A trip to Normandy

Saturday, July 18th , 2015

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Sa Qua Na in the port of Honfleur is a restaurant run by chef/patron Alexandre Bourdas and his wife. Mr Bourdas was previously head chef of the superb Michel Bras restaurant in Toya, which has surely the most spectacular setting of any restaurant in the world (it is in a solitary building perched on the rim on a volcano, looking out over a lake in the volcano’s crater, with the Pacific ocean on the opposite side). The cooking reflects both the excellent local seafood and the precision that Mr Bourdas picked up in Japan. The food is lovely here, with for example a gorgeous dish of top quality sea bream, beautifully combining different textures from grated cauliflower and wheat with terrific chermoula with deep herb flavour. This has two Michelin stars but I would have no issue at all if it had a third.

Comptoir et la Table is a simple restaurant right on the harbour of Deauville in Normandy. As you might hope given the location, fish features heavily on the menu, and a turbot with ginger was very pleasant. A risotto with scallops was also quite nice, the good shellfish better than the rather densely textured rice. Other dishes were not quite to the same level, but it was an enjoyable enough experience, and the wines were well priced.

Thomieux in Paris is a brasserie that until recently was run by Jean-Francois Piege but has recently been taken over by ex two star Michelin chef Sylvestre Wahid. The décor features the classical mirrors and red banquettes, and the waitresses were welcoming. The food was enjoyable, with for example a salad using much higher quality tomatoes than we would see in the UK. Confit salmon was also good, a modern take on lemon tart pleasant. The bread, bought in from a top Parisien baker, was superb.

If planning a trip to Normandy from the UK, bear in mind that getting there is fiddly. There are no direct flights on regular airlines, though there is a Ryanair flight from Stanstead to Deauville (but not every day). There was also a summer-only flight from City Airport by Cityjet, and having booked this I was disappointed to find the entire route was cancelled shortly before we went. The alternative is to go to Paris and take a two-hour train ride from Gare St Lazare, or to drive and take a ferry across the channel.