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Olivier Roellinger's Les Maisons de Bricourt


eugenezuckoff
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I haven't been since something like 1997 -- I think I went the same year Bux did -- but it's the restaurant in France I'd most love to return to. There may be better and more consistent restaurants -- Michelin thinks there are more than a few -- but Roellinger's inventiveness and unpretentiousness put him at the top of my list.

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Haven't been there because they were closed on our last visit, but I really liked Le Coquillage and the chateau richeux. We will return in September to eat at maison bricourt.

I will make a plug for the graines de vanilles tea room -- some of the best gallete breton I've ever eaten.

We stayed at Chateau Richeux in December right before they closed for the season and it was great. Quiet with fabulously quiet rooms and great service. I would recommend it on the off season, especially if you can get a reservation at Maison Bricourt.

lalala

I have a relatively uninteresting life unless you like travel and food. Read more about it here.

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We haven't been to Maison Bricourt in about 4 years, but at that time We were very impressed. Traditional dishes expressing the terroir of his area(seafood, lamb from the salt marshes,etc) but subtly influenced with his judicious use of spices. At the time we placed it in the same league with Troisgros and Les Crayeres.

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I was there on August 29(sunday)and perhaps because it was sunday the seafood was not as fresh as I would have expected.

??? how to you know that ? not as fresh as you expect ? you have some special hints ?

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  • 2 months later...

I was there on August 29(sunday)and perhaps because it was sunday the seafood was not as fresh as I would have expected.

??? how to you know that ? not as fresh as you expect ? you have some special hints ?

I'm wondering the same thing.

I have an idea why someone might say that. But I also know that on a Wednesday, Monday's catch can be served. Oooh even at the top tier places.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I was there on August 29(sunday)and perhaps because it was sunday the seafood was not as fresh as I would have expected.

??? how to you know that ? not as fresh as you expect ? you have some special hints ?

I'm wondering the same thing.

I have an idea why someone might say that. But I also know that on a Wednesday, Monday's catch can be served. Oooh even at the top tier places.

Very fresh sea bass has a particular texture--almost like a coarse potato puree . Then when it is 2 to 3 days old, the flesh becomes firmer but still very moist and flavorful. Usually the farmed seabass is more soft but less flavorful. The version at Roellinger was beginning to lose its moistness and the flesh had become a tad dry. I don't think they overcooked it because it was "a la vapeur"

The turbot was fresher but it was not turbot but turbotine. Small turbot. It is less good than turbot. It does not usually possess the same gelatinous fat. At best turbot is one of the most regal of fish, either from the Black Sea or Atlantic. But it is seasonal. Partially it is my fault to have ordered it on a sunday and in August.

The lobster was very good but what differentiated the lobster from other very good Breton lobsters was a superb Bisque and very intelligent spicing which enhanced the overall taste profile without masking it.

The intelligent sauces with turbot and seabass too proved that technically speaking this is a very accomplished place. Maybe one should not go there on a sunday. But since they are on their way to get the third star they should be more careful with ingredient quality. It is also a bad omen that they were not serving the Mont St. Michel pre sale lamb(see Mikael or degusto's write up in gastroville)but Aubrac lamb. Maybe they are cutting costs.

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The lobster was very good but what differentiated the lobster from other very good Breton lobsters was a superb Bisque and very intelligent spicing which enhanced the overall taste profile without masking it.

Which spices did he use? Saffron comes to mind immediately, maybe a hint of fennel?

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The lobster was very good but what differentiated the lobster from other very good Breton lobsters was a superb Bisque and very intelligent spicing which enhanced the overall taste profile without masking it.

Which spices did he use? Saffron comes to mind immediately, maybe a hint of fennel?

Touragsand, are you a chef?

I actually found my notes. On lobster and other dishes. On the second reading it looks like turbot was even more problematic than my portrayal but the bar(seabass) had some redeeming qualites. For lobster, labelled as"Saveur des Iles" which discloses nothing--other than the image of a sunbathing beauty a la cheap TV commercial in a tropical island--my notes talks about a touch of ginger and saffron and licorice. I also noted some soft Burgundian spices and some aged balsamico. I have not asked our waiter about the composition of Burgundian spices as for the French this will be a question in bad taste. I also noted that they had a delicate licorice cake as a garnie. Most importantly, the spicing, despite the catchy name was deft and displayed perfect harmony. That is the natural flavor of the lobster was not masked when Asian spices are used(like Chinois in LA and Oasis after Outhier), but actually the match was perfect. I had this dish with a Coche 99 Meursault Rougeot but if I have the chance again I may go for a silky, complex, aromatic, decadent, sumptous red Bourgogne. They have good ones on the list.

Turbot was overkill by the way. The grapefruit chutney was overwhelming but could not hide poor quality.

My notes also indicate an outstanding quality cassis souffle.

I can see why this restaurant is considered a 3 star candidate. The technique and vision is there. They have to improve the consistency.

Please do report if you dine there this summer.

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Hi vmilor,

Just a couple of questions:

Your earlier post make's the inference that the bass was not overcooked because it was cooked "a la vapeur", can you explain what you mean. I had the Bar aux huiles florale, which was excellent with the Vouvray we had, & i think the fish was cooked in a low temp. oven (70/80degrees)with a bain marie in the bottom to add a little moisture, you have more control than steam because the temp. you operate at with the oven is very similar to that which muscle protein coagulates(you dont want to go any further with fish)

Also my menu does not include the origin of the lamb that i had

, it tasted so bloody good anyway!, so did you ask where it was from? If so perhaps you could of asked a number of questions pertinent to your meal i.e. freshness of the fish, false description of fish & spicing etc. I found the staff to be knowledgeable & efficient as you would expect of an espoir(seems Rolly has been espoiring since before michelin introduced the category- rubbing some of that sea salt into the wound)Generally i think restaurants of this calibre have been more careful with how they write their menu's since the Jean Bardet affair, so a little more questioning can be necessary. Oh i ate their in June, on a sunday, but had no quibbles with the freshness.

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Hi Vmilor-

Thank you for the detailed report. No I am not a chef. I'm married to one. As a result I've worked in commercial kitchens doing pretty much everything on the kitchen line as neccessary, sometimes filling in for the chef.

As for Burgundian spices off the top of my head I think of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, anise, allspice and ginger. Although I suspect that Olivier Roellinger probably uses a greater range than this.

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Cancale, as I understand it, was home to the French East India Trading company and thus port of entry for all the spices of the orient as it was known at the time. Roellinger thus feels it's not only his right, but his duty, to incorporate the spices of the world into his food and uphold the local traditions. The rooms in his inn are each named for a spice. I know of very few chefs who evven approach Roellinger in the sensitivity of the use of so wide a range of spices. Fusion, when applied to food, has always been a scary word. Roellinger has so well mastered the use of his spices, that I never sensed he was trying fuse anything any more than I would think of lardons and mushrooms being fused into coq au vin. His food had so great a sense of being correct and traditional, even if it was to a terrior no greater than his property.

Gray Kunz, who was still at Lespinasse in NY when I visited Roellenger is another who is adept at handling the spices of the east naturally in an unforced manner.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Hi vmilor,

            Just a couple of questions:

    Your earlier post make's the inference that the bass was not overcooked because it was cooked "a la vapeur", can you explain what you mean. I had the Bar aux huiles florale, which was excellent with the Vouvray we had, & i think the fish was cooked in a low temp. oven (70/80degrees)with a bain marie in the bottom to add a little moisture, you have more control than steam because the temp. you operate at with the oven is very similar to that which muscle protein coagulates(you dont want to go any further with fish)

          Also my menu does not include the origin of the lamb that i had

, it tasted so bloody good anyway!, so did you ask where it was from? If so perhaps you could of asked a number of questions pertinent to your meal i.e. freshness of the fish, false description of fish & spicing etc. I found the staff to be knowledgeable & efficient as you would expect of an espoir(seems Rolly has been espoiring since before michelin introduced the category- rubbing some of that sea salt into the wound)Generally i think restaurants of this calibre have been more careful with how they write their menu's since the Jean Bardet affair, so a little more questioning can be necessary. Oh i ate their in June, on a sunday, but had no quibbles with the freshness.

seanw,

I am sorry I had not realized there were questions directed at me. Cleary you are very knowledgeable about cooking techniques and perhaps a professional--I am just an enthusiastic gourmet.

You are absolutely correct about the way seabass was cooked. I scribbled to my notes in Turkish that it was basicallya "bugulama". But then "a la vapeur" is not the right translation for it and when I read your description I intuitively concluded that this is it--a more accurate version of "bugulama"which is very traditional in Turkey esp. for rock fish and deep sea fish.

So my best guess at this point butressed in a personal conversation with degusto who is a serious cook is that the problem was due to freshness but not to cooking technique. The sauce had a good amount of olive oil which did not bother me as I love good olive oil but it is possible that they wanted to add moisture to the dry fish. Obviously I am not naive enough to believe that you will accept my word for freshness or the absence thereof as the final word on the topic esp. if you had a different experience. In my defence I can only say that I eat fish quite often and esp. sea bass(bar) is a favorite of mine and I grew up eating lots of sea bass just caught--of course you can not eat them during rigor mortis but I had them within 24 hours to 72 hours of their catch too many times(and will continue to have this summer when I go to Turkey). Of course one can still err, yet the problem with both turbot and seabass gave me pause.

I did ask lots of questions about the lamb and probably I should have ordered the Aubrac lamb but I was very disappointed that they did not have Pre-sale because it is right there. I was burning at the time (and still I am burning)with the desire to have pre-sale as degusto kept sending me the pictures of what he was cooking at home(buying them from Prince Rainier's butcher)and I was both envious and curious. When I also saw 90 Jayer Cros Parentoux on the list, another object of desire that I don't possess and can kill to get one, my heart literally started pounding as two of the three carnal things I wanted most in life at the time(the third being spending a night with Emanuelle Beart which is clearly less probable than the first two)and upon learning that the lamb was not pre-sale I literally felt like crying. I then asked too many questions and probably intimidated the professional server but I consoled myself that they had given us the best table, the one in the middle of the room directly looking at the pond, and decided not to pursue the issue of fish mislabeling(turbot was turbotin)and quality. This is really unlike me to tell the truth and I assure you that I go to great lengths when I am unpleased with a dish or a recommended bottle of wine in expensive restaurants.

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I'm intrigued by his use of spices.

I wonder if anyone who has dined there can describe what they tasted in terms of spices? Does he have a very light hand? Blends? Single notes? Infusions of sauces/broths? Does he use spices as part of a crust? etc,etc,etc...

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I'm intrigued by his use of spices.

I wonder if anyone who has dined there can describe what they tasted in terms of spices? Does he have a very light hand? Blends? Single notes? Infusions of sauces/broths? Does he use spices as part of a crust? etc,etc,etc...

It was many years ago, but I'd say he had a very light hand with the spices. There was one amuse that reminded me of a satay, but it was the only thing we ate that night that seemed unFrench and it was only one bite on a plate with several other tidbits. For the rest of the tasting menu, there was nothing that seemed fusion of influenced by the cuisine of another country. They were his flavors and he made them French.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to add to to the good things said about Roellinger - we were there in August of 2004 and were really blown away by not only the food, but the service, the setting and the warmth of the place. We still talk about his tartare of St. Pierre (translation in english ???) with a Celtic vinegrette. It's OUTSTANDING. We of course hit the boutique and walked away with his special herbs and vinegar plus a DVD about his life with recipies (highly recommended). He became a chef late in life after a savage mugging left him hospitalized for many months. He is also self taught which is adds to the intrigue. The restaurant is his childhood home and you erally get the sense you are being welcomed into his world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Cancale is also a lovely, not too touristy, town in Brittany with many lovely surrounding beaches and drives. We didn't, but I would have loved to, stay in the private cabanas he rents (not the chateau but the houses on the cliff) and reccomend that too - we passed to see them - if you can. ENJOY!!!

Zoe

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I was just there a couple weeks ago, and found it truly lovely. This was my first trip to Bretagne but it has become my favorite area of France. I'll get around to writing the full review soon.

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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Zoe,

St Pierre is of course St Peter(the fisherman), believed to have left his thumbprint on the fish that we know as John Dory(who probably left a pint of blood on the fish whilst prepping the spiny little bastard!). I have seen the DVD L'invention du cuisine, with Bras & Gagnaire, their is probably a thread somewhere on the matter, i enjoyed it alot.

Pim, me thinks you have alot of reviewing to catch up on, must be terrible...eat, eat.....eat....eat some more! Do you prefer French provincial or French metropolitan?

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      Pim, me thinks you have alot of reviewing to catch up on, must be terrible...eat, eat.....eat....eat some more! Do you prefer French provincial or French metropolitan?

:laugh: Yes, i do have lots to catch up on. I seem to have forgotten I have a blog as well..... :blink: I'll get back on the wagon soon I hope.

There are time and place for both provincial and metropolitan, I believe. Some may argue that in general the three stars in Paris are better than those in the country side, at least technique-wise. And to that I might not disagree, but the thing that's hard to take away from the provicial places - the great ones at least - is how incredibly "situated" they are. And by situate I mean how they so fit into local terroir so very perfectly. You could see it at Bras, at Roellinger, at Troigros, at Buerehiesel, and many other places. It would be entirely impossible to take La Maison de Bricourt away from Brittany, as it will be like taking the soul away from the place. Parisien two-three stars are much less connected to the land and much more, by definition, metropolitan.

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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Pim, you've expressed that well. I've not heard anyone use the term terroir to describe a country inn before, but -- at least as far we we've come to use the word these days -- it's a very apt descriptive use of "terroir." I once heard a sommelier describe a wine from the Languedoc as "technical." By that he meant that it was well made, but lacked a regional flavor or characteristic. It's difficult to incorporate a regional characteristic if you want to make excellent wine in an area with no tradition for that. In any event, I think the food of most metropolitan regions is technical rather than terrior based.

Parisian restaurants may achieve a certain kind of technical superiority perhaps, but I have found the country inns to offer the more rewarding experience at the two and three star level. Rewards are often very personal, of course. On a limited budget, I'd eat in the provinces any day. Unfortunately, one needs a car to visit some of these places -- Bras comes to mind immediately -- and many of them are part of an inn whose room rates are not in the budget range, but I remember first exploring the great country restaurants while staying nearby in less luxurious places. After our first taste of top country cooking, we found it very easy to return to France and avoid Paris altogether for a number of years. Today, I am once more addicted to Paris, but to know Paris and not the provinces is to not know France.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I would highly recommend this restaurant, and certainly the hotel as well. We went to France for 2 weeks and this was definitely a highlight of the trip. The hotel is fantastic, with an amazing view of the oyster beds in the Atlantic. In my opinion, it was very fairly priced. There is a walkway at the back of the hotel to the rocky beach, covered with trees (and a little dangerous), that will bring you right to the water. The room is small but luxurious. I will try and post some pics if I can. There is a complementary taxi to Roellinger's restaurant if you are eating there. It is a bit more casual than most Paris 3 stars, but the food is fantastic...with the focus obviously on seafood. We also had some great oysters right at the waterfront in Cancale for lunch. Just wanted to plug this hotel/restaurant combo for anyone going to Brittany...we will never forget our time there....

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I would highly recommend this restaurant, and certainly the hotel as well. We went to France for 2 weeks and this was definitely a highlight of the trip. The hotel is fantastic, with an amazing view of the oyster beds in the Atlantic. In my opinion, it was very fairly priced. There is a walkway at the back of the hotel to the rocky beach, covered with trees (and a little dangerous), that will bring you right to the water. The room is small but luxurious. I will try and post some pics if I can. There is a complementary taxi to Roellinger's restaurant if you are eating there. It is a bit more casual than most Paris 3 stars, but the food is fantastic...with the focus obviously on seafood. We also had some great oysters right at the waterfront in Cancale for lunch. Just wanted to plug this hotel/restaurant combo for anyone going to Brittany...we will never forget our time there....

I equally recommend Roellinger also and agree with your post. I was there in mid-April and in Bretagne for the first time. I think visiting his bakery nearby, Grains de Vanille is a must, just for the butter galettes.

His bistro in the Chateau Richieu, is very good and reasonably priced in a beautiful building, tastefully decorated and superbly located about 3 K away, as are the rooms. It is great value for such charm, food and ambiance, as are the oysters at the waterfront! 3.5 euros for a dozen, slightly higher for the plats and the gathered uncultivated sauvage.

I would go back at the first opportunity.

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  • 2 months later...
I equally recommend Roellinger also and agree with your post. His bistro in the Chateau Richieu, is very good and reasonably priced in a beautiful building,

Just to add to the chorus of approval for Roellinger, this month's US version of France Magazine had a nice article by Alexander Lobrano entitled “Culinary Empires” in which he uses Olivier Roellinger as his model of a good/great chef building a local empire (as opposed to the global or bistro annex empires).

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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