I couldn’t help but notice a common mysterious item on almost every restaurant menu in Lille: The Welsh. One restaurant was even called “Le Well Welsh” and served a variety of Welshes. As we searched for a lunch spot on the last day of our Lille weekender, we found a beautiful small restaurant right around the corner from our hotel whose menu was the first to offer a description of the Welsh: bear-soaked bread with mustard, ham, a fried egg and 200 grams of cheddar cheese. The description the got my tastebuds tingling so without any hesitation we took a seat inside.
We were one of the first guests there but the place filled up very quickly and before we knew it people were being turned away and told to come back at a later. We took this as a good sign! I didn’t bother looking at anything else on the menu, there was only one thing on my mind, and that was to try the Welsh. Luckily for me the Welsh was served with fries, which are the pride of Les Ptiots – 100% home made and cooked in beef fat. Yum.
Our waiter came out of the kitchen holding two giant plates of food and a big smile on his face. The dishes looked amazing. Served in a large ceramic baking dish, the sunny side up egg was sitting on top of a huge layer of melted cheese and I couldn’t wait to devour it. The Welsh was out-of-this-world good. I admit it would be hard to go wrong with ham, cheese and bread. But the combination with beer, mustard and fried egg was right up my alley. Not to mention the fries, which were excellent (and could rival some of the best I’ve tried in Belgium).
The dish was surprisingly not as heavy as it looked. Once I’d finished everything under the cheese, I added what was left of my fries to the baking dish and created my own cheese fries with the leftover cheddar. Yummo. I was in heaven!
Les Ptiots is regional French slang for “the kiddies”. It’s a fitting name for this restaurant, which brought me back to my childhood with its take on the Welsh. I felt like I was experiencing a grown-up version of the ham and cheese toastie – a giant deconstructed version with the addition of some adults-only alcohol and a hint of seeded mustard to cater for a more sophisticated palette.
I have to admit that it was absolutely delicious. I was glad to find that the ham jutting out from under the cheese was not just some processed pre-packaged ham, but real off-the-bone ham. In the end though, the Welsh proved to be too much for me to handle and I was left with a puddle of seasoned cheese on my plate. Merv was only too eager to help me out with that, using his fries and bread to scrape up every last bit of the melted cheddar.
When the waiter reappeared to clear our empty dishes and asked if we would like to see the dessert menu, I told him that the Welsh was so filling I wouldn’t be able to fit any thing else in. He seemed amused at my surprise that it had been such a heavy meal. He reminded me that there was 200 grams of cheese in it, after all. Good point!
Restaurant Les Ptiots
35 Rue du Gand, 59800 Lille