Oysters and Chill at La Capitainerie

On a sunny Saturday, beaux’s friends were in Bordeauxtown for a visit. We were looking for a chill spot for a bit of midday wine drinking and oyster binging, where we could catch up on the past few months and share stories about our new life here. La Capitainerie near Place du Palais fit the bill perfectly.

Big wooden tables and cozy chairs, a bar nearby and an open kitchenette. Two young guys running the show. The wine list is perfectly matched to its seafood-centric menu – all French, but from several different regions, mostly white (except, oddly, a Hungarian Tokaji dry Furmint). A chalkboard lists the day’s offering, almost all fish or shellfish, but some cooked dishes like baked camembert, lasagna and linguini with shrimp on there too. There’s lots of little things to snack on and share, like salmon rillettes, crab claws, octopus salad and langoustines. Everything is served pretty simply and, as always, with a side of bread.

We ordered our food and a bottle of wine but since service was particularly slow (in a laid-back, casual kind of way) we ended up ordering another and chatting for even longer as we awaited the main course. La Capitainerie is perfect for lazy weekend lunches when you really have nothing else to do or nowhere else to be than in the company of friends or family, enjoying some light marine gems and getting just a bit tipsy on crispy, fresh white wines.

A couple of oysters to start, around 3 or 4 in size, from Arcachon nearby. Then a plate of grilled shrimps, juicy and sweet and sprinkled with piment d’Espelette for heat. Everybody’s favorite, though, were the bulots mayo. These gummy little snails came in a bowl with delicate metal piques with which to stab the flesh and twist it until it snaps out of its spiral shell. The snails were served with a ramekin of fluffy house-made mayonnaise flavored with a hint of whole-grain mustard.

All but one of us ordered the salmon tartare flavored with shallot, parsley, piment d’Espelette and lemon for a beautiful, balanced finish. The fish was chopped into rough little cubes that stuck together nicely for a satisfying mouthful. A bit fatty for additional flavor and decadence, but with any remaining “greasy” feeling perfectly cleaned up by the citrus in the seasoning. Awesome also in portion size, this cylindrical protein bomb had a petite 4” diameter, the perfect amount for a boost of energy without weighing me down for the rest of the afternoon. I’d recommend asking the guy what dry white goes best with this tartare. But whatever we were having was the perfect match.

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