Olivier Roellinger

1 Rue Duguesclin, Cancale, 35260, France

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Please be aware that in January 2009 Olivier Roellinger retired from cooking at the main restaurant, so these notes are largely of historical interest, though the restaurant continues in more casual form. 

The dining room is very pretty indeed, the main part being a conservatory looking out on to a lovely garden with a duck pond. There is a wooden floor and white walls, and a pleasing absence of music. Other than the garden view, there is nothing to distract from the food. Indeed this was the house where Olivier Roellinger was born and grew up (the house dates from 1760). His cooking is known for its use of spices, a rarity in French cooking.  

The wine list is lengthy and carefully chosen, with many fine producers. For example Alsace is well represented e.g. Trimbach Cuvee Frederich Emile 2003 was EUR (i.e. GBP 62 for a wine that retails at around GBP 23 in the UK), Madame Faller Riesling Schlossberg 2005 was listed at EUR 64 (GBP 50 for a wine that retails at GBP 24 in the UK). Bread is a choice of slices of white, rye and seaweed bread. These were excellent (19/20).

The amuse-bouche consisted of high quality diced vegetables on a potato crisp, avocado cream with tomatoes, and a little piece of excellent sea bass (19/20). This was followed by dazzlingly fresh sea bream with carrot and ginger, tender cuttlefish and artichoke, and a very good winkle (18/20 overall, but the sea bream was 20/20). I began with lobster, which was brought to the table in a bread basket to be introduced to us before meeting its fate in the kitchen. The lobster flesh was very tender (such a rarity) and cooked with a subtle mix of spices, these being very restrained so as to add a little interest to the dish but not in any way to detract or overpower the delicate the lobster (19/20). I also tasted a remarkable dish of uncooked John Dory served in four different ways (e.g. with Celtic mustard and ginger), an original and superb dish (20/20), A chlorophyll of petit pois with white asparagus was also intensely flavoured (19/20).

My main course was John Dory with a fine sauce involving 14 mainly Indian spices, and a little apricot chutney. The fish was perfect, and the sauce managed to show off the individual spice elements without at any point overpowering the flavour of the fish (20/20). Other main courses tried were magnificent turbot, beautiful baby sole and superb sea bass with leeks and prawns. 

Cheese was in lovely condition, including Camembert, Livarot, St Maure and some local cheeses (19/20). These were attractively presented with a range of chutneys and spices matched to each cheese. Desserts continued the high level of cooking. Rhubarb with pistachio mousse was served with lovely wild strawberries with a rhubarb mousse (19/20). I briefly tasted a fine coffee mousse and parfait with lemon zest, but my favourite was a glass of raspberries with a Thai basil jelly flavoured with a hint of violets. This would not usually be my kind of thing, but the raspberries were literally the best I have ever tasted, and left me grinning like a child when I tasted them (20/20). Finally a little cocktail stick was presented on which was an utterly perfect piece of rum baba, moist and dipped in cider and spices (20/20).

There was a lengthy tea and coffee menu, so you could have coffee from Columbia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mysore or Guatemala: the espresso from Guatemala was superb (20/20).  The bill per head was EUR 245, which included plenty of wine. Starters are generally around EUR 50, main courses mostly EUR 65. To give an idea of the food costs. Service was just about perfect. Overall this was a fabulous meal, a very strong 3star restaurant at the height of its abilities. This was confirmed by a lunch the following day, where we repeated some dishes but also tried a few different things, all at the same top class level, including superb sweetbreads and lamb. 


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User comments

  • Richard

    This is definitely one of my best dining experience as well. Hope my pictures can compliment Andy's brilliant description. This is one of the best seafood restaurants I have been. Deceivingly simple, Roellinger's light touch moulded a complex subtlety that allows the ingredient to shine. A master of spice, he has cleverly infused the seasoning that the flavors seem to belong there to begin with. The dining room is casual and inviting and the staff friendly and profession, not a bit of stuffiness you would expect from a three star restaurant.

  • Mark Thompson

    I have been very interested for Andy to dine here and read his assessment. As usual, I totally agree with his assessment. My wife and I dined at Olivier Roellinger in June 2007 with our three daughters (ages 19, 15, and 13). We all choose the ten course 'Image du Pays Malouin' menu. The seafood and rich sauces were perfect. We had four successive seafood courses of John Dory with a Celtic mustard and ginger, Rouget, Lobster with cocoa, and a Brill with assorted spices that were individually wonderful and when layered successively were a gastronomique event. Then followed the local specialty of salt marsh fed lamb chops (very tender). Finishing the evening was a great cheese cart, raspberry dessert, coffee/tea service, and petit fors. We have been fortunate to dine at 28 different 3-star Michelin restaurants ... Rochat and Roellinger are our two favorite. This place is fabulous !

  • Chris

    Great stuff. Makes me want to get on a flight this evening. Interesting your comment about lobster, too - I find exactly the same thing in restaurants. Everywhere in the US at least (I've never bought out in a restaurant over here; too expensive) the norm appears to be to cook a 1.5lb lobster for about 15 minutes, when it only needs about half that.

  • Alex Chambers

    Although I've had better meals on a tasting menu (28 course Splurge at Per Se, Noma's top end taster, 10 Courses at Hotel de Ville) this was responsible for two of the best a la carte meal experiences I've had. John Dory raw, Turbot and a raspberry dish were all 10/10 - the first time I've ever given that to a meal as a whole. The following lunchtime, I tested the lamb and it was as good as the fish dishes. An absolutely charming restaurant; there is something seriously wrong with UK cuisine if, given the exchange rate, I escaped from here with a bill that was significantly lower than Ducasse London, despite the fact we ordered better wine. A genuinely classy establishment. Lovely staff too.