The fascination of Franco Japanese fusion cooking has captivated Alexandre Bourdas for some decades. He spent time in Japan and eventually decided to come back to France to open his own restaurant.
It began in Honfleur, along a small street off from the pretty bassin that has captivated artists and writers for centuries. Tall seven, even eight storied houses rise up from the cafes along the water-front, stacked together like colourful individual canvases in an art gallery's store depot.
SaQuaNa: standing for Saveuer, Qualite et Nature is the name of Alexandre's restaurant that soon gained the coveted Michelin two rosette status. The interior was refind elegance, the cooking sublime.
A few years ago Alexandre then turned it into a 'depot de pains-cafe-restaurant', a social hub that makes good food accessible to as many as possible.
Open from morning to night, Wednesday to Sunday. The earlier refind elegance now has a contemporary twist with warm wood tones, where glass-cloched patisseries (spied through the long windows) tempt passers-by to come inside. In the morning the smell of fresh bread lingers in the air outside and local devotees come in to buy a loaf along with pains au chocolat.
By lunchtime the kitchens are full of Alexandre's alchemy and with his clever tapas-like menu you can try a series of different delicacies.
By night, the lighting is soft and subtle, the mood young and infused with the expectation of diners for the unexpected cusine that Alexandre has become known for: Lotte Pochee or Pastilla de Canard. But my favourite dish is his "Arroz Negro": langoustines a l'ail, seiche, oignons nouveaux & citron jaune, seasme wasbai. Served in a white circular low dish, the squid-ink-stained rice is the perfect backdrop for his jewels of orange mussels, green coriander leaves and the warm whiteness of fresh garlic.
His current Michelin entry says:
The menu is varied, with influences that come from near and far, and always features signature dishes such as monkfish in coconut broth and combawa oil or his emblematic pascade. A confident and inspiring culinary offering.
Together with his wife, they have created a SaQuaNa for the new thoughtful and reflective era that is dawning post covid. Only at SaQuaNa would you find along the width of the back wall an extraordinary palisade of charred wood that glows like a black satin ball gown - nature burnt, black and charred, but where new life begins.