Hello Hounds. Be gentle, this is my first time.
I'm planning to be in Normandy with my parents for the big D-Day anniversary. We're staying between Caen and Bayeux. I did my usual trick of looking at JRE.eu and came up empty. I looked here and didn't see much (and not much recent). So, any of you harboring recent info?
We tend to like Bib Gourmand/1*/interesting over 3*** fancy.
Here are the ones we're thinking of:
Chateau de Sully
A Contre Sens
La Ferme de la Ranconniere
La Marine in Arromanche
My go to in the region would be SaQuaNa in Honfleur, I missed it on my last trip and deeply regret not getting there. That said it maybe a little out of your way, if if your parents are not adventurous it maybe too extreme.
You'll be fine with any of these. Normandy restaurants are not the ones Le Fooding or Omnivore get hysterical about, but they take good care of their customers. Don't expect fancy platings and technoemotional stuff but plenty of excellent products, butter, cream, cheese and apples. Veal and chicken a must.
I have a fantastic memory of the veal chop in camembert sauce at Au P'tit Normand, in Cambremer.
By coincidence I am staying in Honfleur next week (and have a table booked at Sa Qua Na) so will update you on any noteworthy meals as soon as I am back. Particularly excited about Sa Qua Na the online praise for which seems fairly unanimous.
As promised my comments re Sa Qua Na are below. This is my first review on here so I would be very keen to hear feedback.
Sa Qua Na, Honfleur
Noting the seemingly unanimously rave reviews I looked forward to my meal at two Michelin starred Sa Qua Na with a great deal of excitement. I was not to be disappointed. The contextual lark has oft been written elsewhere but it is worth re-emphasising the fact that chef patron Alexandre Bourdas was a previous employee of iconic vegetrite Michel Bras, heading up his eponymous three starred Japanese outpost. The impacts of his mentor and his time in Japan appear to have been substantial.
The dining room was light, airy, modernist and the lack of vast, perfectly ironed table-clothes removed some of the intimidating formality that is so often imposed on the more renowned French institutions. The attitude of the staff was in keeping with the décor; friendly and professional without any aloofness.
Upon inspection of the menu and taking into account our budget, we settled upon the Rouge Cerise menu which at 75 Euros appeared to offer good value given the reputation of the restaurant and the number of courses provided. By ordering the cheaper of the two options you will see that merely a couple of courses are sacrificed and that you still receive courses that appear on the more expensive Vert Olive.
Shortly after sitting down and choosing our wine a trio of canapés arrived. All were effectively rice parcels albeit with different toppings of radishes, sardines and pork fat respectively. The sardine was the tastiest of the three and despite all having a pleasant crunch through the crispiness of the rice, none were really remarkable to the extent that there was any indication of the standard of the meal that was to follow.
The bread that was to arrive was superb and reminiscent of the now legendary Hedone sourdough. I understand this is baked at a local baker called Bles D’or who also happen to produce rather fantastic cakes (which we gorged ourselves on most mornings).
The next course was an additional amuse bouche in that once again it did not feature on the menu; an unusual pancake (was it savoury or sweet?) apparently a delicacy of the Averyon region. Having never experienced a pancake of this kind before was in no way a bad thing- it was fantastic.
The first course proper followed and was a triumph of balance of flavour and presentation. Steamed salmon sat beneath a stunningly arranged assortment of Japanese herbs and coastal vegetables alongside a poultry cream. Light, fresh and delicious.
The main fish dish was equally masterful; Grilled Pollack wrapped in cabbage with mash and aioli. Again, vegetables were of an exceptional standard and like the salmon, the somewhat smoky Pollack had been impeccably cooked. Exceptional.
The final savoury course; veal sweatbreads with leek, white and green asparagus and a citrus fruit I hadn’t heard of called ‘pomelo’. Beautifully presented and perfectly cooked again, the standard of cooking had by this point proved to us that we were eating the creations of a zen like master.
Having consumed a fine selection of French cheese and being whilst optimistic of the dessert, convinced that it would be unable to top the previous highs, we were once again astounded at the quality of the dish we received. Its seemingly simplistic presentation did not do justice to its majesty- air like in texture, chantilly cream topped with rose petals covered a delicious caramel and coffee sorbet centre which provided a richness that was not anticipated when savouring the first few spoonfuls of the cream. Superb.
Mignardises followed the dessert and were of high quality (particularly the gariguette strawbeeries).
To my mind this was some of the most supreme cooking I have so far experienced with an astounding sense of precision throughout the dishes. Referring back to the Japanese influence, there existed a noticeable lightness to many of the dishes and flavour combinations were also masterfully balanced. Sa Qua Na is well known for its cooking of fish (and deservedly so) but I also feel compelled to point out the exceptional quality of the vegetables used and the abundance of skill with which they were cooked. I will be keeping a close eye on next year’s Michelin results as I have no doubt that on cooking alone, Sa Qua Na must be a sure candidate for the highest possible accolade. Whether the tyre folk are in any way put off by its relative informality remains to be seen.
FYI The bill for dinner came to 186 Euros- this included two Rouge Cerise menus @ E75 each, a bottle of Langedoc-Roussillion @ E29 and E7 for one bottle of Evian water.
Hear, hear, well said. I enjoyed the review - I got a real sense of the restaurant, and now want to try it even more than before.
Only comment - maybe posting it in a separate thread with the name of the restaurant would have been good. It would highlight it more and make it simpler to find for others looking.
Thanks so much for taking me back to this sweet room. Our meal was completely different from yours while being exactly the same. We enjoyed one of those rare meals, a tasting menu with no low notes. Wine service was superb: one bottle lasted throughout our 3 1/2 hour lunch and our glasses were never empty.
Your notes are much better than mine, so I am grateful to join you for this delicious second sitting.
"The next course was an additional amuse bouche in that once again it did not feature on the menu; an unusual pancake (was it savoury or sweet?) apparently a delicacy of the Averyon region. Having never experienced a pancake of this kind before was in no way a bad thing- it was fantastic."
This was a pascade. I was as baffled by it as you until Ptipois explained it to me on another forum. If you want to explore them in more depth, Bourdas has opened a little place in Paris that serves almost nothing else, and called aptly La Pasdade.