Eight Great Places to Eat in Normandy

1. SA QUA NON

The name is a meaningless play-on-words meant to mimic the French sound of sakana (“fish” in Japanese), and seafood is what this restaurant in the town of Honfleur is all about. Chef Alexandre Bourdas may be from the Aveyron, but his Asian-style seafood compositions are as delicious and original as they are improbable. My favorite? Cod with jasmine-flavored fermented milk, turnips, chick peas, pomelos, and oysters. 22 Place Hamelin, Honfleur (02-31-89-40-80)

2. GILL

Rouen (a terrific day-trip from Paris) has a two-star sleeper in what has long been the grandest restaurant in Normandy. Chef Gilles Tornadre has a deft touch when it comes to updating classics like pigeon à la rouennaise, serving the roasted bird with the obligatory red-wine-and-foie-gras sauce but plating its grilled thighs with an onion fondue. His turbot with candied shallots is spectacular, too. 9 quai Bourse, Rouen (02-35-71-96-91)

3. MANOIR DU LYS

Tucked deep in a forest surrounding the old spa town of Bagnoles de l’Orne, this “country inn” is a real surprise, both for its contemporary décor and for the superb cooking of Franck Quinton, who trained in Paris with Joél Robuchon before returning home to take over the family business. If a starter of ormeau (conch) with a baked apple and Calvados ice cream shows off his technique, the maki of squid and lobster with an emulsion of Camembert and pears spotlights his sheer creativity. Route Juvigny-sous-Andaine, Bagnoles de l’Orne (02-33-37-80-69)

4. LA RENAISSANCE

Young chef Arnaud Viel’s “La Tradition Corigée” (roughly, “tradition corrected”) menu offers a terrific cameo of how a new generation of Gallic cooks is leading France into the 21st century. Nothing demonstrates his talent more than a first course of langoustines presented two ways—as tartare with passion fruit and beet, and poached with langoustine bouillon. 20 Avenue de la 2ème D.B., Argentan (02-33-36-4-20; hotel-larenaissance.com)

5. LA MARE Ô POISSONS

After training in Paris (at Guy Savoy, Lasserre, and Ledoyen), Benoît Delbasserue returned to Normandy and opened this hip fish house just a few miles from the D-Day landing beaches. His seasonal menu might include such dishes as fresh sardines in a soy-pineapple vinaigrette, sole meunière with dried fruit, and Livarot (a local Norman cheese) ice cream. 68 Rue Emile Herbeline, Ouistreham (02-31-37-53-05)

6. JEAN-LUC TARTARIN

Thanks to this restaurant, the busy workaday port of Le Havre is now a gastronomic destination, pulling vacationers across the bridge from Deauville for such offerings as a superbly subtle bowl of clams, bay scallops, langoustines, and mackerel in a base of smoked parsley water, or poached pigeon with a foam of its cooking juices, sea water, and coconut milk. 73 Avenue Foch, Le Havre (02-35-45-46-20; jeanluc-tartarin.com)

7. LE MASCARET

Philippe Mascaret met his wife, Nadia, a ballet dancer, in Bulgaria when he was the chef at the French embassy in Sofia. Later, the couple set up shop in his native Normandy, where they both cook with an original style that marries the local catch-of-the-day with occasional Slavic garnishes. Don’t miss the crab ravioli with tiny clams and white beans in a langoustine jus. 1 Rue de Bas, Blainville-sur-Mer, Blainville-sur-Mer (02-33-45-86-09; lemascaret.com)

8. LE ROCHER

Chef Lucian Quemener has transformed a little brasserie into one of the most appealing restaurants in Normandy. The setting is simple and the short menu changes regularly, but his cooking is always hearty and generous, from the beef cheeks in a chocolate-spiked jus to the crisply fried sole with seaweed. 2 Place du Marechal Foch, Granville (02-33-50-16-41; le-rocher.co.uk)

Source: gourmet.com