I've just returned from spending 10 days in Marseille - for work. While most of the meals I ate in Marseille were catered by work, I did go out a few times. Of the few places that I tried, there were two that really stood out, offering great food & service: La Passarelle and La Table a Deniz.
La Passarelle was suggested by a friend who lives in Marseille. It is a little funky eclectic restaurant located directly behind the Radisson Hotel in Vieux Port. Although the restaurant is rather small, it has a great outdoor terrace set in the midst of a vegetable garden. The food is seasonal mediterranean, and the menu changes daily, featuring ingredients fresh picked from the garden. For the first course, I had mussels sauteed with pine needles!!!! A strange sounding- but absolutely delicious combination (and yes, the pine needles were picked straight from the pine tree in the garden). It was sooo good, I sopped up all the juices with my bread afterwards. Then for the second course I had grilled stuffed sardines: stuffed with olive pate, fried yellow squash, and grilled zucchine, and served alongside rice pilaf and a small salad. Another person at the table chose a type of tagine with marguez sausages, chickpeas, and lamb - which was velvety smooth and meat that was so tender it fell apart in your mouth. For dessert I had goat's milk yogurt sweetened with honey and rose petals. Really yummy! Prices were very reasonable: For a table of 9, with first, second, and desserts, coffee, and lots of house wine (the rose was quite nice), we spent only 36 euros a head. The service was great, although some of the people at our table spoke french, the waiter was willing to speak english (and italian!) to those that couldnt speak french. It made for such an enjoyable night, like spending the evening at a friend's house.
La Passarelle: 52, rue du Plan Fourmiguier
tel. +33 0668627787
open day & night from Tues-Sat.
The other lovely meal I had was at La Table a Deniz. This is a tiny little restaurant on the corner of rue Sainte (#63), up a couple of streets from the Vieux Port. The menu was written on a chalk-board outside the restaurant, and seemed interesting enough to lure us in. The food was mediterranean but with a touch of N. African influence. For first course I had a salad with beef tongue and mixed lettuces - it was already dressed, and the vinegar worked beautifully with the cold roast meat (sorry, dont know which vinegar they used). My husband had a spinach & goat cheese tart that had a hint of mint in it. Then for main course, I had duck breast cooked with figs and honey - and my husband had whole roast fish with citrus sauce. Both were perfectly cooked and seasoned. A guy at the table across from us ordered the roast chicken - it was half the chicken! with crispy brown skin and served with some type of dipping sauce. We were so full we passed on dessert. Price was very reasonable - 25 euros a head including the house rose wine.
For more info, click here (in french): http://www.fra.cityvox.fr/restaurants_marseille/la-table-a-denise_90342/Profil-Lieu
On the last day we came across a great kitchen-ware shop: Maison Empereur on 4, rue de Recolettes (www.empereur.fr). Unfortunately they didnt have what I was looking for...but they were so intrigued, they asked me to email them with the information about the product, and they would consider whether to stock it.
One more rec for a great wine bar/art gallery/place to eat: La Part des Anges, 33 rue Sainte.
(Ok, all of my rec's are on or around rue Sainte...but it is a really nice little area full of cool shops and restaurants and close to where I was staying in the Vieux Port.)
We also ate at Le Comptoir des Favouilles, it was decent - great service - food properly cooked and seasoned, but nothing that really stood out.
Some of my colleagues went to eat at Le Peron...they said it was good but very expensive....you pay for the amazing view. http://www.restaurant-peron.com
hope this helps!
Just returned from Marseille again. Happy to report that La Passarelle is still going strong cooking delicious garden-fresh food. Now it's open every night.
Was sad to see that my other favourite spot, La Table a Deniz, is no longer open for dinner, being open only for lunches. Unfortunately could not get away from work at lunch time, to enjoy it.
However we did managed to find another great place to add to our list of favourites in Marseille, called Au Falafel. This is a little restaurant serving Israeli specialties tucked on a side street between rue Sainte and rue Davsos. We were craving kebabs/shwarmas/ whatever you call them - and just happened to stumble upon this very popular place. The fries are made fresh - and were served scorching hot. The falafel is the best I've ever had - I watched the cook shape them into little balls and fry them up to order. We started with the "assiette isralienne falafel" which included a velvety smooth houmous. How they got it so smooth, i have no idea - but it was not at all grainy in texture. And so nice, mixed with the tehina and salade turque. Then I had a really lovely falafel pita sandwich - which came with a really nice sauce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cabbages!! YUM! My husband had the chicken curry schwarma on the first night - which had a nice spicy kick to it. The food was so good, that we went back for our last meal in Marseille. I had the falafel pita again and my husband had the mixed grilled meats. He said it was delicious. Here's the website: www.lafalafel.com. Oh, they also do a chicken schnitzel - and although I did not order it, I was impressed to see that each piece of chicken breast is prepared to order - dipped in egg, then breadcrumbs, then fried. I love this place!!!!