Au Pied de Cheval is usually our first stop upon arrival in Cancale. This was the case last Thursday, too. Instead of dropping our bags at the hotel, we parked the car in front of this charming “oyster house”. During the entire journey from Paris we had been dreaming and talking about les bulots (whelks) and les huîtres (oysters) so we knew what we wanted to order. You don’t need to follow our habits –by all means go and explore all types of seafood (the menu is in English!)– but this is what we ordered last Thursday (and what we usually order):
Starter: we begun with a whelk and pink prawn plate to share (10€). The plate comes with a bowl of mayonnaise.
We also ordered a bottle of Muscadet Sur Lie for 18€. This dry white wine comes from the western side of the Loire Valley and is usually served with oysters (and seafood in general). Main course: we ordered two portions of une douzaine (a dozen) of huîtres creuses. At Au Pied de Cheval, the oysters are sold by la douzaine, and there are two types of oysters: huîtres creuses that are bowl shaped and huîtres plates that are flat. We prefer the bowl-shaped ones, but again, it is up to your taste!
After choosing the type, we needed to choose the size. Number 5 is the smallest oyster and number 00 the largest. We ordered a dozen of number 0 and a dozen of number 1. Again, up to your taste! To put things in perspective, the common size sold at any “standard” restaurant is usually number 2… Our oysters were really big, and yet I usually like the number 0 and 1, I now think we should have maybe chosen something smaller. I explained in Eating oysters in months without “r” that this time of the year (the summer) makes oysters milky and soft in France, and I believe that smaller oysters would have better hidden these aspects that do affect oysters’ taste and texture. If you are unsure which number to choose, ask for advice! Tip: Oysters in Bretagne are often eaten with either lemon or red wine vinegar with shallot. If the oysters are at the table, bread is served, but there is no red vinegar, ask for vinaigre aux échalotes. Of course you can eat oyster without anything, but for example I like mixing: one oyster with nothing, the next one with vinegar…
Our meal was more than sufficient, and tasty. Au Pied de Cheval has been consistently good over the years and that is why we keep returning there. Another tip to share is that if you fancy a more restaurant-like setting, ask for a table upstairs. Downstairs is more like an oyster bar and since the door is open almost all the time, it can get chilly and you should dress warmly. In general do not wait for an overly enthusiastic welcome or amazing service –just focus on eating your delicious oysters and you will be happy!