OOH la la - Solihull High Street had a taste of France this week when shoppers were encouraged to sample some slippery customers ahead of National Escargot Day (May 24).
Cafe Rouge in the town centre is serving up snails to celebrate the gallic event until May 31. Customers need shell out just £4.95 for a tasty portion of molluscs in a variety of sauces including rich garlic butter, melted goat’s cheese and spinach and mushroom.
Last year, a record number of people in Solihull sampled snails, with the dishes selling out. This year Cafe Rouge has shipped in over 34,000 snails to ensure everyone gets a bite of the limited edition menu.
Caroline Réveillon from Café Rouge said snails have a texture very similar to sushi or lobster: “Gastro-delights don’t often come cheap but those with gourmet tastes can snap up a snail dish for less than a fiver. Last year people came out of their shells to try them, with a mixed response. This year, on our 20th birthday, we’re hoping to win over Solihull residents once and for all!
Those watching their waistlines will be pleased to hear the humble snail is highly nutritious, being low in fat and high in magnesium and protein. “
Reporters Cathrina Hulse and Rebekah Borg took to the High Street and asked passers by to sample the French delicacy which we served in a chestnut, mushroom, garlic, cream and spinach sauce.
June McQuaide was unsure about the taste test at first but then gave our dish a resounding thumbs up. “I’ve never had snails,” said the Kings Heath resident. “But it’s really tasty. Of course that could be down to the extra ingredients. My husband Harold wouldn’t like them - he’s a fish and chips man. There’ll be no kissing today!”
Shopper Pat Lea decided our snails were not as chewy as she expected. Pat from nearby Park Road said “I did like it. But there’s nothing really to dislike about it. I would eat it again but it would depend what else was on the menu.”
Impressing us with a smattering of French, Brian Sprayson from Warwick was keen to try our snails. Brian who once lived in Solihull for 28 years was pleasantly surprised. “I’ve not had them before but if you eat shellfish - mussells, winkles - then it’s similar. It’s nice.”
Game to try the molluscs was Stechford resident Chris Whitehall. Enjoying a morning shopping in Solihull, he too had never tasted snails. “I am a bit disappointed because the garlic is overpowering. But it’s nice, it’s very mushroomy. I would definitely eat a dish of that.”
So it seems that l’escargots - in Solihull at least - get the thumbs up. Frogs legs anyone?
Café Rouge’s snail menu is available until 31st May, while stocks last. For more information, visit www.caferouge.co.uk