Tuesday, October 16, 2012

France, Day 7, 8/28/2012

After breakfast we hike to Saint-Malo, arriving by 12:15. This hike is muddy in spots, but very pretty. Parts of it look like they'd be impassible at high tide, but the timing works out for us and we don't need to wait.

On the way to Saint-Malo.

For lunch, we go to a nice restaurant near our hotel called le Bacchus, which has a great lunch deal: 10 euros for either of two dishes. I get a filet of cod, sitting on a bed of zucchini and other vegetables in a green sauce, with a little disc of shredded potatoes and onion (and fennel? cabbage?). Lindsay gets the other dish, dug leg confit with delicious yellow fries in thick wedges. The interior of the restaurant is a sickening mix of lavender and pink; flowery motifs abound, and orchids are scattered everywhere. A restaurant like this would look completely different in the U.S.! It would be decorated like a barn or have exposed brick walls or something.

Then we go to the beach! The weather is less cooperative than yesterday, so we stay out of the water. The beach is filled with kids who don't mind the cold and splash around happily. After we go back to the hotel and take showers, we go to a slightly seedy bar/newsstand for afternoon drinks. Lindsay has a kir royale (sparkling wine with cassis) and I have a pastis, a milky anise-flavored liquor that comes with a pitcher of water to dilute it. I think I got the worst brand of pastis, because it tastes like liquified Good-and-Plenties.

As we look for dinner, all the restaurants look like variations on each other. We go to the one that looks the least touristy, Les Embruns, even though it's slightly more expensive than the others. When we go in, we see that it's much fancier than we expected. There are white tablecloths; the servers wear black and white uniforms.

We get the cheapest prix fixe meal (22 euros) and the cheapest carafe of white wine (from the Luberon), and we are rewarded with a terrific meal. Our server is extremely professional, and service that would feel stuffy at home is natural and fun here. I get fish soup with a platter of rouille, gruyère, and toasts. Lindsay gets crab remoulade, crab and celery root in mayonnaise (or maybe it was just a thick vinaigrette?) with dill. We are both given an amuse-bouche of a single oyster. I get a filet of haddock in a basil sauce with delicious mashed potatoes. Lindsay gets choucroute de la mer, a big plate of braised sauerkraut with a few mussels and three pieces of fish (salmon, smoked whitefish, and some sort of unsmoked whitefish).

Lindsay gets a plate with a few different desserts: a tiny ramekin of crème brûlée, a piece of layer cake, a little scoop of some sort of nut ice cream, and a berry sorbet. I get the cheese plate, which has camembert, a tomme, and a soft cheese whose name I couldn't understand. We go back to our hotel somewhat surprised at the meal we got, and very happy.

Le Bacchus
102 Avenue Pasteur
35400 Saint-Malo

Les Embruns
120 Chaussée du Sillon
35400 Saint-Malo

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