Takeaway Oysters from Garnier: A, and an Amazing Breakfast in Brittany

January 29, 2010

Since more and more visitors to Paris are bypassing hotels and renting apartments, I wanted to share a piece of delicious information that many of them people might not know, which is that most restaurants that have oysters stands out front are happy to prepare a plateau de fruits de mer, or shellfish platter, to take away.

This is why a styrofoam oyster tray lurks in the alarmingly crowded closet in my bedroom. Just down the street from me is the Garnier brasserie, which is open seven days a week and reliably serves some of the best oysters in Paris. I reuse the tray, which I obtained the first time I ever ordered takeaway oysters from Garnier, for ecological reasons, and oysters are a regular Sunday night treat when we’re too busy to cook but want to give ourselves a good treat. Last Sunday on the way back from a cocktail party in the suite of a friend who was staying at the Plaza Athenee hotel, we stopped at Garnier on the way home, presented our tray and waited as one of the expert and amiable shuckers there artfully opened a dozen plump, creamy Gillardeau oysters, a dozen plein de mer, or Breton oysters that are like iodine rich shots of the sea, and arranged a little pink crown of cooked shrimp on a bed of ice scattered with lemon halves. He also gave us a big dab of their delicious ivory colored mayonnaise, and off we went after tipping him a couple of Euros.

Knowing that we’d be having an oyster feast, I’d put an excellent bottle of la Poussie Sancerre on ice before we went out, and had also taken several Jean-Yves Bordier butters (available at La Grande Epicerie on the Left Bank and Gourmet Lafayette on the Right Bank, as well as at the excellent creperie the Breizh Cafe in the Marais) out of the fridge to soften and spread on the delicious new lemon-zest spiked rye bread that baker Arnaud Delmontel is baking and selling in his shop at 39 rue des Martyrs in the 9th arrondissement.

Delicious, healthy, fast, festive and economical, this is one of the best takeaway meals in not only Paris, but the whole world as far as I’m concerned. Check with the oyster stand nearest you to see if they do takeaway and enjoy a similar feast for less than the price of a restaurant meal.

Note, too, that Garnier has a charming miniature oyster bar just inside its front door and distinct from the main restaurant, for anyone who’d rather eat their bivalves on the spot.

Garnier, 111, rue St-Lazare, 8th, Tel. 01-43-87-50-40. Metro: Saint Lazare. Open daily. Plateau de Fruits de Mers to takeaway 70.50 Euros.

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Even after almost twenty-five years in France, I remain an incorrigible breakfast lover, which is why I often wonder why this potentially wonderful meal is so often a mediocre after thought in France. To be sure, you can hunt down some terrific croissant and viennoiseries forbreakfast in Paris, but most cafe and hotel breakfasts are a disappointment, with certain exceptions.

This is why I’m on a constant hunt for memorably good French breakfasts, and not long ago, I found a real grand slam set of a fast breakers at the Domaine de Rochevilaine, a seaside hotel with a stunningly beautiful setting in Brittany.

Here they offer four different gourmet room service breakfasts, and we sampled two. The Saveurs Retrouvees, or Flavors (of Brittany) Rediscovered, included:

Toasted freshly baked brioche, Jean-Yves Bordier salted butter (maybe the best in the whole world), freshly made fruit puree, faisselle (a light fresh cheese), organic eggs baked in buttermilk, crepes with caramel cream, baked apple with cinnamon and honey, organic vegetable stock, Plancoet mineral water and coffee or tea.

Ever gluttonous, I chose the Accords Marins l’Amor, or the seafood breakfast:

Marinated salmon and salmon eggs, three Penerf (local) oysters, crab meat and cauliflower taboule, Bordier butter, freshly baked bread, freshly made yogurt in an earthenware pot, seaweed cream, and grapefruit segments with Matcha tea.

Needless to say both of us were in heaven, especially since these delicious growning generous and profoundly Breton feasts were gently priced at 20 Euros. Next time round I’ll likely try the Terroir Breton L’Argoat:

Breton cake with jam filling, old fashioned oatmeal, white ham braised on the bone, soft-boiled eggs with herb gelee, Bordier butter, fruit puree, faiselle and fresh apple juice.

The fourth menu, L’Eveil en Fete (“Wakeup and Celebrate”), even included lobster with wheat semolina with almonds and kouign amann (the flakey Breton pastry) with apples.

The fact that these feasts were served overlooking on a private flagstone terrace overlooking the ocean was the cherry on the cake, and the food was so good and so carefully considered that it really made me wonder why more French hoteliers don’t do something similar. In the meantime, breakfast at La Domaine de Rochevilaine, a lovely place for a long weekend out of Paris, is well worth traveling for.

Domaine de Rochevilaine, Pointe de Pen-Lan, Billiers, Tel. 02-97-41-61-61, email:domaine@domainerochevillaine. www.domainerochevillaine.com

  • Alec Lobrano

    Hello!

    Just read your post about oysters from Garnier and had to share – we got a HUGE plateau from Jarrasse (In Neuilly – Michel Rostaing) for New Year’s eve and it was extraordinary – and not more expensive that if we’d gone to Dab…I’m very interested to go and actually try the restaurant now…

    January 29, 2010 | Jaime A.

    Hi Jaime,

    Jarrasse is another excellent address for fruits de mer takeaway, and if you go to Dab, please let us know what you find.

    All best, Alec

    January 29, 2010 | alec Lobrano

  • My last trip to Paris was (sob!) nine years ago. I was extremely pregnant, but determined to join my husband on a boondoggle of a business trip that would give us five whole days in my favorite city. Our hotel was across the street from Garnier, and we ended up having two delicious meals there…I’m glad to hear it lives up to my memories. I’m (finally!) coming back to Paris next Month, and may have to make a pitstop at Garnier for some oysters and champagne…Of course, I’ve just ordered your book, so I know I’ll have too many temptations for my too-short stay…I loved your work for Gourmet, and am really glad to have found your website.

  • Alexander Lobrano

    Dear Paige,

    Garnier is still wonderful, and they’re some other great new places to try in Paris, too. AMong them L’Agrume, Yam’Tcha, Frenchie and L’Epigramme, all of which I’ve reviewed here.

    All best, Alec