Le Coquillage | Jane and Olivier Roellinger | Restaurant | Cancale | Natural wine | Brittany | France

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Le Coquillage
Restaurants and bars
Location: 48.643146,-1.87127
Open: Breakfast and dinner daily
Price: Expensive

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Address: Les Maisons de Bricourt
Country: France

Le Coquillage is Jane and Olivier Roellinger's restaurant at Maison de Bricourt overlooking the Bay of Biscay in the pleasant seaside town of Cancale.
Driving along the shore through Saint-Benoit des Ondes gives you a glimpse of what is in store at Le Coquillage. Trays of unopened oysters line the street and oyster sheds right on the beach provide an indication of the importance of this industry to the local area. While not as extensive as at Oleron to the south, no-one can doubt the quality of the oysters plucked from the cold Atlantic seas here.
Les Maisons de Bricourt is on the outskirts of Cancale occupying a favoured site on a headland near the town. As you approach through the imposing gates a driveway sweeps up towards this imposing building. Once inside the mood is relaxed and friendly. The staff are well-trained and eager for your stay to be a pleasant one.
The dining room has stunning views out over the bay and when the fog drifts in and blankets the cliffs in white then the comfort felt in the wood-panelled dining room is raised to new heights. We sipped on a glass of the local cider called Royal Guillevic made from the slightly-tart apple of the same name. This was a very good drink with a pure, clean taste and lovely small bubbles that lasted well in the glass.
Good dark-crusty bread baked in the in-house wood-fired oven and served in a wicker basket with lovely local butter anticipates the bounty of this area.
A tiny skewer of mackerel and a spoon of smoked salmon accompanied by a tiny biscuit whetted the appetite while we considered the menu.
We spied a wine of some distinction on the wine list that is very hard to find and, as it was nearly local coming from the Saumur appellation we decided to try it with the seafood that we knew was to be served. Clos Rougeard is well-known for its elegant red wines crafted from old-vine Cabernet Franc, but they also make very small quantities of a delicious organic white wine from Chenin Blanc which is also in the Saumur appellation from a vineyard near the village of Breze.
We started with six creuse oysters and three flat oysters from the bay of Cancale that we could see through the window. These were fresh, briny and delicious. Also delicious was a dish of small clams with garlic and parsley that had been cooked 'in the fire'. They had deep flavour and a layer of smokiness that was most appealing. A dozen of these gems came to the table in a flat copper pan in which they had been cooked.
We had ordered a local lobster served Cancalaise-style and earlier in the meal a live lobster had been carried to the table for our approval. Now it came back in an altered state with the body split in half and served on a flat white plate and the claws presented in a copper saucepan that also contained sweet, steamed potatoes. This was a rich and delicious course.
Another good main course was the dense wood-roasted pigeon with a richly-flavoured brown sauce.
Then came a tray of some fourteen beautifully matured cheeses. We each chose three and each was deftly plated and paired with a relish or other condiment that seemed to enhance its flavour. This was like an instant version of a Keller or Rodgers composed cheese course.
With the desserts we were blown away by a match of a simple citrus tart with an Arbois Vin Jaune, 2000 from Michel Gauthier. It was superb and showed of both the skill of the chef and the skill of the winemaker.
The next morning we enjoyed a lovely breakfast, snacking on locals Breton crepes and more bread from the wood-fired oven slathered with the local butter once again. All this while watching the mist slowly lift over the bay.
This is a great venue with a calm, almost serene atmosphere. We look forward to the next visit.

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