My husband and I wanted to take our good friend out for lunch on his last day with us in France. Knowing that he really enjoyed seafood, we asked a few locals where we could find the best fruits de mer in the picturesque seaside town of Saint Jean de Luz. Without hesitation, all of them answered Le Kaïku on Rue de la République. I was surprised by how reasonable the lunchtime menu/prix fixe of 24 Euros for three courses seemed, so I peeked my head in the door and was warmly greeted by the owner and his wife who immediately offered us a table pour trois personnes.
Seeing as I was lunching with two guys who were completely focused on their seafood, I decided to reserve my comments on how charmed I was by the restaurant’s intruiging ambiance. The old stone walls were decorated with unique modern art pieces by one of the owner’s friends and Le Kaïku’s logo of three intersecting, fragmented lines in green and white lent continuity to the signs, menu, and even the plates. I was contemplating all of this while sipping a fantastic kir vin blanc (dry white wine with a bit of crème de cassis– black current liquor), when both my husband and our friend, who were splitting a 75 ml carafe of Sancerre (white) wine, blurted out how much they loved the décor- which had apparently won these manly men over as well. As I discovered after lunch, this unique, pleasing aesthetic even extended into the small yet regal bathrooms.
Our server was attentive and negotiated culinary linguistic nuances in both French and English quite skillfully. Her quiet, helpful demeanor put us all at ease and we joked with her periodically throughout the meal. Our gustatory adventure started with a breathtaking amuse-bouche (a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre selected by a restaurant’s chef), consisting of mussels in aspic topped with a cucumber slice and a goat cheese, crab-flavored mousse.
The first course was half a dozen huitres– oysters on the half shell and lemon-vinegar sauce with chives. Next, we indulged in a large portion of shrimp and asparagus risotto, peppered with basil and garlic and topped with a teriyaki foam. All of the dishes were prepared using fresh, quality products. Our waitress informed us that the entire menu changes seasonally, and the lunch and dinnertime menus/prix fixes differ each day. The meal came to a close with a sorbet trio of apple, black current, and pineapple- the perfect dessert on a hot June day. We ended with a round of café crèmes (espresso and steamed milk) – which were lovely, and fueled us for our busy afternoon ahead.
As the locals will readily admit, Saint Jean de Luz is not known for its fine dining. However, Le Kaïku seems to be the exception that proves the rule. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in this lovely town one day, head straight for the green awning on Rue de la République for lunch or dinner and you won’t be disappointed.
17, rue de la République
64500 St. Jean de Luz
Tel: 05 59 26 13 20