On a sunny Saturday we entered La Mandale, located on a quiet yet buzzing street of Nantes. An art gallery down the street, an illustration and ceramic workshop across the road, and colourful terraces on the pavement of this pedestrian street, give a relaxed vibe to the area. La Mandale offers French cuisine mainly using locally-sourced produce, with great attention to the plate settings. The team welcomes you in a casual and friendly way and directs you to intimate tables for two, or can arrange large dining tables for groups.
The chef proposes a short selection of dishes for lunch, for you to pick 2 starters, 3 mains and 2 desserts - always a meat, fish and veggie option to choose from. The food is fresh and changes regularly depending on the season and market funds. The service is efficient and informal, and the food is well-presented and well-described by the wait staff.
The seasoning especially is really well done, slightly citrusy, with Asian touches. Also, some elements that could pass for decorative, actually bring interesting textures and a balance to the dish. The grilled bread crumbs dipped in squid’s ink, for example, were smoky and crunchy, perfect with the smooth gazpacho.
Regarding the interior, the overall space seems really paired back, with great pieces of furniture, like the utilitarian vintage ‘secrétaire’ used as the service station. Planting and dried flower bouquets are punctuating the room and create a homely feel. The map on the wall, industrial lighting and vintage chairs, also gives a ‘back to school’ atmosphere to the dining room. The open kitchen continues to highlight the intention of being close to the customers.
The restaurant is lively, evolving, decorated along the way, depending on time of the year and available time to do so. Indeed, La Mandale is quite often busy for lunch and dinner and it is preferable to book in advance. The low price of the lunch menu (max 17,50€ for starter, main and dessert) attracts equally locals and visitors. If the team wasn’t busy enough, they often organise or participate in the street’s life, with tapas event served on the street, to enjoy the summer evening breeze with other shops and restaurant’s clientele all together.