (Pain Perdu in my case) did not match the standard of the other dishes we ate. Overall though we felt we had eaten well and even though we all had an apero and coffee (and did not all choose the lower priced menu) the final bill was still reasonable at €40 per head. After this experience we will be happy to eat here again from time to time, and when guests at La Maison Forestiere (our B and B not far from St Val) ask us for a recommendation for somewhere a little more haute de gamme we shall be comfortable to suggest Le Nicol's.
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