France - - Contents -

Head to the north and sam­ple the local spe­cial­i­ties of Pas-de-calais .

The town of Ar­ras is a car­ni­vore’s par­adise, with beef tak­ing cen­tre stage on many menus, and the sur­round­ing coun­try­side of Hauts-de-france be­ing home to large herds of cat­tle, es­pe­cially the fa­mous Bleue du Nord breed.

Meat-lovers are cer­tainly well catered for at Assiette au Boeuf, where – as the name sug­gests – all the main dishes con­sist of beef (with one ex­cep­tion for fish-eaters). The panoramic win­dows look out on to the re­built baroque build­ings of Grand’place, while a ter­race puts din­ers at the heart of this im­pres­sive open square.

The in­te­rior is light and spa­cious, with a con­tem­po­rary, pared-back decor far re­moved from a tra­di­tional res­tau­rant. A mir­ror fills the back wall, rem­i­nis­cent of an Amer­i­can diner, but the sparkling cut­lery and glass­ware add a more up­mar­ket feel.

On my visit, a nicely sea­soned wal­nut and parme­san salad, coated in a fra­grant olive oil, acted as a cur­tain-raiser to the main event: a choice of beef – grilled, fried or tartare – served with a spicy-butsweet ‘sauce par­adis’. My grilled and sliced sir­loin steak was juicy and flavour­some, while the ac­com­pa­ny­ing all-you-can-eat chips were just as they should be - crisp and salty.

For a re­fresh­ing fi­nale, I chose ‘Caribbean ca­resses’, a lime and pineap­ple con­fec­tion with co­conut whipped cream, from a menu of play­fully ti­tled desserts. Open daily noon-2.30pm, 7-11pm. Set menus from €11.90. 56 Grand Place, 62000 Ar­ras Tel: (Fr) 3 21 15 11 51 assi­et­­rants/ar­ras

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