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Posts Tagged ‘contemporary restaurants in St Tropez’

Cuisine: French contemporary, seafood

Visit: July 2010

Price: High if you get the steak or seafood platter, which goes to very high depending on how many of you are sharing it.

L’Escale – the legendary St Tropez establishment

Atmosphere: On a beach day and night – that is L’Escale. Sand covers the floors of the white decorated restaurant, but ladies can switch from flip-flops to sexy high heels as this place is all about fun, great food and in later hours dancing on the white sofas lining elegantly along the walls. It can get pretty wild here late at night. If you come around 9pm though be relaxed and bring your all family over as it is a refreshing hangout. Sitting in the forefront part of the restaurant is undoubtedly the utmost holiday experience – an open roof, views of the super-busy St Tropez port and dipping your toes into the sandy floors cannot be more “vacation!!” screaming. A party frock or a comfy linen pants, both will make you feel in accord with the place.

Food: Seafood rules at L’Escale. Sharing the Seafood platter is a favorite starter or a main course for many tables. The lobster and crab are particularly delicious. The cra is a lot of work though, so you might end up cracking lots of shells and get just a tiny piece of meat.

Not in love with seafood? Then a Beef Steak or Chicken will be the right thing for you. There are also some Japan-inspired appetizers such as Tuna tartar, which has been my long-time favorite appetizer. Thinly chopped tuna is accompanied by tasty sauce and condiments making it an ideal light dish before going out to party.

Seafood platter with lobster and oysters

L’escale’s signature dish on the menu are the Fried squids. They are tender and meaty, not chewy as squids tend to be in most of pubs, bars and fast-food establishments. Aromatic with herbs and not too ‘bready’ as the crumble is just sensibly coating the squid rings. Squeeze of lemon adds even more freshness and a sip of a crisp white wine a party feel (ok beer is great with this meal too). A glass of Sauvignon Blanc from Loire like Sancerre is my favorite with this kind of seafood.

L’Escale’s squids

Another fishy starter I recommend even as a main course, if you had too much seafood from the platter, is the Smoked salmon with blini and condiments. The intense smoked fish goes perfectly with the pancake-like blini and herb-infused cream sauce. I had a mineral Chablis from Burgundy with it and was in high spirits while enjoying this timeless dish. If you decide to dance at this point, this is perfect dish to take. It is cold so no worries about eating it for an hour or more.

Smoked salmon with a giant blini

Drinks: Great wine list for a restaurant with party atmosphere. There is a great bar with a Dj playing great music in the middle of the scene, so it is worth to have an aperitif before your dinner or lunch (the lunch has a different breeze though – it is more relaxed). There is champagne by the glass and myriad of cocktails to choose from. The wine list is French and we usually get a white (Chardonnay) or red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) or white wine (Sauvignon Blanc) from Loire Valley since they go very well with the seafood-oriented food on the menu.

Opening hours: Lunch and dinner (late-second seating after 10:30pm) daily in the season from April to October.

Contact: Tel: +33 4 94 97 00 63

Address: 9 Quai Jean Jaurès, 83 990 Saint Tropez, France

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Cuisine: contemporary mediterranean – French and Italian

Visit: July 2012

Price: medium to high (appetizers – €10-20; mains €19 and above with average around €25 and lobster according to weight above €50)

Le Strand is conveniently located near the St Tropez’ Citadelle, away from the town’s crowds. It still though a cool place, just not as noisy as the restaurants in the port. Another big plus is its courtyard where eating becomes a refreshing escape from a hotel room. Its fashionable sister restaurant in Saint Barth’s (Caribbean) is not known for excellent food, but The Strand in St Tropez amends the reputation with high quality seafood, fish as well as meat and fresh vegetables.

Interior of The Strand from access-sttropez.com

Atmosphere: Modern elegant inside and refreshing on the terrace under the trees where a Dj plays ear-pleasing lounge tunes each night of the summer season. During the summer most people prefer the outside seating, therefore it is better to mention your desire when making your reservation. The service is very friendly and accommodating. Do not hesitate to ask for a better table if the restaurant is not full yet.

Food: Modern yet with a traditional French and Italian base. The olive bread is fresh and crunchy, making for a perfect teaser before your dinner. Just do not eat more than one bun and leave some space for the good food that is about to come.

From the more local French appetizers I like the Asparagus served with poached egg and truffles. Enjoyable with a glass of champagne or a crisp dry white wine, this dish breaks the wine and food pairing guides’ misconception that eggs go hardly with wine. Adding zesty and crunchy asparagus as well as aromatic black truffles makes

Asparagus with poached egg and truffles

The Italian Burrata mozzarella with tomato salad is incredible here. A creamy texture of the cheese and an original take on the tomatoes traditionally accompanying this starter make it a hard-to-resist temptation.

The fish on the menu is all local and fresh. The Sea bass and barigoule artichoke may look a bit dull, but it is very good. The fish has a delicate texture, the vegetables are cooked to crispness and the soft artichoke balances the dish out with its mellowness. An olive oil, onion and chopped veggies-based condiment adds a bit of zest and juice to the fish, but it did not work for me with the vegetables served with the dish.

Sea bass with artichoke

For those not finding their favorite on the menu, the fish of the day are presented by your waiter on a tray before you order, so you might find your catch there. Encountering the robust lobster, one hardly resists. The Grilled lobster is excellent. Delicate, juicy and melting in your mouth you might even skip the sauces served with it. If you are lucky on the day you dine at The Strand, the lobster can be huge so get ready for it!

Waitress offering daily fish & lobster

From the sides going for the Mashed potatoes with truffles will not disappoint you, unless you are a fan of a super-creamy and buttery à la Joel Robuchon take on this traditional French accompaniment to a meal. At the Strand the mash is more of a home style with crumbles of potatoes traceable in your mouth, the truffles add a festive touch.

Beef and veal dominate the meat dishes on the menu. The Italian Beef Rossini is very good.

I rarely get a dessert here, not that they would look unappetizing, but my favorite ice cream seller in France (Barbarac) is just a five-minute stroll along the port, so I must keep my sweet tooth on leash until then.

Drinks: The bar (Champagne lounge) is convenient for a drink while you might be waiting for your table. I have never had a cocktail there, but the champagne and French wines by the glass will certainly uplift your spirit before a dinner. The wine list is all French wine and champagne with medium high price points prevailing. When we eat seafood we get a bottle of Burgundy and when meat then we tend to go for Cotes du Rhone or Bordeaux.

Opening hours: in season from May-October: every evening from 7:30 pm

Contact: +33 4 94 97 43 22

Address: 2 Rue du Petit Bal, 83990 Saint-Tropez, France

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The view from La Réserve Ramatuelle

Cuisine: French gourmet, mediterranean

Visit: July 2012

Price: Very high

Chef: The chef Eric Canino is known as one of the pioneers of healthy French cuisine. In the fashion of the legendary three-Michelin chef Allain Ducasse, he also tries to create light and intensely flavored dishes. Canino goes as far as not using butter and other animal fats in his cooking. Only Mediterranean olive oil is used and in desserts he prefers raw sugar to refined.

Light appetizer

Atmosphere: Calm, meditative and fresh.

The luxurious hotel La Réserve Ramatuelle has recently claimed the highest recognition a hotel in France can claim – the status of a Palace. The hotel is located on a stunning property with views across a calming bay right behind the busy beaches of Pamplone. The views can be appreciated the most from the hotel’s roof bar. The restaurant itself has nice vista through the large glass windows inside, but the terrace is more secluded offering peaceful dining experience. The smart modern architecture respecting its surrounding natural environment is refreshing and light.

Food: In the same spirit of freshness and lightness is build the restaurant’s menu. Generally low in calories and looking fabulous as those consuming this kind of food often embrace in their daily routine. Balancing a low-calorie meal though is challenging. There are some chefs achieving excellent flavors in not-fattening dishes. For example Patrick Raingeard currently at Riviera’s Cap d’Estel restaurant is master of light and delicious cooking. Unfortunately, the chef Eric Canino is not one of them. As far as my last dining experience goes, the only tasty thing from the entire dinner was a cheese plate we had to order to add some satisfying flavor to our evening meal. For clarity, I am a big fan of healthy food – fruits, vegetables, vegetal fats and fish are on my daily menu – but it must taste good.

Lobster carpaccio

My appetizer of Fresh Tomatoes and Strawberries was almost flavorless and tasted weird with the tomatoes having an off-feel. Although, the dish looked amazing, with tomato gazpacho on the side, a plate crowned with strawberries and crystalized petals on a bed of chopped tomatoes fixed in a fine jelly, I could not finish it, because of how bad it was. As luck would have it, we ordered a nice bottle of red wine, so I sipped on it biting into a piece of bread dipped in olive oil. The bread was quite nice, but far from even getting close to the excellent oven-roasted bread from Le Club 55 on the beach near St Tropez.

Tasting the Blue Lobster Carpaccio from my partner was a bit more pleasant for my taste buds, yet I have had so many better lobsters in nearby St Tropez (at The Strand, L’Escale), that I would not drive to La Réserve  in Ramatuelle to have it. For €60 it was not worth it and in the end even not worth the calories as one could eat something else instead.

A slightly better was the Langoustines from Brittany. Served both raw and cooked with side portions of beetroot and seasonal mushroom mille feuilles and a tiny stroke of Rhubarb dressing, they looked like a piece of art one would hang on a wall. The langoustines were nice, soft, but not overwhelming with richness of flavors. The cooked pieces were better than the raw tartar “bejewelled” with flowers like a child’s creation on a play field.

Langoustine

The main courses were not much of an upgrade in terms of joy for our palates. Moreover, the Squids cooked in olive oil, stuffed with prawns and ginger, vegetables and all mixed up like a paella in rice looked much less appealing. It was a very average dish, but I would rather had that one on the streets of Barcelona then at a gastronomic restaurant paying double for it.

Disappointed and desperate for some tasty food, we ordered a plate of cheese. Finally we got something bursting with flavors! The only drawback was the restaurant’s service as we were served the cheese plate without any bread. After a while trying to catch our waiter, we got a piece of the same bread we had with the olive oil before. Well, one could only dream about some crisp English crackers or a selection of fruit bread, both so perfect with a good cheese.

Cheese plate at La Réserve Ramatuelle

Drinks: Getting an aperitif at a bar had turned for me into having an after-meal drink instead. I had ordered a glass of Hungarian Furmint served as one of the three wines by the glass. Praising the dry Furmints I had during my trip in Budapest years ago in front of the waiter as I was ordering, I expected to enjoy a nice crisp and refreshing wine. Yet, when I sipped the sweet sensation I knew that this was something to have with a cheese or dessert after one’s meal and not before. So I had it – a dessert before the dinner. I can see my father scratching his head, as it was him, who had always warned us kids from having sweets before eating lunch or dinner.

The wine list at the restaurant is good though. The owner of the hotel also owns Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux and a winery in Tokaji so the list had some interesting pieces from his properties. Otherwise, the list was focused on French wines. We went for a lovely Gevrey-Chambertin from Burgundy. It had almost 12 years in the bottle so it was well mature and I dare to say in its peak. It was balanced and concentrated, but not the best match for our seafood and vegetable dishes. A great wine though so it was a pleasure to drink it on its own.

Opening hours: Lunch: from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm ; Dinner: from 07:30 pm to 10:00 pm (also a buffet breakfast for hotel guests)

Contact: +33 4 94 44 94 44

Address: Chemin de la Quessine; 83350 Ramatuelle, France

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