A month ago, I was lucky to be a guest at the Mont-à-Gourmet, the restaurant owned by Arnaud Hamoline and headed by Chef Nicolas Tournay. I had never tried it but was already familiar with their work, looking at their taste for local and seasonal produces. This positive vibe was confirmed one enjoyable evening.
For the love of good things
Arnaud Hamoline is not unknown in the region of Gouy-Les-Piétons. Son of Alain Hamoline, a famous food supplier, he became the director of the family restaurant in 2015, wanting to turn it in a gastronomic destination. Arnaud, who is the manager, hired a chef to take on this new project. Nicolas Tournay went onboard with his love of regional ingredients, a determination to avoid culinary pedantry and a desire to be close to his customers.
Wanting to leave the people at the heart of the project, both men took the decision to put the substance before the form, the taste over Instagram. It is not to say that their dishes are not carefully presented, far from it, but this is the kind of food that prioritises balance and taste.
Plates of quality ingredients
The menu sampled was a great exercise of raw power and pleasure. Technic is often glorified in today’s cuisine, but it is too often mistaken with cheap technological demonstrations. Our chef trained at the Prieuré Saint-Géry and the Gré du Vent, places where he learned well-anchored traditions. His food is a demonstration of balance and construction.
A destination, a greeting
I really love restaurants anchored in small villages. The Mont-à-Gourmet, on the main square, is one of those typical places. A charming house nested on a corner is both charming and challenging; the kitchen is small but the main room offers pleasant dim lights. It feels good to sit at the table and enjoy relaxed but efficient waiters. The lack of sommelier was not noticed as the lady who served us was knowledgeable and professional. The cheese chariot at the end was stunningly presented and gave a sense of drama at the end of a memorable evening.
The plate of the evening was without a doubt the crust of courgette topping a filet of white fish. Pouring the shellfish reduction on top was a moment of pure pleasure. Sumptuous tomatoes were served several times during the evening, a gesture that proves how deeply this kitchen is connected to the land. The lobster was another beautiful dish enhanced by a selection of stunning aromatic herbs.
Going out after having had a long chat with Arnaud and Nicolas, I was thinking about my evening and was hoping that their project will continue to evolve. Their philosophy is coherent and their restaurant is a pleasure, far from gimmicks and fashion, far from trying to replicate famous chefs. This kitchen is their own and deserves to be followed, both by gastronomes and guides. Well done.