So what to do but eat!!
It was amazing really. This tiny harbor town for which I can find no population statistics but whose larger inland sibling of Combit is listed as having less than 3500 people in 2008 so it must have been around 2000 or less, had three very good restaurants and two or three snack/crepe bars on the harbor alone. We ate once in the upscale restaurant at our hotel, twice at Al’s hotel and once at the Restaurant du Port only a few feet from the Hotel Du Bac. It was an embarrassment of dining riches which we happily gobbled up.
Our first real meal of the trip (we had a bite at the Nantes airport while we waited for Al to arrive, but that doesn’t count) on the outside deck of the Hotel Du Bac provided all three of us a big hit of Brittany oysters, the beginning of many, many orders we were to have throughout the trip. They were accompanied by a pile of langostines, their orange color made even more beautiful by the perfect contrast with the blue placemats on the Du Bac’s tables. Other dishes were my polluck with tomatoes, Val’s fish soup and sardine filled nems, but the big hit was rillettes of mackerel, served in an old-fashioned glass mason jar with attached lid. We were immediately addicted to the pungent, salty flavor and the thick texture and tried the dish as often as we found it on the menu but pretty well agreed that this virgin experience at the Hotel Du Bac was the best.
Our meal at the Restaurant Du Port was one we expected to be pleasant and “serviceable” but not great. It actually turned out to be rather good. Again seated outside with weather cool enough to make us pleased to find folded blankets on the backs of our chairs, we varied our cold seafood selection to include not only oysters but bulots, the somewhat snail-like creatures you have to pry from their shells with a special large pin-like implement before dredging them in mayonnaise and then happily slurping them down. Though they appear scary to many diners, once you get over their slimy appearance and used to their lovely chewiness, you can definitely develop a taste for them. We certainly have.
After disposing of our hefty seafood appetizer feast, Al had cabillaud en papillote (cod in parchment) , Val had fish soup and I had skate wing with capers. We finished the meal off with a silken crème brulee with properly crispy caramelized crust. Pretty good indeed. And this place furnished me my favorite drink of the entire trip—Rose Pamplemousse, a lovely rose wine and pink grapefruit concoction that is perfect for a summer day. Perhaps the number I drank before our dinner had something to do with why the whole meal proved such an unexpected pleasure.
We saved what we expected to be the best, for the last, having our final meal in Ste. Marine at our hotel’s dining room (the Villa Tri Men). The chef appears to be working hard to achieve a reputation for himself, his hotel and his community and doing a pretty good job of it.
The food and its presentation was definitely more upscale here than at its neighboring restaurants. Courses included some interesting and clever amuses especially stuffed cones held upright in small glass containers filled with peppercorns. The stars of the meal, however, were mackerel with tomato coulis and cotriade, a Breton fish soup, with a delicate broth and three kinds of fish.
Though an inside venue, the restaurant had large doors to open onto a deck and beyond that to the water. Our entertainment was furnished by some well-dressed small-fry staying at the hotel with their mom and grandmother. IME French children are often beautifully behaved when dining in public and these were certainly trying their best.
Next, on to some actual sightseeing.