We had a marvelous time at Deauville. The timing couldn't have been better, it was unexpectedly sunny the three days we went, the sky totally clear and cloudless. Hot under the sun and a bit nippy under the shades. We didn't do much except go to the beach and loll about under parasols and read gossip magazines.
We chose our restaurants from the Michelin guide (book and iPhone version which I liked for the online reviews), aiming not for stars but more for value-for-money and individuality. The former we got a lot of at the first restaurant we lunched at: Chez le Bougnat in Dives-sur-Mer, one of the endless string of tiny little villagey towns along the Normandy coast.
The place is spacious and decorated with too much bric-a-brac at first I thought we had arrived at a flea market. The welcome was very friendly and relaxed, well, actually we were early and it was the chef who greeted us. By 1 p.m. the place was filled up with merry happy families eating and smiling in the golden sunshine.
The food is classic bistro, based on good quality ingredients and cooked with practiced ease. They have three-course menus for 26 and 29 euros which represent a fair bargain compared to Paris. The fancy menu included items like oven-baked brioche has an egg on top and a good-sized gobbet of creamy foie gras inside. From the 26 euro menu I ordered beignets of boudin noir which were delicious too. Main courses of meats were huge and presented without fuss over creamy potato purée. My lamb was delicious but overwhelming after halftime but husband's dish of 72-hours slow-cooked beef stole the show, it came as a Flintstone-style hunk of meat looking very dry and black and charred at the edges, but the meat was juicy, very beefy. Its charred edges with its stippled layers of crisped skin, fats and meat were the best, outrageously sweet, meaty and rich; I actually closed my eyes in total pleasure.
Children menus run at 10 euros for two courses. V had ham and chips and I was happy to see that it was ham-on-the-bone and not processed ham. Dessert was either ice cream or chocolate mousse.
The chocolate mousse came in a huge glass. My baba au rhum was just as bountiful, with whipped cream and rum ice cream and a full glass of rum to pour over; the baba was unfortunately overbaked but it was not important by that stage because we were really full.
Update 1 June 2009: I forgot to mention that both menus comprised cheese course. They bring a platter and you help yourself to Pont d'Eveque, Camembert and Morbier.
Reservations are a must, we saw people being turned away. Come here for a great start to your Normandy holiday.
Chez le Bougnat
27 r G Manneville
T: 02 31 91 06 13