Highlights in/near Nantes?
I'll be in Nantes for work, and I will hopefully have some leisure time to explore the area. Any and all culinary (and otherwise!) recommendations are welcome -- a few good places for lunch and dinner would be great (say 50 euro per person for dinner, ballpark), as well as wine shops, cheesemongers, or anything else you think is worth making a point of visiting while in the area.
Thanks for any advice!
In July Colette and I spent 5 days in Brittany leaving and returning to Rennes which are reported in full on my site but in brief:
Les Carmes in Rennes was open at Saturday lunch and was a more-or-less forced choice but it turned out to be a wonderful one.
I expected it to be a small, dingy bistro but it was glistening and modern with a nice menu.
The amuse gueule was a luscious cream of courgettes with smoked salmon bits; the bread was a hit.
For firsts, Colette had a petit pois soup with shredded crab and I had the sautéed sardines with zucchini spaghetti – good stuff all.
We both had a sort of fish cake composition of langoustine tails with a chickpea puree, carrots, leeks and onions. Terrific.
The only disappointments were the desserts – microtomed pineapple “raviolis” of chocolate and a “parfait” with mini-peach halves.
With a bottle of Cotes du Rhone, no bottled water and extremely poor coffee, our bill was 88 E.
I only know Nantes in passing and from a few business trips. But I have always been impressed with the quality of its restaurants and food scene. So a few recs. 1) Although maybe the style is a little too sleek and the cuisine a bit too "precieuse" for visitors attuned to the cutesy, l'Un.i (and yes, there is a silly period there) on the rue Fouré is the hot table of the moment. I've eaten here 2 or 3 times for lunch (a bargain!) and found it delish with the one exception of a sort of an "interesting" lightly curried compote for desert. 2) At the other end of the spectrum, the historic art-deco gem La Cigale on the place Graslin has a very trad menu... the cuisine is decent but, like all brasseries, is best enjoyed if you limit yourself to fruits de mer or steak tartare (excellent here!). 3) The fish-heavy l'Océanide on the rue Paul-Bellamy at the quai de Versailles probably qualifies as my fave even if its plateau of fabulous fruits de mer has to be ordered in advance... the chef was trained by Pierre Gagnaire so he knows his stuff... a little on the pricey side for Nantes (but not for Paris), you can still get a great dinner for 50 € incl wine and less than 30 € for lunch. 4) The evening-only cave à manger La Comédie des Vins on the rue Suffren just off the rue J-J Rousseau is a great after-work pitstop.
For more wine, cheese etc, the covered Marché Talensac is open Tue to Sun mornings and has a great selection. Even bigger, the open-air weekly Marché Petite-Hollande (Saturday mornings) on the Ile de la Gloriette near the quai de la Fosse balloons to about 300 stallholders in the summer but shrinks to "only" 100 to 150 in the winter... I counted 11 cheese stalls on my last visit there in September...always a fun place.
This week's L'Express had a review by Francois-Regis Gaudry of Les Bouteilles, 11, rue de Bel-Air, Nantes (Loire-Atlantique), 02-40-08-27-65. Closed Sundays, Mondays and Saturday lunch. He's usually pretty accurate.
There is an excellent patisserie that sells a Kouign-Amann that is excellent in a old Mallish structure just at the western end of downtown. It is part of a Brittany chain of this maker
And while not food related the Musee des Beaux-Artes in Nantes has a set of three Georges de La Tour stunners, the pride of their museum.