Restaurant JM Couron

Restaurant JM Couron

2nd March 2024

Bonjour from Port Chalmers.

Our January update produced some complimentary comments on the new web site, plus several enquiries, but we suspect that many of you will not have delved through our News Pages to the old restaurant reviews.  We thoroughly enjoyed looking back through the old newsletters to find places still going strong and getting good reviews, so have continued and pasted below a bargain-priced, Michelin-starred restaurant that is worth a detour to Nevers.  Today, they still have one Michelin star, a two course lunch menu at 28€, a three course vegetarian menu at 33€ and a four course dinner menu at 41.50€, plus a gourmet menu and la carte, of course, for the big spenders from Paris.

"February 2008 - Loire/Burgundy - JM Couron, 21 rue St Etienne, Nevers

Restaurant JM Couron, with a well deserved Michelin star, is the best restaurant in Nevers, offering beautiful food, an impressive cellar and impeccable service. With three miniscule dining rooms, it feels like a private dining club.  We were shown to a table in a lovely little room with a vaulted ceiling, which was formerly part of the cloisters of the adjacent church. 

There are three dinner menus at Couron; an amazingly low one at 19.95 euros, a very good value one for 4 courses at 29 euros and a 44.95 euro degustation menu.  We chose the middle one, but were also able to observe closely (but subtly) the dishes of the 19.95 menu as they arrived at the neighbouring table.  Their three courses began with a good looking chicken and vegetable terrine, followed by an equally attractive fish dish, then a dessert of fresh peaches on a biscuit base with a garnish of fromage frais.  Simple, but beautifully presented food.  (One of the things I admire and cherish about French restaurants is that diners ordering the cheapest menu and a modest wine are treated with the same care and attention as big spenders having the champagne, lobster and foie gras. This may have or may not have something to do with the Egalite bit of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, but in our experience it’s very unusual to get a snooty response to ordering a simple meal.)   

Our four course menu was preceded by an amuse bouche of beetroot puree with smoked herring - a delicious and novel combination, worth trying at home.  The first course proper was another stylish combination - shitake mushroom broth, with chicken liver pate melting appealingly on hot toast, topped with sesame seed - full of earthy flavours and contrasting textures.  Robert chose the equally impressive rabbit rillettes on leeks, with a punchy orange puree and a smear of balsamic vinegar.  The main course of roast lamb nuggets came with with a disc of crushed potato revved up with smoky bacon and a small puddle of sorrel puree. This was another winning combination of flavours, skillfully cooked and well presented.   There’s a emerging trend in French restaurants to serve the cheese course ready plated. It’s less wasteful and certainly simpler for waiters and customers. Here at Couron, they’ve gone for an intelligent compromise, bringing the cheese on two small trolleys, one with goat cheeses, the other has sheep & cow varieties. Crottin de Chavignol is a well-known local goat cheese, and here you can have it young, middle aged or elderly.  From the non-goat trolley you could chose from a small, well-chosen group including creamy Brillat-Savarin - a luscious little number with 75% fat and absolutely no chance of a Heart Foundation tick.  We finished with two contrasting puddings - a creamy and delicate dish of pear stuffed with rice cooked with coconut, and a powerful chocolate creation with generous lumps of ganache sandwiched between crisp chocolate biscuits and garnished with chocolate sauce.  Almost, but not quite, too much, for a dedicated chocolate lover. 

This is a very fine restaurant, the cooking is distinctive and original, the service is smooth, knowledgeable and friendly and the atmosphere is warm and intimate. We loved it and we’ll be returning to Restaurant JM Couron on our September escorted tour.

We originally visited the restaurant as part of our research for our 2008 escort tour when we explored the Brionnais region of the Upper Loire and then cruised the canal from Dompierre, following the Loire to Nevers and on to the Sancerrois vineyards.  Locaboat offer rental boats from Dompierre and Le Boat and Canalous have bases at Decize, while Nicols is based in Plagny, outside Nevers.  Get back to us if you want to know more about the boating opportunities in the Loire, or anywhere in France.

The Walking Party is looking for walkers to top up the Transhumance walk in May and the St James Way and Haut Quercy walks in September.  James points out that the prices are all-inclusive and that the Walking Party prides itself on its generosity.   All our clients confirm that, saying that the walks far exceeded their expectations.  Please get in touch if you would like a summary of James' fully-escorted walks, or the detailed itineraries.

We look forward to helping you create a bespoke trip to France (and beyond). Robert & Barbara