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Jun 8, 2011 01:13 PM

La Cagouille

If you want to run a restaurant that pretty much does 100+ covers every time you open the doors the formula is quite simple…open up in a daggy part of the Montparnasse, buy the best quality seafood, cook it to perfection and offer big name white Burgs with some bottle age on them at retail prices.

There is only one restaurant that we make sure we return to every trip to Paris and it is La Cagouille. We arrived on a perfect Paris spring day, hit the terrace and ordered a bottle of Chateldon and a 2000 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet. The Leflaive poured out a light colour with a green hue and was fresh, bursting with white peach aromas and flavours and underpinned by a bed of geological matter. It was rich yet restrained and finished both precise and long. There’s just a hint of toasty devlopment sneaking in.

A complimentary bowl of pippies cooked just till they open and then doused liberally with butter is one of life’s great treats. Heidi’s entrée of calamari with fried garlic and red onion is one of life’s other great treats. The calamari was sweet and perfectly cooked and worked beautifully with the onion and garlic, both of which were caramelised perfectly without being over-charred or maintaining any residual bitterness. This is a dish that may indeed make my list of world’s best beer snacks, should I ever partake in it with a beer that is.

My starter of freshly shucked ‘Pousse de Claire’ oysters from grower David Herve were sensational, tasting of nothing but the sea. I have to profess that I have never hit the beach on a mission to taste the sea, but having been dumped at Margaret River as I hit a wave a little too big for my capabilities on my Morey Mach 77 boogie board 25 years ago, I think I know what it tastes like.

Whole fish for both Heidi and I for main course. Heidi’s flounder was simply grilled, sporting perfect criss cross char action on its skin and housing the most succulent, pure white wondrous flesh. My St Pierre (John Dory) was treated to the same perfect grilling but was resting in a sensuous pool of beurre blanc. Accompanying potatoes with shallots were delicious and a green salad with vinaigrette was a study in putting the vinegar back into vinaigrette but worked very well with the fish.

Desserts here are good as was testimony by Heidi’s excellent sorbets of strawberry and raspberry served with a delightful honey laden Madeline. I opened for a small cheese plate featuring three little beauties from Brebis de la ferme Seguin, Le Pitchounet, Le Bleu de Severac and La Tomme des Grande Causses. A cheeky little half of 2007 Thierry et Pascale Matrot Puligny-Montrachet ‘Les Chalumeaux’ proved to be not so cheeky and was a little more reeky, reeky of all thing oxidative that is (think grilled nuts and fino sherry).

Coffee here is Illy and is good. If you are a Cognac or Armagnac fan they also have quite a brilliant range at prices that wont hurt you.


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  1. WOW! Merci bien. I love La Cagouille, but it's been a few years since I've been there. Nice to know it's as good as ever. ;)

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      @ jeremyholmes

      Did you send the 2007 Puligny back?

      1. re: allende

        No, by the time the oxidation notes really showed up we were half way through the bottle. I have had no problems in the past here sending wine back, last year a 2000 Vincent Dancer Chevalier-Montrachet was oxidised and replaced with a minimum of fuss.

    2. Just for the sake of my translating skills, what fish did you order which you're translating as "flounder"? There is no flounder on the French coasts.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Ptipois

        Sorry Ptipois, can't remember what it was listed as on the chalkboard, looked like what we would call a flounder.

        1. re: jeremyholmes

          It was either a carrelet or plie (plaice), a limande (dab), or a limande sole (lemon sole). Couldn't have been a sole (Dover sole) since you'd have mentioned it. Or perhaps it was a small flétan (flounder) but that is a very rare sight indeed. More likely a small barbue (brill), or even a small turbot (turbotin). These are all the flatfish we have.

          In no way could it have been a flounder, which is found only on the West Atlantic coast as a commercial fish, which is why I asked.

            1. re: jeremyholmes

              Likely. Chefs like to serve a "barbue portion" (individual size), it's a recent trend. I'm sure it was delicious and from your description it does look like barbue.

              1. re: Ptipois

                We were there in May and had a wonderful experience. We enjoyed the free amuse bouche of tiny snails that needed to be pulled from their shells. Also loved the lightly fried anchovies and tiny shrimp as appetizers. The fish entrees were perfectly prepared as well. We were fine with our wine choice so would highly recommend this restaurant if you are a fish or seafood lover.

                1. re: hopegoode

                  IIRC, La Cagouille ONLY serves fish and seafood, so if you have one person in your party who won't/can't eat that, then this isn't a good choice.