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Le New Port Snack Bar, Port Plaisance, Colombiers, France: Restaurant Review

Not far past the town of Colombiers, a couple of dozen kilometers away from us in Quarante, stands Brico Marche, the local equivalent of Home Depot. We travel there often to purchase shelving and hardware and such while we've been setting up housekeeping here in France. Going through Colombiers, you can't help but notice that the town has used its positioning on the Canal du Midi to great advantage. Relatively new and refined port facilities greet the recreational boater with restaurants and shopping, camp grounds, and other amenities. An amphitheater faces the Canal and, on a recent weekend night, saxophonist Pierre Schirrer et l'Orchestre Louisiana performed a free New Orleans jazz concert, playing the music of Sidney Bichet and Louis Armstrong from an old post boat anchored in the Canal. Our friends Simon and Julia invited us to join them for dinner and the show. So follows my review of Le New Port Snack Bar.

Le New Port benefits from its overview of the port, both from inside the glass-enclosed bar/dining area and from the outdoor patio with its bright blue and white striped awnings. It's simply a pleasant space, a place to spend an hour or more lingering over a midday meal.

We didn't see the full menu. Because of the concert, everyone was anticipated to come charging in at the same time. Limited choices were available. For starters, one could choose either a full plate of  garden salad sprinkled with little chunks of cheese that looked a lot like cheddar or else a wedge of country terrine (coarse pate), a couple of thin slices of smoked ham, and a small, less complex side salad. I chose the latter as did the two ladies. We were all pleased. Simon chose the salad and enjoyed the cheese.

For our main course, the choices were either shrimp (in the shells) or duck (braised with olives) with rice or frites on the side.The ladies went for the shrimp, Simon and I took the duck, only Julia chose the rice, and all was satisfactory. The shrimp were a good size and well seasoned. The duck was braised properly without being falling-apart mushy, completely infused with the fresh olives. And the French know their frites.

For dessert, the men had ice cream, Cathey had fruit salad, and Julia tried the fromage blanc, cheese just this side of yogurt. Just OK for all.

The service was cheerful and as responsive as was reasonable given the full house. With a couple of carafes of wine and coffee for Julia and me, we dropped just under 100 Euros. That's a bit much for a fairly simple set menu except for the fact that we had comfortable seats for a concert and stayed for over three hours.

In the final analysis, I'd only choose Le New Port for this type of event. Perfectly satisfactory. But I wouldn't choose to stop for a meal here under ordinary circumstances. Too many fine little cafes in the region offer surprisingly fine dining to have to settle for bar food that's just satisfactory.

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