Bertrand, Théophile: who are you? Can you introduce yourselves, please?
Manager of the Septime, Clamato, La Cave and D’une île restaurants
Restaurateur and co-founder of Septime, Clamato, La Cave and D’une île.
Who does what in your duo?
I’m in charge of everything that can be eaten, as well as of the kitchen teams and of communication. Theo is in charge of everything that’s drinkable. He also oversees service and looks after decoration and management. But we make all our big decisions together! Naturally, we always have our teams to help us.
Does art – where you started out – still influence your cuisine?
My initial experience in graphic art has undoubtedly given me ideas that have served me well throughout my apprenticeship in the kitchen and in my profession as a restaurateur. But I like to differentiate and even contrast art and what I am doing now by thinking of us as craftsmen.
What is the link between your different addresses – Septime – Septime Cave – Clamato and Une Île?
Our approach to service and cuisine, which is basically the same. It’s just the format that’s different. But, beyond that common thread lies our strong and lasting commitment to a cuisine that is both rooted in its time and steeped in tradition, with naturally produced wines served in surroundings with atmospheres designed to suit different tastes.
Values, a shared long-term commitment. They are different and evolving playing fields.
How did you acquire this property in the Perche? Was it a coincidence that triggered this new opening?
Théo went there in a personal capacity a few years ago. The former owners, a Dutch couple, loved the Septime restaurant. They happened to share their wish to sell it and move on to something else while they were asking us for advice. Finally, after talking about the place, we decided to go and see it. We fell in love at first sight! It was a bit of a coincidence, and it came at a time when we had a conscious need for a new playground coupled with an unconscious need to go green.
I discovered the place several years ago. The former owners, who wanted to move on, came to see me in the first instance to find out how to sell the property. A few months later, although we had never considered it before, D’une île appeared to be a logical and coherent way for us to go.
What can we do at D’une île?
D’une île is Septime‘s country home. You can come here to relax in the charming rooms, there is a very good restaurant and inn, you can stroll around the estate or in the Perche forest, and enjoy the sauna and the region in general!
It’s a place to come for a break. This is our ideal home in the country. You can potter around on the estate, go to the flea markets in the area, have breakfast, lunch, tastings and dinner on site, and then drink aperitifs while the children play in the cabin and on the trampoline. You can have a sauna and enjoy the forest and the sunset at the same time. In short, you can reconnect.
After a few months spent in Rémalard-en-Perche, what have you discovered about the region and its treasures?
The Perche Natural Park is a place with a very strong identity. It is home to committed producers, with a real wilderness dimension, it’s a breeding ground for some amazing products.
The entire menu is based on local products. We don't work with olive oil, no citrus fruits. All our products come from producers and surrounding markets no farther away than Sarthe or Normandy.
How do you handle them, do you promote them?
The entire menu is based on local products. For example, we don’t work with olive oil, no citrus fruits. All our products come from producers and surrounding markets no farther away than Sarthe or Normandy. It is a positive constraint that forces us to be creative. We cook according to our general philosophy, quite raw and predominantly vegetable-based but more oriented towards the bistro repertoire, rustic and old-fashioned cuisine such as poultry baked in hay in a cast-iron casserole, roasted leeks with buttermilk and so on.
Who’s in the kitchen here?
At D’une île we have a team of three, all of whom were previously at Septime, all versatile cooks who are also gardeners, bakers and waiters. Théo and I call in regularly to create menus, discuss wine lists and facilities.
What’s one discovery you’ve made here that’s had an impact on you?
The real discovery is having, for the first time, designed a menu for a restaurant that is particularly deeply rooted in the natural environment. The close proximity between the products and the plates speaks for itself!
The light, the tastes, the time spent here all have a different resonance.
What would you like to develop over the coming months?
We’re quite happy with what we’ve managed to do in a year with the restaurant. We’re still working on making more and more homemade products (charcuterie, butter, cheese) and making our vegetable garden more and more productive. From the point of view of the hotel, we’ve just created a living room and an additional bedroom. There are still some areas of the buildings and the property that can be converted, that’s still under discussion. We’d like to develop some community spirit, so that people understand that this is not really a hotel but Septime‘s country home!
To spark a new approach to hospitality here, by redefining some of the conventions of the hotel industry, some of which are based on luxury, others on our day-to-day approach. We’re keen to continue raising awareness among teams, our customers and as many people as possible about drinking well and eating well, with a sense of awareness and involvement. But we’d never lecture them, of course!
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily