Noirmoutier: Restaurant La Marine

Noirmoutier: Restaurant La Marine

Young chef Alexandre Couillon of the Restaurant La Marine won his first Michelin star in 2007, was named Gault Millau’s up-and-coming Grand Chef de Demain in 2008, and ever since he has been making waves on Noirmoutier, the pretty island off the Vendée coast south of Saint-Nazaire. Last year he added La Table d’Elise, a delightful little bistrot, next to La Marine, and it was promptly scooped up as a good-value Bib Gourmand in this year’s Guide Michelin.

I first discovered the terrific Restaurant La Marine when a series of relentlessly dull meals turned me into a renegade houseguest on a beautiful summer day last year. Hugely grateful for the hospitality of my friends and acknowledging that not everyone is as passionately interested in good food as I am, I took myself out for lunch. It was a bit of a drive to get there, but the Vendée is a beautiful département, and with the warm welcome I received at La Marine I had a hunch—correct, as it turned out—that I was going to have a very good meal. Couillon is a superb fish cook, and his menu changes constantly according to the catch of the day, but at that lunch I started with an intriguing medley of shellfish in a odd-sounding but very good bouillon flavored with red onions and raspberries, followed by grilled squid with red peppers and turnips; monkfish with peas, celery, currants and bergamot; and lobster cooked with pine needles and garnished with blackberries, cauliflower and beets. Though I was skeptical about some of compositions, all were delicious, as was a very good dessert of pineapple marinated with lime, lemon and coriander. For a less expensive sampling of Couillon’s cooking, try the Table d’Elise.

Restaurant La Marine Port de l’Herbaudière, 5 rue Marie Lemonnier, Noirmoutier. Fixed-price menus €56 and €95. website

La Table d’Elise Lunch menus €19.50, €29; dinner, à la carte €35. 

Prices are approximate, per person without wine.

Originally published in the June 2011 issue of France Today; updated in July 2012

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  • Jean Faure
    2011-11-13 18:18:15
    Jean Faure
    We live in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, my wife and I together with two friends from Noimoutier had the incredible opportunity of having lunch at La Marine restaurant at the end of August. IT WAS FANTASTIC. We here in Las Vegas are used to great restaurants with great chefs like Guy Savoy, Julian Serrano, Andre Ducasse, etc... but Mr. Couillon delivered a meal that was outstanding. And the service was GREAT. This experience was incredible and I am already looking forward to next year for our trip