Le Breard

7 Rue de Puits, Honfleur, France

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Other than Sa Qua Na there are no Michelin-starred restaurants in Honfleur, which has no shortage of tourist joints selling moules mariniere with frites and the like. There was, however, one bib gourmand place when we visited, so it seemed to be the best available bet. There were several separate dining areas, including one area with a skylight, but we sat in the front section. There was no a la carte, but a series of three different set menus. We opted for the “saveur” menu at €45, and drank St Aubin Créot 2009 at €55 for a wine you can buy retail for around €15.

The first hint of trouble came with an amuse bouche of salmon madeleine, an odd dish concept that also had dreadful texture; some celery puree in a shot glass was better, but the salmon was really, really bad (10/20). Tuna was served in three ways: the one where the kitchen had not intervened (carpaccio) was fine, but the grilled piece was grey, and the tempura was bizarre: they seemed to have taken a piece of makizushi style tuna sushi, complete with nori roll, and deep-fried the whole thing. The result was quite unpleasant, the tempura batter clumsy and the nori tasting quite strange after its frying (10/20).

My quail stuffed with chorizo was edible but was cooked for much too long, so the flesh had dried out; however the real problem was the fruits and vegetables with preserved ginger alongside it. This had a deeply unpleasant, bitter flavour that I prefer not to dwell on. The manageress noticed I had barely touched it, and inquired: I did not want to make a scene so just said that it was not to my taste. The reply was wonderful “perhaps, but it is nonethless very good indeed”. Out of curiosity I observed the expression on the face of another diner who had ordered the same thing when he tasted these fruits and vegetables: let’s just say that it appeared to be an expression between bewilderment and horror, which was exactly my expression when I tasted it (2/20).

Just to round things off, I had a soufflé, which managed to combine a number of unusual features. The top was leathery, almost crisp, the filling inside a mix of tasteless at the top combined with raw soufflé mix at the bottom. I took a couple of bites and stopped.   The manageress came over and again inquired as to the problem. My French is dismal, but the friend we were dining with speaks it fluently, so he explained the problems with the dish (which he had also ordered, with the same result). The manageress then proceeded, as I gathered later, to give him a lecture as to how we clearly had no understanding how a soufflé should taste, as the version prepared here was seemingly as close to perfection as could be found on this earth. I guess all those three star Michelin soufflés I have eaten must have all been made the wrong way all those years, being, you know, cooked through and having some flavour combined with a light, fluffy top. A leathery top and raw soufflé mix was, it seems, the correct way to go after all: silly me. Naturally, no adjustment was made to the bill, given that we had spurned so much of the flawless food here out of our sheer ignorance.

I have no idea what the local Michelin inspector was imbibing when he granted this train wreck of a restaurant a bib gourmand, but I wish I had drunk some of it.  If someone suggests eating here to you then all I can say is: run far, and run fast.

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User comments

  • Greg Brozeit

    I've been a long time fan of your site for years. Your reviews of the restaurants I have had the fortune to visit always seem to channel my sentiments. I haven't been to this one (and won't ever try it), but I just have to say that I reread this review occasionally because it always makes me laugh out loud. P.G. Wodehouse could not have written it any better. I have sent it to many friends to introduce them to your site (I also send them your eloquent reviews of Waldhotel Sonnora). My other favorite review for the humor is your review of the Windsor Court in New Orleans. As a native New Orleanian, all I can say is: spot on!

  • Kat cull- martin

    Loved this review, sounds truly awful! I have had atrocious luck with my limited eating experience in France, though I am sure that's partly my own fault for thinking the grubbier the place looks, the more 'authentic' it will be....

  • Adrian Turner

    My first comment to you, Mr Hayler, though I've been following & admiring your stuff for months. But what I want to say is this: I always treat the Michelin guide with suspicion. So many stars, so many disappointments!

  • Nick O

    Remarkable restraint!