LA CAMBUSE DU SAUNIER – Salin de l’île St-Martin, route de l’Ayrolle, 11430 Gruissan
This is quite a different restaurant – well worth a visit. It is located at the salt production site in Gruissan. The view over the saltines is magnificent, especially in the beautiful weather we had.
They serve mainly fish and sea-food in a very simple setting, which are designed to look even more like sheds, which is quite charming. You sit on simple benches at very rough wooden tables. At every place there are a plate, glasses and cutlery wrapped in a kitchen towel like a bundle. You set your table yourself by using the towel as a small table cloth. You can choose to sit inside a glassed space, outside in shade or at the water on a jetty.
Their specialty is raw sea-food – mussels, clams and oysters but also shrimps and sea-snails. They also have number of warm dishes, mainly from the sea. A few of us had sea-food for starter and I had tiny small clams (tellines) cooked in butter with parsley and garlic, which were fantastic. All sea-food was also of high quality. My salt-baked whole fish was absolutely delicious. The desert of the house was also really good. The only dish that did not lived up to expectation was the salt baked duck breast. The plates were roasting hot, the meat was over-cooked and the vegetable dish was cold. They said they should take it away from the menu and they did not charge for it. This day they only served wine by carafe – no bottles. The wine was from the local wine yard – Cave de Gruissan – which is quite good.
If the food was of top quality the service was almost the opposite. The young waiter was trying to charm the ladies but it would have been better that he had done his job in a professional way. Misunderstanding of orders (majority of us were French) and long waiting. Half the party had finished the starters when the rest got theirs. We had to wait forever for the desert which was strange as the restaurant was more or less empty at that time.
In a building nearby there is a shop with very interesting local products – salt in all forms, marmalade, honey, chocolate, very good wine from the region and much more. This place is well worth a visit in the summer.
Revisited July 2014: First time we were here was on the very first opening day and there were a few flaws. This time everything was perfect. There are few places one can get fish and sea-food like here. Still my favourite is for starters is "cassoulet du telline", which is so tasty. Of course i had to have salt baked fish and our friend Anette had oysters as usual. This day the view was fantastic over "des salines" where the water was absolutely rose, tinted by the salt. This is a very attractive summer restaurant which is open all week in the summer and as long as they have customers in the day.
Revisited May 2015: As always the food was delicious and the environment fabulous, especially in nice weather. Our Swedish guests thought it was the top experience of the week. The combination of the rustic design of the restaurant and the very high quality food with a no-nonsense style is something extra.
Revisted May 2016: It is hard to get a table here nowadays - it has become very popular. I however dropped in on my own and managed to get a table a while ago. The week after i reserved a table for me and my wife. We had their specialty - salt-baked whole fresh lobster. Do I have to say it was really good?
Latest visit: April 2017
Number of visits: >10
Reasons for the ♥:
Sea-food of all kinds, natural and cooked. This is the place. Nice busy place and a very special rustic design in the middle of a salt production facility. You will remember this place and its food.