This past Monday, Jan and I headed out to a place in France we had never visited — the Bay of Arcachon, or le Bassin d’Arcachon, as it’s known in French. We were travelling with good friends Keith and Kathy, from Toronto, and had a great time — wining and dining ourselves, and nosing around the wonderful town of Arcachon itself. In this post, I’ll focus on the dining.
If you’re not familiar with it, the Bay of Arcachon is a part of the Atlantic Ocean, located on the southwest coast of France. It’s known for being a great source of oysters — but there is a plethora of fish and other seafood as well. And the four of us were intent on sampling as much as possible.
Our first restaurant was Café de la Plage, which turned out to be around the corner from our hotel, the cleverly named Hotel B d’Arcachon. (It doesn’t seem like much of a name in English, but the letter “B” in French is pronounced “Bay,” so to a French guest the hotel would be known as the Hotel of the Bay of Arcachon, which is pretty clever.) Here’s a view from our table, looking out towards the bay:
Naturally enough, the four of us began our lunch by sharing an iced tray of oysters. Here are the shells, upside down because we’ve already devoured the briny, cold oysters:
As an entrée, Jan and I both chose the tataki of tuna, which was surprisingly delicious. The thin tuna slices had been nicely marinated, but the dish was made even better by the mousse on top (lightly flavoured with horseradish, as I recall) and especially the cold salad of quinoa as a base, sweetened and full of various herbs, including mint. Here’s my dish:
For my main course, I chose the seared scallops served on a bed of sepia rice, with a rich sauce made from the scallops’ coral. It was every bit as good as it looks in the photo below:
Since I couldn’t think of a seafood dessert, I thought I should go for a traditional ice cream dish, and indeed I did. Here it is:
For lunch the next day, we walked a few metres further to the sister restaurant of Café de la Plage, known as Restaurant Chez Pierre. Again, seafood was the star of the day. The four of us began by sharing a platter of sashimi and sushi, which was (as you would expect) wonderfully fresh. Then it was onwards — with Keith ordering a dorade, which needed to be filleted at the table. Here is our server, hard at work on the fish (and she did a very good job of it):
For Jan and me, the main course simply had to be the lobster. We each had a plate-full, and loved every bit of it, along with (too many) crisp and salty french fries. Here’s my serving:
That evening, Jan, Keith, Kathy and I returned to Café de la Plage for drinks — and, because it was so good at lunch, we ordered a larger platter of sashimi and sushi to share. So Arcachon is definitely on our list for a return trip. Maybe next May, before the hordes of summer descend on the town.