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Brief Normandy Notes - Where DOES one eat in Honfleur and Étretat ?

Gman | Feb 1, 201912:45 PM     10

I made several passes at finding recs for Honfleur and mostly came up with ‘where not to eat’… which is understandable in a place with dozens (feels like hundreds) of dining options. Have been to Sa Qua Na and didn’t love the experience – so where else? I’m not much help, but here goes.

On our way out of Paris got very delayed on the A13 from a terrible accident. While stuck in traffic, poked around to try and find a spot for lunch where I thought we would land around 1pm (following the delay closely on Google Maps). Looked like we’d be near Acquiny, just south of Louviers. Loving any reason to get off the autoroute – we headed there.

RESTAURANT LA CHAUMIÈRE, in Acquigny.
True to its name, this typical timbered building it is directly across from a beautiful example of thatched cottage. A real family place, with mom and pop (she from Ireland, he from Normandy) behind the stove (mostly mom) and I suspect the daughter was our waitress. A cozy, wood-beamed room with a fireplace at table level, and it being the holidays, a lovely big Christmas Tree taking up one full corner. A few families, and several officemates dejeurning with orange tickets.

We were given amuse-bouche of little ceramic spoons of salade lentille and small crostini with what was described as rillette de thon and maybe it was but it was hard not to think it was tuna salad, which I’m very fond of.

I started with the St. Jacques and Bob had the Terrine de Gibier du Moment which that day was sanglier. The St. Jacques were pretty straight forward, four of them nicely sautéed sitting on a narrow band of rice in a lemon butter sauce. The terrine was good, though the pickled beets they offered on the side along with cornichon were so sour it brought tears to the eyes. I think perhaps someone reached for the salt twice and skipped the sugar? Or the vinegar was very, very, very tart.

Between courses we got to watch Monsieur cook some rognon de veau over the hearth which was entertaining.

I had the fish of the day which Monsieur described as Cabillaud Bonne Femme, and indeed it had cream, shallots, mushrooms and champagne, but it also had tiny shrimp, mussels and squid which was all fine by me but we were glad Bob didn’t order it as the shellfish would do him in. He had a suprême de volaille also with mushrooms but no shellfish and tagliatelle which he enjoyed. None of the desserts called to me so I asked if perhaps they had fromage and the waitress seemed quite pleased I asked. She brought over a large wooden tray with a handle in the center made from a large cep. There were over a dozen to choose from but I only opted for three – a very funky camembert, a Pont-L’Evêque and a Selles-sur-Cher. Bob had a terrine de chocolat which was tasty but presented rather like a tombstone, with little ‘grasses’ and ‘flowers’ made from angélique and almonds and crème Chantilly. As we were settling up at the bar Monsieur offered us some calva which was very kind, but as we were getting on the road we declined. I’d go back if I was in the neighborhood. €110, including €30 for a Pouilly-Fumé.

ENTRE TERRE & MER, Honfleur
This seemed to pop up a few times in my research so we reserved. It was a fairly quiet night, with less than half of the tables full, which is likely typical for January. Across from Sa Qua Na, just in from the quai. I had the Menu Plaisir (€45) and went in the mer direction, while Bob went terre and had the ris de veau (€34). We were started off with an amuse of a small cup of celery soup with shattered bits of a crisp, lacey, buckwheat gallette, which was warm and delicious. My entrée was cold Saumon d’Isigny, which had either been gently poached or was ceviche-d or was raw. I couldn’t tell. Was bracketed with israeli couscous which was very well cooked and flavorless foam. The plate was very attractive as it was showered in more of the lacy galette, tiny lime wedges, mache and matchsticks of golden and red beets. The beets were raw, so a bit bitter, and I think would have added more to the dish if they were pickled. My plat was St. Jacques (I never cook them at home because of Bob’s allergy, so when we’re out, and ‘tis the season…). This was a pretty odd plate. Six scallops, each on a bed of mashed topinambour with varying accompaniments on each little stack. Roasted turnips, deep fried potato chips, purple potatoes, nearly-raw chunks of leek stalk, drips and dots on the plate, and very weedy looking herbs unknown to me and stripes of a green sauce. The whole business would have been at least 50% better if it wasn’t all so close to room temp. Meh. Bob didn’t much care for his Ris de Veau, either. The cheese plate was fine but the accompanying salad was a vinegar bomb (is this something I don’t know about Normans ?) and the dessert was, I think, a taro-root pudding accompanied by meringue sticks, lychee nuts, cookie crumbs and a brown pool of (if I had to guess) carob sauce and some raspberry sherbet. Certainly chef-y. But again – meh. All that effort, for…. What ? Best bit was the mignardises, a very fine canelé and a nice caramel. But as Bob said… the best part of the meal shouldn’t be the bits you didn’t order… €127 with a bottle of Fleurie, €45.

Étretat
Have been here three times and have never found a decent place to eat. Every menu seems exactly the same as all the others, and very touristy. Any intel for the next time would be most welcome as we do love to visit those cliffs and one can build up quite an appetite in that bracing wind…

Threw in the towel and left to roll the dice in some other spot on our way back to Honfleur. FWIW – ended up at

BRASSERIE DE L’ABBAYE, Montvilliers
Seemed to be the only game in town, and lots of comings and goings so we took that as a good sign. Right in the center of town, next to the 11th-century Eglise Saint-Sauveur, which has a dual nave, one side for nuns, the other for communicants and a few very nice windows. Seems another family run spot. Friendly, and lots to pick from on the ardoise. We both started with Œuf mayo, and I had a totally passable choucroute garnie, and Bob had Bavette Frites which did the job. A pichet of Brouilly €14, and we were out of there for €52.

Back in Honfleur, had wandered around trying to spy something promising for supper but really couldn’t settle on anywhere. Meant to do more research back at the hotel but then bad news from back home reached us and we were completely off our game. Inquired at one place that was empty except for two tables, but was assured that they were fully booked even though it was already past 8:30… (it felt more like the ‘you didn’t reserve so I will punish you’ and I should know ‘cause I’ve seen it in the hands of a master. You haven’t been turned away from a half-empty restaurant until you’ve had the late, great Chantal Chagny toss you out of Auberge du Cep in Fleurie. Fortunately, we had reserved but had ring-side seats for her intimidating dismissal, but I digress….) alas… ended up at

LA CIDRERIE, Honfleur
Here’s what I can say in favor of the place: lively, friendly, filled with French families. Here’s what I’ll say against it : canned mushrooms. Really? You’re going to put those in a crepe side by side with noble comté ? I think it’s also possible the potatoes with Bob’s Morteau also had done time in tin. Alors…. The dessert crêpes were fine (confiture and caramel-beurre salée)
We downed it all with 100 cl of plonk (€25) and finished with 3 5-year old Calva’s split between us (see note above about bad news) and the whole thing was €90. Breizh Café has nothing to worry about….

Until next time, and thanks always for your guidance and wisdom and insight, Houndies.

Restaurant La Chaumière
Entre Terre Et Mer
Brasserie de l'abbaye
La Cidrerie
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