Of the many places in France that Anthony Bourdain visited, perhaps none are as iconic as Brittany on the Northwest coast. Its is here that Tony buys – or is perhaps strongarmed into buying – his iconic striped Bretagne shirt, and here that he coins the phrase “I want my seafood tower” that many people repeat when visiting the region.
Anthony Bourdain visited Brittany as part of Season 6 of No Reservations; it was the only time he visited the region on screen. Throughout his journey and culinary escapades, Bourdain is joined by a series of Bretons who show off the best that Brittany has to offer – primarily seafood and shellfish, but also spices, sweets, and traditional foods too.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Brittany, you’re in luck: all of the places he visited back 2009/2010 while filming the episode are still open today. Below you’ll find a list of these places, as well as the dishes he tried at each – and, where possible to verify, whether the dishes are still on the menu today.
Ready to explore the rocky coastline, pristine beaches, and rolling countryside of Brittany with Anthony Bourdain as your guide? Allons-y! (Let’s go!)
Places Tony Ate in Brittany
I usually like to start with a map of places that Anthony Bourdain ate in any destination as it gives you a sense of where each place is and how to plan your own trip following his footsteps – or forkfuls, as it were. As you can see, Brittany is a large region – and Bourdain spends time in two main areas: north near Saint-Malo and south near Pont-Aven.
Now that you’re oriented, let’s go through each place individually and what Tony ate when visiting them.
Château Richeux (Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes)
The highlight of Bourdain’s visit to Brittany was the two meals he enjoyed at Château Richeux, the property owned by chef Olivier Roellinger in Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes. The Château is both a restaurant and has rooms; I don’t know if Tony stayed there but he dined there twice during his Brittany episode.
His first meal is simple, featuring freshly made French bread made on site, as well as boudin noir, pâté, and Galette au Rillettes (I think!). For his second meal, it’s a much more complex affair, with dishes including mackerel with Celtic mustard, sea bass with lemon and pimpernel, artichokes with Christe marine spices, squid with tomato chutney, lobster with cacao and zucchini, and sea bass and potatoes with fava and powder “marine” spices. (Looking at their most recent menu, it looks like the lobster is still offered.)
Grain de Vanille (Cancale)
In between delicious meals at Château Richeaux, Tony and Olivier visit a few of the other food businesses Roellinger has opened in his home region. Their first stop is Grain de Vanille in Cancale, a sweet and pastry shop that specializes in regional treats.
There, Tony tries Galettes Cancalese (butter cookies) and world famous caramels au beurre sale (salted butter caramels). Bourdain also orders an indulgent vanilla cream Mille Feuille for which Grain de Vanille is famous.
Épices Roellinger (Cancale)
Next, Bourdain and Roellinger visit Olivier’s spice shop, Épices Roellinger, also in Cancale. Here, Olivier introduces Tony to some of the unique spices and proprietary spice combinations he has helped create to keep Bretagne cuisine fresh and interesting.
If you’re visiting Brittany, you can visit Épices Roellinger in Cancale and Saint-Malo; there’s also a location in Paris where you can stock up on their unique spice blends and oils.
Anne de Belon (Port de Bélon)
As part of exploring Brittany, Bourdain makes a point to visit the Port de Bélon, home of the inimitable Bélon oyster. His goal is to point out how despite many regions claiming to produce Bélon, it is only here – in the place that gives them its name – can you find true Bélon oysters with that magic flavor that makes them so popular and worth attempting to copy.
In particular, he spends time at Anne de Belon, an oyster producer, where even the dogs eat oysters – delicious Bélon oysters.
Unnamed Fish Pop-Up (Port de Doëlan)
Forgive me, dear reader, as I worked really hard to identify the pop-up white tent where Tony and Olivier order a deliciously simple meal of fresh seafood – even going frame by frame through the shot where they hold a menu and order. However, my best research has been fruitless, so if you can help identify this place, please share in the comments below.
Neveretheless, if you find yourself hungry in the Port de Doëlan and see that white tent, here’s what the two chefs ate that you can inquire about: a smoked fish sampler, grilled salmon with andouille bread and wine, pea stew with seaweed, and grilled sea bass.
Boutique de Pont-Aven
Next, Bourdain heads to Pont-Aven, a small community not far from the coast. They visit the Boutique de Pont-Aven to try other Bretagne specialties. Specifically, they seek out “standing sardines,” that is, local sardines in a jar rather than a tin. They learn about how the different preservation of these sardines improves their flavor, and enjoy some with white wine.
Crêperie Ty Billig (Quimperlé)
Would a trip to France be complete without a crêpe? To be honest, Bourdain doesn’t eat many crepes during his visits – and is actually quite skeptical of them during his visit to try them at Crêperie Ty Billig in Quimperlé with “film guy” and local driver Franz-Rudolf Lang. (There are a number of crêperies of the same name in Brittany, I know or don’t believe they are related.)
At Ty Billig, Bourdain tries several crêpes, including the “Complete crêpe” with cheese, ham, and egg; one with andouille, mustard, and seaweed that he does not enjoy; one with mackerel rillette; and a dessert crêpe with butter, sugar, and apple brandy.
Chez Jacky (Port de Belón)
Finally, after mentioning it all episode long, Bourdain ends his visit to Brittany with a much-desired shellfish tower at Chez Jacky, back in Bélon. Though each one is unique, this is one of Tony’s favorite ways to eat seafood and shellfish; he also has one at Le Dôme Café in Paris.
Here in Brittany, the tower he finally enjoys in the final scene is a towering pile of oysters, whelks, clams, periwinkle, langoustine, crab, and lobster from the waters off the Bretagne coast.
Local Dishes to Try in Brittany
Before wrapping up this recap, I want to mention one last culinary experience Bourdain enjoyed during his visit. Joining one of his local hosts at his parents’ family home, Tony tries a few traditional Bretagne dishes that look very different than the French food he eats in the rest of the episode.
In particular, he tries Kig ha farz, a veggie and meat stew with buckwheat dumplings, and Farz au forn, which Bourdain describes as a “sweet Yorkshire pudding” (a Britain reference that probably irks the Bretons around the table). While you won’t often find these dishes on menus, you should definitely try them if you do spot these on offer.
There you have it: a guide to following in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Brittany, France. Have any questions about the places Tony ate, or do you know the name of that take-away fish spot in Port de Doëlan? Let me know in the comments!