Once again I am delighted to welcome my mother as a guest blogger, this time to review Alexandre Bourdas’s two-star Honfleur hotspot SaQuaNa.
* * * * *
Saveurs (flavour), Quality and Nature are the three marks that the restaurant’s chef, Alexandre Bourdas, seeks in his cooking. He is successful. On his website he speaks of being influenced by his mother’s home in Aveyron and his own cooking experience in Japan. Surprising combinations, the melding of what might be considered opposites, mark the experience of a meal at SaQuaNa. This is not comfort food, nor usual French cooking, but it is creative cooking in which interesting flavors are combined carefully, yet hold their own identity.
My husband and I began with a “pascade Aveyronnaise,” a baked crepe with the crunch of crispy sugar as one bit into it. That first taste was immediately followed by the savory taste of fresh chives and the overall flavor of truffle. What a fabulous start! Next was steamed pollack with Gomasio (a salt and sesame seed preparation), turnips, radish, mustards, grilled sardines and frothed olive oil. Sea-bream with Colonnata bacon with fresh almonds, pointed head cabbage, meadow mushrooms and parsley flowers was the following course. Then came veal and button mushrooms which had an emulsion of preserved lemon, swisschard and chervil.
A cake, which was more like a cookie, followed: salted caramel and chocolate, fromage blanc and pineapple sorbet, cream and hazelnut oil. Then a second dessert was served: “cappuccino” of iced coffee, ganache, a cocoa tile, mousse with cocoa butter, toffee, and a choux bun with caramel and whipped cream. Add to the above the little bits and pieces delivered to the table in most two star Michelin restaurants, not ordered, but delightful offerings to further enhance the experience, and you will have a sense of the seriousness and the playfulness of this chef and his kitchen. Portions are individual and small. That is unless you are including some of the most delicious bread known to man or the large bowl of fresh salad. Both are communal and are to be shared by the table.
The staff is excellent. Despite all of that food, they do not rush one. The pace is practiced and perfect and polished. The staff seems warm and welcoming and happy to answer any question put to them.
The restaurant sits on a square, not far from the beautiful harbor, in this stunning port city which is full of 17th century buildings plus a fascinating church. Sa.Qua.Na’s building looks like an old store front, except that there are sun shades resting at various levels. They look not like a mistake but a plan. The inside seems simple, pure, and like the food, full of surprises when you examine its interior closely. The light colored wooden tables look Scandinavian.
There are nods to Asia in the decoration. What is noticed is that the vertical strip lighting serves as a part of the decoration. The colors are mysterious . The tables have been carefully designed so that the marvelous cheese tray can hang off of the end of each table. Essential elements decorate. It feels natural. You notice the quality and thought put into the design. SaQuaNa.