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The chef Daniel Bolud

Cuisine: Gastronomic French with a modern American twist.

Visit: September 2012

Price: Very high (Eating at a three Michelin restaurant in New York has its price).

Atmosphere: Classy, sophisticated and high-end. You better dress up for this occasion. Jacket and tie are required. Daniel has been occupying the top dining spot place in New York for many years and its clientelle is top-notch. There are two areas to eat there. A more casual room right next to the bar and an elegant, expensive looking main dining room. We ate at the more relaxed bar area as it also felt a bit younger and is much easier to book than a table at the main dining room. The food is same though.

The elegant interior at Daniel

Food: Playful, innovative and not too bold. I was quite surprised by the underplayed intensity of flavours in all dishes I ordered. The American palate usually craves something bolder, saltier, fattier and sometimes even creamier, but the chef Daniel Bolud took a slightly European approach in his recipes at his flagship restaurant Daniel.

Starting with a seasonal dish of the QUARTET OF ECKERTON HILL FARM HEIRLOOM TOMATOES I expected to test the chef’s cooking art to see what he can do with one vegetable – the tomato. And a test it was. I was served a chilled tomato soup, an eggplant and tomato sorbet, yellow tomato coulis salad and a basil pistou confit with Brunet cheese. All creative and interesting, but not very tasty for my palate. For some reason I found the dish quite boring.

Four tomato variations

My partner was more lucky as he started with MAINE PEEKYTOE CRAB SALAD served with pickled spicebush berries, celery shavings and walnut oil. The delicate crab meat was rolled in a thin slice of cucumber and drizzled with walnut oil which elegantly matched the crab and balanced its seafood rustic nature. The veggies added crisp and refreshing zing. In this dish the chef’s excellent balancing skill had sparkled. If I see it on the menu next time, I would not think twice and ordered this Crab Salad.

MAINE PEEKYTOE CRAB SALAD

Moving to the main courses with SLOW BAKED THINLY SLICED STRIPED BASS topped with a cucumber daikon salad, lump fish caviar and wild spearmint-kaffir lime gremolata, I learned that my choice was unfortunate once again. The flavours of the partially cooked fish did not integrate well with the fresh cucumber daikon salad, although both were very good. the combination of ingredients in this dish just did not charm my palate at all.

Slowly baked striped bass carpaccio

On the other hand, my partner’s DUO OF ELYSIAN FIELD LAMB CHOPS served with with roasted fennel and arugula salad was delicious. The confit ribs were glazed with fig balsamic and the lamb’s meaty nature worked very well with Tarbais bean purée.

During this first and so far the last dining experience at the famous Daniel restaurant in New York I have learned that I need to know what the chef’s strengths are so I can choose wisely and enjoy the meal as I could have if I had ordered the right dishes.

The cheese selection is quite interesting as most of the cheese is local or at least comes from the US. It was good, but not as the cheese at Gotham Bar and Grill I had just a night ago.

Drinks: You can have a cocktail or a glass of wine at the bar before or after your dinner. It is a vibrant spot with an elegant atmosphere. The wine list at Daniel is outstanding. You will find treasures from the old as well as the new world vineyards. We went for a glass of Champagne and a bottle of red Burgundy – Chambolle Musigni 2007 1er Cru from Bertheau. The French Pinot Noir was a perfect compromise to match our dishes ranging from fish to meat. It was elegant and well-balanced so one could drink it also on its own.

Opening hours: Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30PM-11PM, Fri-Sat 5:30PM-11PM, closed on Sunday; Lunch only for private events.

Address: 60 East 65th Street  New York, NY 10065, USA

Contact: +1 (212) 288-0033

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Cuisine: French Mediterranean; gastronomic bistro style Visit: August 2012 Price: Medium (great value for the quality and originality: 2 courses 24 €; 3 courses – plats 29 €)

Just outside of La Petite Cave

Atmosphere: Old yet modern, vibrant yet relaxed and casual despite serving gastronomic fare. The waiter was very friendly when we dined there and proved that he cares about how his guests feel. The restaurant is located in the small ancient village of Saignon, just up the hill from Apt. You have to park near the church and then walk through the cobbled village streets and charming little squares with fountains until you find a tiny entrance to the cave where the restaurant is located. The atmosphere is charming and cosy. There are not many tables so I would recommend booking your dinner table ahead. (La Petite Cave is closed for lunch)

Vaults at LaPetite Cave

Food: Fresh, inventive and reasonably sized. The menu changes seasonally and in some cases instead of duck you might be served chicken, although the waiter will inform you about it. Some days it is perhaps challenging to find the right amount of ducks in this countryside area! Important though is that the food tastes good and here at Le Petite cave it is more – the food is excellent! I chose a refreshing starter of Soupe Froide de Petits Pois, Mousse de Crabe, Avocat – a Chilled Pea Soup with Crab Mousse and Avocado. It was delicious! The thick and concentrated pea soup was nourishing but also refreshing at the same time, the crab with its soft texture and sea salty nature added the dominant flavor and the avocado and herbs mousse added volume and depth to this dish.

Chilled pea soup with crab and avocado

A more traditional starter are Rillettes de Maquereaux fumé, Cornichons, Raisins, Menthe – Rillettes of Smoked Mackerel, Cornichons, Grapes and Mint. The rillettes of chopped slated mackerel are served in a glass pot with gherkins (pickled cucumbers) and grape halves with mint infusion. A prefer this to the traditional pork rillettes version as it is more refreshing and not too heavy. Moving to main courses with Saumon Poché, Pommes de Terre au Safran, Cocos Plats, Sauce Béarnaise – Poached Salmon, Saffron Potatoes, Runner Beans and a cup of Béarnaise Sauce. Delicate salmon and potato with touch of saffron got a bit more zesty not just after squeezing a bit of lemon over it but also with the bean mash adding vegetal touch to this dish. La Petite Cave’s take on the Béarnaise Sauce was a nice surprise. Not only butter and egg yolks, this sauce had more herbs in it that I am accustomed to, and I liked that for it even more.

Poached salmon

My partner wanted Confit de Canard, Pois Chiches en Curry, Purée de Choufleur, Coriandre – Confit of Duck leg, Curried Chickpeas, Cauliflower Purée, Coriander. The restaurant was out of duck so he was instead offered a chicken in the same version. I had a taste, or two, and loved it. The curried chickpeas added Middle Eastern flavor, cauliflower softly balanced it, and grilled garlic cloves brought it to perfection.

Confit de Poulet

Later you can have either cheese or some sweet delicacy. We tried the Fromage de Chèvre et Miel de Saignon – Creamy Goat Cheese with Honey from Saignon. Served warm on a sizzling pan and sprinkled with noisettes of red pepper, there was no flaw in this cheese preparation. Just dip a piece of bread into it and let yourself carry away on a cloud of eternal taste bliss.

Goat cheese

I was craving chocolate so went fora desert. The Fondant au Chocolate, Mascarpone, Sorbet de Cassis – Chocolate Fondant, Mascarpone and Cassis Sorbet brought me to a chocolate connoisseurs’ heaven. The Fondant had just perfect melting texture, richness and two friends on each side. On the left was a refreshing and rich home-made cassis sorbet and on the right a creamy whip of mascarpone and vanilla pods. I did not know which one to eat first or which one to leave for the last mouthful (I usually leave the best part to the end) as all the three little pots of these delicacies were incredible. This desert will be a main subject of my dreams in many nights to come.

The ultimate chocolate delicacy

Drinks: For an aperitif you can have a glass of pastis or local wine. The wine list is all local and very reasonably priced. The most expensive wine on the list when we dined there was €55. On the waiter’s suggestion we ordered a bottle of white wine from Château la Canorgue, Luberon. This organically certified blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc was deep, complex and full of life. The winery has been practicing biodynamic and organic winemaking for over 30 years, so they are not new to this area and it seems that they have learnt to do it very well. Opening hours: From 7:30pm Tuesday to Saturday for dinner. Contact: +33(0) 490 766 492; Mobile: +33(0) 637 850 922 Address: Rue Le Quai, 84 400 Saignon, France

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Cuisine: Provençal French with Asian influence; gastronomic

Visit: August 2012

Price: High (although not too much for a Michelin star restaurant – €52 for a three-course discovery dinner menu)

La Coquillade – meaning the lark

Chef:  The restaurant is in hands of a Michelin starred chef Christophe Renaud. He uses mostly local ingredients and, as became recently very popular between chefs, he grows aromatic herbs and flowers in the organic garden of the Domaine La Coquillade. His previous experiences from restaurants in the USA and in the French Alsace region formed his cooking talent, which he now utilizes using Provençal ingredients at Le Gourmet.

Amousse bouche of melon gazpacho

Atmosphere: Nature with an eternally buzzing sound of cicadas create a relaxing environment. Wooden furniture, linen and beams inside and outside on the peaceful terrace remind you that you are in the middle of lush green countryside. During the day you can spot the flocks of vineyards surrounding the domaine and the hotel. Dress comfortably yet  not too casual since, despite being in the middle of nature, you are still dining at a Michelin starred establishment.

Food: Artistic, colorful and inventive. The chef blends Mediterranean flavors with exotic cuisines such as Asian. Most of the dishes include vegetable either playing the first violin or just tuning the other food instruments on the plate.

For the curious gourmets I recommend starting with L’Assortiment d’entrée – a tapas style assortment of three appetizers changing daily. They represent the breath of the chef’s cooking.

During the evening we dined there each of the starters seemed to come from a different corner of the world, at least in terms of flavors. The first – Beignet de mini carotte fane au cumin, sauce thaï – had an Asian twist. It was a vegetable tempura served with spicy, sweet-sour and soy-like varieties of sauces. It was a great snack with a glass of white wine I had as an aperitif.

Beef carpaccio starter

The second took mostly a French coat. The Rouleau de bœuf “Blonde d’Aquitaine”, croustillant au câpre, sorbet aux herbes fraîches du jardin – was an exquisite, genial and refreshing dish. A thin slice of beef wrapped in a fresh creamy sauce, all topped with crispy cheese cracker, fresh herbs sorbet and a tangy caper. It was one of the best beef starters I have ever had. Rich yet refreshing, bursting with different flavors, it was a bespoken and original recipe for Le Gourmet.

Another excellent tongue-teaser was the Sablé au parmesan, Baïaldi de légumes, marquereau mini-cuit infusé à la livèche – a parmesan biscuit, vegetable Baïaldi with mackerel infused with herbs. Delicate and surprisingly not as fishy as one would expect for a mackerel.

Sable au parmesan

The main courses usually include one fish, one meat and one vegetarian meal. I went for the fish – Poisson de petit métier de Méditerranée – from the à la carte menu. The flavor boosting crispy red mullet was served with red rice and vegetable maki and crispy rice à la rice popcorn. It was delicious and went well with a light red wine rather than white since the wine’s character might have been overpowered by the intense flavors of the sauce served with the fish.

Fish

For a desert you can either go for a discovery with La trilogie de desserts – selection of three daily desserts – or stick with the regular menu.

We have not had either since we had cheese and delicious hams from the nearby Gordes farmers market waiting in our room to be eaten with a bottle of red Aureto wine we got as a welcome present upon check-in at the hotel housing the restaurant.

Drinks: From the very affordable Aureto wines from the Domaine La Coquillade through other local interesting wines to the French icons, the wine list has little to offer from many French regions.

Contact: +33(0) 490 74 71 71

Address: La Coquillade; Demeure de Prestige; 84 400 Gargas; France

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Entrance to the Chateau La Nerthe

Château La Nerthe is one of the oldest wineries in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Established in the 12th Century, in the period when the popes were residing in Avignon and made Châteauneuf-du-Pape their summer residence as well as source for the mass wine. It was first documented though around 1560. Then it was known under different name (Grange de Beauvenir) and subsequently owned by various owners often coming from an aristocratic families.

Tranquille Chateau La Nerthe

The winery

The old winery was built in the 16th century. Here there are also stone tanks built into the walls about 1.20 meters thick, which have been used to age wines since the beginning of the production at the château. Some wines are still matured in these today and the other reds and some white grapes (Roussane, old Clairettes) are vinified as well as aged in large wood barrels typical for the traditional Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds. Only natural yeasts are used to initiate the fermentation process. The rest of the white grapes are matured in stainless steel tanks and subsequently blended. No malolactic fermentation is used in the production of the white wines as the winery aims to preserve freshness and fruity character of their wines.

The old winery

Inbuilt wine tank

The cellar & vinothèque

The oldest part of the cellar (built in 1560) was dug directly in the stone mineral wall containing cobalt (safre). You can see it above on the picture. It is very hard to clean, but it is meticulously being done by a dedicated person at the winery since the tanks are still in use.

There is a lovely arched cave housing the small as well as huge oak barrels, in which the wines are being aged.

A unique feature of  the cellar at Château La Nerthe is the “vinothèque“, holding the private reserves of some of the greatest chefs and restaurants.

The legendary chefs include Allain Ducasse and also supposedly the oldest restaurant in Paris – the La Tour d’Argent. They all have their golden nameplate above the wines that will once be featured on their wine lists.

The chef Alain Ducasse

The wines

The annual production of the Château la Nerthe is almost 300,000 bottles of red and 40,000 bottles of white wine. It is not a small winery, but not a giant making commercial wines. An average age of the vines is 40 years and the oldest ones are over 110 years old!

During my visit I have tasted one white blend and three reds:

Château La Nerthe 2011 A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc – a white blend of Grenache blanc, Roussane, Bourboulenc and Clairette. partially matured in barrels and stainless steel vats.

The reds are usually a blend of Grenache noir, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault and a small proportion of other grapes included in the 13 allowed grapes in the A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The grapes are matured separately, some in large wooden casks and others in oak barrels. They are tasted separately and then blended to the winemaker’s satisfaction.

Château La Nerthe 2006 A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge – had the highest percentage of Grenache from all the reds I have tried and it showed on the palate. Very deep and strong wine with misleading sweetness on the nose and vivid alcohol aftertaste. It is surely a food wine and needs a big chunk of meat to tame it a bit.

Château La Nerthe 2008 A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge – my favorite as it was the most balanced wine here. It had an appealing cigar box on the nose, vibrant acidity and tannins on the palate with slight touch of dark fruits.

Château La Nerthe 2009 A.O.C. Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge – the 2009 was an excellent vintage producing age-worthy wines with lots of fruits in the profile. In the case of this wine from Château La Nerthe it really needs the time to mellow its strong character. Now it is juicy, bursting with dark fruits, dominated by a more acidic blackberry.

After the tasting at the Château not only me, but also many other wine connoisseurs felt so light, exactly like the sculpture in the tasting room. (Pictured bellow) What a great piece of art!


Feeling like flying after the wine tasting.

Address: route de Sorgues  84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
Contact: +33 (0) 4 90 83 70 11

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Cuisine: French gastronomic

Visit: August 2012

Price: high (appetizers around €30; mains well above €30)

Amouse bouche

Chef: Xavier Mathieu seasonally reinvents the Mediterranean cuisine. Textures, colors and nature are his inspiration to recreate the old provençal recipes he knew since he was a child. He was awarded one Michelin star and is an author of a cookbook called “Provence Voyage Culinaire” (“Culinary voyage through Provence”).

The refreshing restaurant’s interior

Atmosphere: The restaurant is located at a tranquil Hostellerie Le Phébus. This luxurious hotel is a member of the high-end Relais Chateaux group. During the summer most guests prefer dining outside at a spacious terrace. The views from here are soothing and the water running from the fountain in the garden has meditative effect on your senses. It is a great romantic spot for couples as well as a calming retreat for busy city dwellers. Listening to the continuous hum of cicadas and sipping on your wine is a dream-come-true for many stressed citizens of the modern world. Here you can dress up, unwind and savor the calm.

Food: Creative, good-looking, but lacking original, enjoyable and engaging flavors. For me as well for my dining partner the food was quite bland and boring. The only reward was the final cheese plate we each selected from a luscious cheese board.

Fish and potato Brandade

I had selected an appetizer from the chef’s special menu called “Mon histoire, ma vie” (My history, my life). The Brandado vo gangasso, morue aux poireaux de Mémé Rose, pavé mosaïque looked artistic and was good. However sophisticated was the name though, the Salted cod fish with Mémé Rose viennoise leek tasted more like a dish I would get at a basic tapas bar or a brasserie for a fifth of the price. It was just salty and that was it, I could not find many other flavors in this dish.

Another rich yet boring starter was the Cold crayfish “vichyssoise” soup with potatoes and fennel. It was not bad, just not as interesting as one would imagine for a Michelin star restaurant.

Vichyssoise d’Ecrevisses

The main courses were not much of an upgrade. Again they looked interesting, but there was not much substance under the cover as they were just good enough to eat, but many would not return to try them again.

The Adobo Provençau, Joue et queue de bœuf aux carottes, miel, moutarde de betterave et baies de genévrier or Cheek and beef tail with carrots, honey, beets mustard and juniper berries was far from being a grandmother’s meal as well as far from bursting with complex flavors.

Roasted scorpion fish

I liked the Roasted scorpion fish, tomatoes, squid and garlic “bourride” with Espelette roadpepper the most, although I would not serve it with the chewy squids. The sauce was rich and the peppers juicy adding flavor to the sauce-friendly scorpion fish. The same fish is often used in France in the Bouillabaisse soup.

Finally, as we saw the cheese trolley, we had not been able to resist and each picked goat, sheep and cow cheese. They were all in great shape and excellent cheeses. I would say a highlight of the dinner.

We did not trust the menu any more, so we did not order any desserts. We were more curious about the petit fours trolley. It was fun as we selected candies, cookies and marshmallows to go with our tea at the end of the dinner. I had to order my favorite verveine tea so popular in this part of France. This herbal leafy tea has a soft citrus aroma, yet it is soothing after dinner.

Drinks: The French wine list entails many low production wineries from the region. On the sommelier’s suggestion we got a bottle of elegant red wine from Domaine Hauvette 2004 vintage. It was not cheep. At €122 per bottle it was not a bargain, but it satisfied my highly selective palate as most of top Bordeaux would have at a much higher price at a restaurant. There are champagnes, white, rosé and red wine by the glass as well as digestives such as Porto and aperitifs such as the local scary (at least for me) green Pastis.

Opening hours: In the season open daily for dinner, closed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for lunch.

Contact: +33(0) 4 90 05 78 83

Address: Route de Murs; Joucas; 84220 Gordes; France

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La Mere Germaine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Cuisine: French traditional bistro style; Southern Rhone cuisine

Visit: August 2012

Price: medium (three-course lunch menu €23; four-course dinner menu €37)

This vibrant and friendly restaurant was first opened in 1922 by Madame Germaine Vion, who was previously the chef at the Élysée Palace in Paris. Thus the name of this iconic Chateauneuf-du-Pape restaurant was born. Recently it was renovated and reopened by its new owner Andre Mazy, who also monthly selects special local wines for wine enthusiasts visiting from all corners of the world. During my visit, there was a large Chinese group wine tasting in one of the rooms, but the wine tasting area is separated from the other dining rooms and we had a relaxed lunch with tremendous views of the vineyard-dominated Southern Rhone landscape.

Terrace at La Mere Germaine

Atmosphere: Casual, artsy and fresh. There are three dining areas. The first has been infused with art as paintings hang, sculptures stand and wine is being tasted there. The second has huge old windows and a mirrored wall allowing the natural light from outside to lighten up the room. The last is a terrace protected from the Mistral wind by windows built into arches, so you can savor the sun and fresh air without your napkin flying all over the place. You can wear anything you want except a swimming suit. It is a very casual place where locals cross with foreigners. Although the entire menu is in French, the friendly staff will explain to you what each dish is about.

Restaurant inside & view

Food: Traditional yet innovative with daily change of the lunch menu so one never gets bored by the food there. There is usually one fish and a number of meat courses, vegetarians will have to request something special unless there is already something suitable on that day’s offer. The food is honest, the portions generous and it is intensely tasty – no salt and herbs was spared on preparing these meals.

Since the food is changed daily, I will try to give you an idea, what it could be like from the dishes we had during our Monday lunch at La Mère Germaine.

We tried all the three appetizers on offer. They were all delicious and each of us went for something appealing to his/her palate.

Fish Terine

The Terrine de Poissons Aux Herbes, Tartare de Tomates was delicate, full of flavor and quite a light starter. The fish in the egg-based terrine was freshened up with herbs, and zesty chopped tomatoes on the side added juice to the otherwise dry terrine. It was perfectly balanced and excellent with a glass of a medium-bodied white Rhone wine.

The cantaloupe melon was in season and most of restaurants in the region included it in their menu either in the classical melon with ham or in a more sophisticated starter. At La Mère Germaine they have adopted the later. The Fraîcheur de Melon et Caillette, Gaspacho de Melon was a complex starter. With a side of a small cantaloupe gaspacho, the chopped melon slices with herbs and vegetables made into a salad and a meat terrine there was a little bit of everything. The gaspacho was refreshing and not too sweet, the salad with melon resembled more Asian style of fruit and veggie mixed salads and the terrine was a based on a great quality meat. With a dish like this though one struggles to choose the right wine to pair it with. I would say, that anything medium-to full-bodied should work. Just avoid feeble or crisp white wines.

The third starter of Foie Gras Confit, Chutney de Melon Jaune, Cake à la Verveine was another story in terms of finding the right wine match for it. An aromatic even slightly sweet white wine would do perfect and even a fruity and juicy red would cut through the fatness of the duck liver. Another great use of cantaloupe in this dish. (I almost think they must have had over-production of melons this year in France). The sweet character of the melon chutney combined with a verveine (verbena) infused cake instead of the commonly used bread was a unique and surely very tasty accompaniment to the delicate Foie Gras.

Foie Gras Confit

From the main courses we went for the Filet de Cabillaud Roti, Matignon de Légumes et Coques, Fleur de Courgette Farcie. The roasted cod filet with vegetables, cockles (small mussels) stuffed in a courgette flower had not a fault. It was an interesting way how to prepare cod in an engaging fashion. White wine is a must as seafood combined with fish and green vegetables rarely go with red, unless there is a rich sauce such as tomato or a meat juice.

And finally, the real carnivores would be delighted by the Gigot à Agneau Rosé, Pommes Croustillantes, Légumes Sautés, Tomates Confits. The traditional chunks of cooked veal were served with potatoes, sautéed vegetables and conserved tomatoes. If one was still hungry after eating the big thigh of veal, then a dessert would fill the gap. We had space only for a cup of coffee and tea and a wine tasting in front of us so we had to preserve our stamina for the afternoon happenings. Judging from the neighbors’ plate, the sweets looked delicious, so if you are not in rush, just savor one of them without hesitation.

Veal Filet

Drinks: The wine list is specialized on the Rhone Valley wines for great prices at a restaurant. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines are listed by vintage with the oldest wines reaching over 40 years back. The owner offers a special local selection of great-value-wines each month. Nevertheless, there are some Burgundies, Champagne and other lesser known wines from around France. We drunk first a local white wine from Domaine Lou Devete 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Les Poéses de Marie.
It is a blend 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Clairette aged for 6 months in barriques (small oak barrels). The production is quite small. Depending on the year it usually reaches about 1.300 bottles. It was refreshing yet deep and ideal with our appetizers. Later we ordered another lesser known red from Domaine du Lampourdier 2010 from the nearby Côtes du Rhone appellation. It was intense with a hint of spice from the Syrah in the blend. Great and juicy wine with the beef, but a bit too intense for the fish main course.

Contact: +33 (0) 4 90 22 78 34

Address: 3 Rue Commandant Lemaître; 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape; France

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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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