In his rather chilly maritime lair docked along the Port de l’Herbaudière, Alexandre Couillon proudly sports the colors of Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile: locally grown herbs, fish caught by friends, vegetables from the kitchen garden… The night we went, the chef took us out to sea with a fabulous Odyssean nine-course menu (€190), placed atop the white tablecloths by his wife Céline’s crew: a garden tomato tartlet, a mackerel and coffee truffle, a watermelon/oyster cream combo and a shot of tomato-marigold water with grapes marinated in verjus, all tickled by a subtle lovage yogurt; the emblematic Erika Oyster dish – a plump oyster enveloped in a squid ink sauce and seasoned with powdered lardo di Colonnata; a delightful BBQed mackerel with a honey glaze, paired with long turnip spaghetti; pieces of lobster cooked over a wood fire with a stunning shellfish jus infused with meadowsweet – as a bonus, wipe the plate clean with the excellent homemade natural sourdough bread; a superb take on zucchini (grilled, tempura…), with salted blackcurrants and other treasures from the garden – sorrel, mustard greens, arugula; a trio of fish from independent fishermen (scorpionfish, John Dory, red mullet), all perfectly cooked and served with slow-roasted eggplant and a translucent jus; line-caught pollack fillet in a rich pine vinegar infused butter, with puréed carrots and a black garlic condiment; before whole strawberries and cherry tomatoes brightened up by some delicious rose ice cream, then a divine carrot mousse intensified by melon sorbet, roasted apricot and a bay leaf infused oil. // G.LeP.
FEELING THIRSTY? A plethoric selection of wines, put together by the talented Emmanuel Coeur, with a focus on Loire winemakers: a Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine from Vincent Caillé (€12 a glass), a Savennières from the Domaine Pithon-Paillé (€48 a bottle), Pierre Précieuse, a Loire white from Alexandre Bain (€53), a Vendée red from Thierry Michon (€84).
PRICE: Chef’s menus €130 and €190.