We sometimes stop for a coffee or quick beer at La Case on our way walking back to Anse Varta from Centreville, getting a cheery bon jour from the bum hanging out across the road, you'd be happy if you're in the finest real estate in town.
La Case is the perfect midpoint to stop to watch the boats bob about on the bay, the dog walkers do their duty and discuss what you are going to eat for dinner that night or lunch the next day. Lavazza coffee is the drop for the caffeine needy and Havannah or Heineken are on tap if you want a beer. This is also a live music venue, with acts playing mostly on the weekends.
As a party of five we're lucky to get a table, the joint is packed for Friday lunch, which is serious business in Noumea. The lunch menu is off the specials board or pizza menu.
No frills bread basket.
The marmite du pêcheur has nothing to do with pommy vegemite and everything to do with fish soup with mussels and vegetables. It's a hearty wet weather feed, simple in flavour. That favour drops the clutch and revs like a Citroen on a hill start with a learner driver when you throw in the rich thick mustardy buttery side sauce. Chunks of soft soupy veggies were a welcome reprieve from a week of protein and lard.
Inside the marmite (cooking pot).
The saute de porc byriani is good but Shawn wishes he was man enough to order the leek quiche. There's nothing worse than eaters remorse, spending the whole time at the table and the rest of the afternoon regretting your order, especially when you blow a fair chunk of change. While the Asian style pork was excellent, it's just that we can get this at home any day. It was the word 'byriani' that sold us down the plug hole, we were hoping for some amazing Frenchy creamy spicy rice concoction, but it was basically steamed long grain rice flecked with parsley. After years of biryani hunting we've concluded that the best versions always come out of a Muslim kitchen, that might be pigeonholing but we're happy to stand by it.
The entrecote grillee (grilled steak) is rated as pretty good, not a world beater but it made an old carnivore happy. It came with two sauces, pepper and roquefort blue cheese, served on the side as steak sauce always should be. Frites of course.
Just like our eating experiences in Paris we find each meal has it's share of hits and air guitar arm waving joy. The poelon d'escargot (snails) went number one with a bullet, served sizzling hot in oil with garlic and parsley, so hot Alison blistered the roof of her mouth. Still it was dish of the day!
Dessert board, the hardest choice.
We were going to stick to one course but we had to have a crack at the fromage blanc which we've been experimenting with in the holiday kitchen (not the bedroom). Fromage blanc is like cottage cheese crossed with yoghurt in taste and texture, it's a cross dressing fromage used in sweet and savoury dishes. Add raspberry coulis and you have a light, tart and refreshing desert.
Cafe Gourmand is always a great option, an espresso shot with usually three, in this rare case four random desserts: creme brulee, choc mousse, a little citron flavoured cake and a macaron just for food bloggers.
The bill for five people. about $50 a head including drinks and dessert. Yes Noumea is called expensive but this isn't getting far off a 'casual diner' in Sydney price.
The cafe is split in two with a bar area (with smoking) and a lower tabled eating area. When the plastic blinds are down the smoke can get a little much.
Restaurant La Case is at 15 Rue Jules Garnier, Baie de L'Orphelinat. Phone +687 28 26 93