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Posts Tagged ‘Michelin star restaurants in the South of France’

Cuisine: French gourmet

Visit: July 2012

Price: Very high (main courses around €100, a la carte menu €180 without drinks).

Panoramic view overlooking the bar area with Cap Ferrat at the back

La Chèvre d’Or is a stunning luxurious hotel with perhaps an even more impressive location. Hundreds of tourists browse daily through the medieval Eze village high in the hills above Monaco and Cap Ferrat. Some visitors look for art, other for architecture and there are many who take the challenge of walking on the cobbled stones in nice (ladies high-heels) shoes as they head to La Chèvre d’Or’s gourmet restaurant. No wonder the restaurant attracts so many food connoisseurs. With two stars in the 2012 Michelin guide, panoramic views over the Mediterranean and picturesque Cap Ferrat with yachts cruising around its curves lining the sea, the Chèvre d’Or is on the list of must-dine-at places of many travelers to the French Riviera.

Chef: Fabrice Vulin is not only inventive, but he also creates novelties rewarding your taste buds with complex and enjoyable flavors. In one dish one can find dozens of interpretations of one central idea – be it vegetables or a meat dish.

Amouse bouche from the chef

Ambience:Elegant, romantic and breathtaking views. If you are lucky enough to sit at one of the window tables you will delight in a view that not many restaurants in the world can match. Reserving these tables though might be a tough nut to crack. Unless, you book it weeks ahead, and in high season even months ahead, you will be happy dining at any table in the restaurant as the food is so good. The walls are decorated with unique paintings reminding you that you are in one of the most important art villages in France. Since the restaurant is inside, you do not need to worry about mosquitos, wind or cold night temperatures which you might consider if dining at the hotel’s second, more casual, restaurant – the Eden. No need to wear a robe, but clean well-presenting clothes are appropriate. As you can see, the man on the picture below, got away even with a polo shirt!

Ambience at Le Chevre d'Or gastronomic restaurant

Le Chevre d’Or gastronomic restaurant inside

Food: Complex, unexpected and generous portions for a gastronomic restaurant. Dining at Le Chèvre d’Or does not come cheaply, on the other hand though there ar not many two Michelin-starred restaurants serving satisfying sizes of their portions. I can guarantee you will not leave the restaurant hungry, craving a pizza at a nearby stand. My American friends, who were dining with us, were astonished over their portions “at a French restaurant”. Comparing the dining experience to a Thanksgiving dinner, that was perhaps the highest compliment a restaurant can get.

Already the appetizers overwhelmed our senses with complexity and joy from each bite. The Capunatina d’Aubergineswas just incredible. I cannot remember when I had such an intricate dish, where each mouthful tasted slightly different! Well done Monsieur Vulin, since this was one of the best appetizers in my life. The vegetables, including the chopped aubergine on the base, were interspersed with various herbs, pickled seasonal mushrooms and even tiny piece of a cheese as one bite had revealed. Despite being an adventurous spirit in terms of food, I would order it again, if I went to the Chèvre d’Or.

Capunatina d’Aubergines

Another generous appetizer was Le loup, l’Araignee de mer, le caviar d’Aquitaine. Sea bass with a sea crab and caviar from Aquitaine. Looking like a slice of caviar cake with juicy crab lining, it was a quirky dish, yet so interesting. I wonder how many ingredients the chef had put into this creation. From seafood, vegetable, herbs, sauces and even flowers one could find numerous facets of the white Mediterranean wish, the sea bass, which was the core ingredient. Excellent with champagne or a mineral white wine such as Chablis or Puligny-Montrachet.

Le loup, l’Araignee de mer, le caviar d’Aquitaine

The main courses were no less elaborate. La sole de Méditerranée cooked in papillote (wrapped in baking paper) with Noilly Prat (dry vermouth from South of France) and lasagna aux coquillages(mussels) had a delicate texture enhanced by a creamy sauce with the Noilly Prat vermouth. The small lasagna accompanying the fish were exquisite. With mussels marrying flowers and herbs in one’s mouth, I would exceptionally legalize polygamy in this marriage of three perfectly matching souls. The seasonal mushrooms then were just like a best man to the ceremony of flavors. Assisting with their juicy and rich flavor in the lasagna church filled with mussels, flowers and herbs. The dish was about multiple flavors in a harmonious relationship.

Sole Mediterranee

The meat afficionados might be seduced by a Veau de Corréze. This veal from Corréze is roasted for two people and served with a cassoulet of vegetables, seasonal mushrooms and young potatoes. A portion for a lumberjack will surely not disappoint even the biggest eater and provides enough energy for the entire day. The meat was succulent, delicate and rich in flavor. As the waiter kept bringing small pots with accompanying vegetables, mushrooms and young potatoes, the brows of the two gentlemen kept rising. They have managed it well though, sated and sighting with pleasure.

Veal

With a desert tray approaching our table, I thought I might be the only one succumb to the temptation of the sweet delicacies. The sweet kingdom in front of our eyes seduced all four of us, including the two veal eaters. One forgets quickly how much he ate after seeing something so delicious. I got three pieces – a dark chocolate based one to appease my chocolate addiction, a delicious pistachio creamy sensation with berries and silver leafs, and a tapa-size cookie topped with two fruity layers and a cap of a red strawberry. They were all great, although the pistachio mini cake was my favorite.

The trio of deserts

Drinks: Going local we got a bottle of La Chapelle de Sainte Roseline 2007 Cru Classe, Côtes de Provance. This intense red wine was dominated by Grenache, typical for the South of France, and refreshed with a spicy kick if Syrah. Not an ideal but a fun and enjoyable wine for all of our dishes. The wine list features most of the big players in the wine world, although it is focused on France. I highly recommend to everyone to get an aperitif outside at the bar terrace just below the restaurant. The fresh breeze and sunset with all the colors flashing on the sky guarantee a very special start of your unforgettable dining experience.

Contact: +33(0)4 92 10 66 61

Opening hours and seasonal closure:  Open for lunch and dinner from March 08th until November 24th; closed from November 24th till March.

Address: LA CHÈVRE D’OR – Rue du Barri – 06360 Eze Village, France

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Cuisine: French gourmet

Visit: July 2012 & March 2013

Price: High (appetizers in the above €50 level and main courses above €70)

Chef: Jacques Chibois has brought the Royal Gray restaurant at the hotel Gray d’Albion in Cannes to two Michelin stars (the first place in town to achieve two stars), so opening his own place was the most sensible thing to do. In 1996, after buying an 18th-century country manor La Bastide Saint-Antoine, where once stayed prominent faces of a global fame from the Kennedy family to the rock legend Rolling Stones, he opened a restaurant and a small hotel under the same name. Only a year later, La Bastide Saint-Antoine, was awarded two Michelin stars (in 1997).

His five-star place soon became a member of the Relais & Chateaux and Relais Gourmand hotel groups.

The view from La Bastide Saint Antoine

Atmosphere: From October through April, the cosy and chic inside rooms with fireplaces host all the gourmet cuisine appreciating diners. The two restaurant rooms are elegant and comfortable, but once you stop by during the summer, you will be seduced by the outside garden dining area. Its panoramic view overlooking the Provencal landscape with the Mediterranean sea in the far horizon is a refreshing retreat for the soul. Your lunch or dinner suddenly becomes a spa treatment. Hearing just the birds, tirelessly buzzing crickets and muted voices of the fellow diners becomes a mind-detoxifying escape to the country for any city dweller. Dress fresh and elegant and you will be in harmony with the place. Ladies do not to bother with high-heels when eating in the outside area.

Food: Elegant, light and fresh. The chef’s philosophy is about playing with the gifts of the local abundant nature. One of his ideas is that “flowers have the same role as herbs and spices”. Therefore, as an homage to the town of Grasse famous for its perfumes and flowers, he includes flowers, spices and other aromatic ingredients in his culinary creations. He changes the ingredients seasonally, so if you come in summer you might still want to try it in the fall or winter with the more hearty dishes. The portions are quite small though so do not worry that you will leave feeling too heavy just like the animals ready for the winter sleep.

La Bolognaise de Homard aux Asperges

At the beginning of your meal, instead of a butter, you will be served a home-made olive oil from the grove on the property accompanied with crunchy bread crackers.

Later, an amuse bouche of daily specialties in tiny portions will tune your palate for the chef’s aromatic cooking performance.

During the summer I have discovered Monsieur Chibois’ cuisine with the great value Lunch menu for €59. Most of the appetizers are more expensive, so this three-course meal including a dessert is a great bargain for the quality you get. This menu is available daily except Sundays and holidays. It excludes beverages so if you are driving like me and stay with water and tea then it is a winner for you.

My starter of La Bolognaise de Homard aux Asperges, Coulis de Roquette et Salade, surprised me at first but after the first spoon-full it rewarded my taste buds with tantalizing complexity of each of its ingredients. My basic knowledge of French (the menu is not in English, although the staff helps you with translation) lead to an assumption that I will get something like a lobster salad with sauce Bolognaise. Instead, I got a light green pea colored gazpacho or in France known as veloute (cold liquid dish, soup) with lobster, green asparagus and a couple of roquette leafs. The dish was creamy, yet light, complex, but simple when each the lobster, asparagus and roquette was eaten separately with the cold soup and prepared from the finest local ingredients.

Les Petites Rouelles de Lotte à la Verveine

Being it lunch I went for a fish main course. The Les Petites Rouelles de Lotte à la Verveine et Santoline, Petits Oignons en Grassoise d’Olives Noires, Pois Gourmands Natures took my attention because of its Verveine sauce. Verveine is a popular leaf from a verveine tree used in tea infusions across France. Its citrusy, lemongrass aroma creates a refreshing feel. Indeed, the sauce was excellent. Combined with a side serving of cooked onion strips with chopped black olives and gourmet green pea husks it was enriching the meal with its authentic aromas.

Strawberries with sorbet and mascarpone

An exciting fan of seasonal fruit and strawberries I had the Les Fraises et Sorbet à la Gelée de Citronnelle Crème de Mascarpone à l’Amande as my desert. The strawberries were mind-blowing. They were somewhere between wild and normal strawberries. Slightly more sweet than regular ones and bigger in size than the wild strawberries. The sorbet was one of the best I have ever had. It was not too sugary, rather refreshing and faithful to its main ingredient-the fruit. The mascarpone was like a white bed in which the red heaven of berry creations was residing. Its creamy texture balanced the acidity from the berries and calmed down the coolness of the sorbet.

One of the chef’s signature dishes is the Langoustine Papillon in Orange Pulp Emulsion with Olive Oil and Basil. I have to try it next time, but if you do it before me, do not hesitate to comment and share  your impressions.

The chef has also two tasting menus of several courses. Scents and Flavors Menu for 169.00 € and Discovery Menu for 190.00 €, so if you want to pamper yourself even more and thoroughly explore the chef’s cooking.

During the winter the menu is more focused on local ingredients such as the truffles from Provance and winter vegetables.

Drinks: I peaked in the wine list and was impressed. Having a French focus the selection was wide and wines from all corners of France were having their ambassador on the list. Since I was driving I had only water and verveine tea with my desert, so I will add my suggestions in the future.

A great option for drivers and people not staying in the area is to stay overnight at the hotel and enjoy as much wine as one desires. Although, moderation in drinking as well as eating is best for not spoiling the following day. The Jacques Chibois light gourmet cooking will take care of the later, but how many bottles of wine you order is purely up to you.

Opening hours: Since it is a hotel, the lunch and dinner menus are available until guests are present. Although it is more flexible, do not expect to arrive at 10:30 pm and start your dinner.

Contact: +33(0)4 93 70 94 94; info@jacques-chibois.com

Address: 48 Avenue Henri Dunant, 06130, Grasse, France

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Cuisine: Mediterranean gourmet fish and seafood

Visit: July 2012 ( since 2008 I have been returning there for the delicious fish every summer season).

Price: Very high (the best fish does not come cheaply and the fishermen need to be rewarded for their super early working hours, appetizers between €20-75, fish around €80 per 500g – a big fish can reach €300 and above)

View from Bacon restaurant

Bacon is a family success on an international scale. Over 60 years this restaurant has been attracting the rich and famous as well as seasonal visitors of the area appreciating the highest quality of fish and seafood. Bacon’s proximity to the legendary Hotel du Cap (Eden Roc) brings a considerate proportion of the hotel’s clientele to the restaurant. If you stay there you might see the people you met during your afternoon by the hotel’s pool. No wonder, Bacon’s fish and seafood is better than the gastronomic restaurant at Eden Rock can ever aspire to. The ambiance is also much more comfortable, friendly and not too formal.

Atmosphere: Romantic, relaxed and comfortable. Bacon prides itself on having one of the best views on the entire French Riviera. Overlooking the ancient port of Antibes with rocky mountains at the horizon and blue sea of the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) in the forefront, the vista cannot be more appealing. The family members welcome you at the door and take you to the table. Everyone feels pampered here by the attentive staff. It is very relaxed, but the service is highly professional. For lunch the dress code is more casual, just do not walk in flip-flops straight from the beach. A summer dress and light pants will make it work for this elegant yet fresh ambiance. In the evening men should wear a jacket and women elegant dress or pants.

Seabass grandmother style at Bacon

Food: From Bouillabaisse to local seasonal fish and seafood, everything is of the highest quality and prepared according to the years-proven recipes of the family. The chef today is not a member of the family, but he inherited the cooking secrets and every evening creates new amouse bouche as well as occasionally also new dishes. Serge Philippin has been the chef at the Restaurant de Bacon since 1978 and had a merit in winning a star from the Guide Michelin in 1985.

From the appetizers my favorites are the refreshing Poisson cru au citron et aux herbes. A thinly sliced delicate white fish marinated softly in lemon juice, olive oil and herbs. After a hot day at the beach this an excellent light starter.

Staying on the lighter side the Fricassée de Langouste tiède à l’estragon is a perfect match to a mineral white burgundy or champagne. The crayfish is lightly sauteed with tarragon and served on a bed of green salad with olive oil. Again this dish is perfectly balanced, soft and delicate.

Fricasse of red mullet at Bacon

Also from the warm appetizers and perhaps the most creative is Fricassée de rougets tièdes à l’estragon. The mellow pieces of red mullet are sprikled with tarragon, lettuce, crispy onions, fresh and juicy tomatoes. It is a heavenly dish and one of the best ways of serving red mullet I have seen so far.

Sea bass ravioli

An absolute gourmet treat is the Délice de loup aux Truffes du Haut Var. It is one of the new creations of the chef. The thin ravioli are filled with a super soft mash of sea bass with truffles and bathe in a creamy yet light sauce with chopped vegetables. 

Similar to the previous dish are Ravioles de Langouste dans son fumet. A slight upgrade of the filling in the form of crayfish cooked in its juice will appeal to seafood lovers. Again it is very delicate so you will not be stuffed after this starter despite it looks quite big in size on the plate. 

Ravioli stuffed with crayfish

For the Foie gras afficionados this, in some countries (UK, California in the US) controversial delicacy, is served in the form of pâté in home style as is typical in French restaurants. After all Bacon is not only about fish as the produce of the land features on the menu either in the form of side dishes, garnishes or even main meals on their own.

As my main course I mostly get fish, only sometimes I steer into lobster, especially when the rare Mediterranean lobster is on the daily catch menu.

The fish can be grilled with fennel, steamed, cooked in a papillote. It is served with olive oil, a basil butter sauce, a chervil Butter sauce or in a broth. It is wise to ask the waiter what fish he would suggest on the day as it varies depending on the catch. If I am not in an adventurous mood I stick with sea bass cooked in grandmother style. It is very fresh, the fish stands out next to the vegetable condiments and it is served with some special pasta, potatoes or vegetable side dish. The chef is very creative when it comes to this part of the dish so I never get tired of the sea bass as it is each time slightly different. The fish though stays excellent!

Bacon often also has a dorade, sea bream, red snapper, turbot and then seasonal local fish.

I might disappoint you but I also have to praise the deserts. They are quite light, fresh and often served with fruit. I love the Millefeuille with light cream and forest strawberries and if I am too full and the season for forest berries is in full I get a portion of wild strawberries.

Millefeuille with light cream and forest strawberries

Drinks: The wine list is very good, surely worthy the Bacon’s reputation. It is purely French – from the hight of Burgundy’s legendary producers Romanée Conti and Domaine d’Auvenay to more sober Côtes de Provence you will find something to suit your budget. A glass of Champagne or a luscious Bellini as an aperitif and intense Armagnac for a digestif, the drinks offer is focused on matching well with the great food. A cup of verveine or camomille tea to round up your spectacular dinner will be served with home made cookies. Especially I love these thin crispy ones with almond shavings.

Opening season and days: March-October open daily except Mondays and for lunch also on Tuesdays.

Contact: Tel: +33(0)4 93 61 50 02; email: contact@restaurantdebacon.com

Address: Boulevard de Bacon, Cap d’Antibes, 06160, France

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