Provence Trip, July 2012
The following are the dining highlights from my family’s trip to Provence. We were based in St. Remy de Provence but traveled all over the region.
Chez Bob (Arles) The restaurant is actually just south of Arles, in the Camargue region. My wife and I have eaten here twice before and this time was just as good as our previous visits. There is a set menu at Chez Bob. The meal begins with a beautiful huge basket of fresh crudities, radishes, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, cauliflower, etc. There is also great country bread and usually a fish spread. This time there was not fish spread, but something I would describe as salmon jerky. The main dish you have your choice of grilled duck breast, local beef, lamb or grilled pork. My daughter and I had the grilled duck which was fabulous. My wife tried the pork which was very good, but we were not sure of the cut. It seemed like a really meaty pork belly. The others reported the lamb and beef were also excellent. Then there is a cheese course and finally a very nice pancotta with the freshest raspberries. It is such a pleasure to dine at this restaurant. You must have reservations because they only cook for who has reserved a table.
Le Terrail (Bonnieux) The restaurant is in the beautiful town of Bonnieux. There were 16 in our group, so finding a restaurant that we could all dine at on the fly was a challenge. We arrived on Sunday afternoon in Bonnieux and did not have a reservation so we figured we would have to split up. However, we stopped at Le Terrail and they have an absolutely beautiful outdoor dining area that was almost empty. Once our waiter got over the shock that we were 16, he sat us and took great care of the group. The food here was good. But the view from the outdoor dining area made the lunch better. I had a nice steak frites with an outstanding mushroom sauce. Other had the steak with a great blue cheese sauce. My wife had the duck which was good. Others had rabbit, omelets and salads. Everyone seemed satisfied. We tried the house white, red and rose wine by the pitcher, all were good. We skipped dessert because there was a great looking ice cream shop next door to the restaurant. If you face Le Terrail, it is just to the left. I had coffee and coconut both of which were great.
Bistro Paradou (Paradou) This is another restaurant in which there is a daily set menu and the price includes wine. On the day we went the meal started with a fried eggplant dish with a thick tomato sauce on the side. It was fabulous, I could have eaten a bucket of the tomato sauce. For the main course, you had a choice of either rabbit or chicken. My daughter and I had the rabbit which came with mashed potatoes and a broiled tomato. The rabbit was great. My wife had the chicken which came with mashed potatoes and ratatouille. The chicken was also very good. Then a massive cheese tray is presented to the table. There were at least 12 different types of cheeses, along with several different sides of jams and fruit. Finally, you had the choice of at least 8 different desserts. I had a chestnut cream dessert which was good. My wife had a very nice crème caramel. Overall a great experience. They took care of our group of 13 with great care, in fact, my daughter was dancing with the waiters by the end of the meal.
Mas du Capoun (Molleges) One of the most dining areas I have ever seen. It is a room that opens on two sides but is covered by a roof. It is both indoor and outdoor dining. Beautiful stonework along with nice artwork really makes this space. My wife started with a cannelloni with fish and ricotta cheese with a tomato broth, she was very happy with this dish. My daughter had a salmon tartar with melon and mozzarella cheese which was good. I had a beef Carpaccio with goat cheese and a light anchovies dressing which was tasty. My daughter had the duck with peaches and ricotta which she ate every bite. My wife had the guinea hen with herbs and béarnaise sauce which was good. I had a sea bass a la planca with vegetables and carrot foam which was light and beautiful. For dessert we had a trio of sorbet – mango, citrus and raspberry which was very good and a delicious lemon tart. We had a nice bottle of white northern Rhone wine with this meal.
Bistro de la Bourse (St. Remy) This restaurant is just off the town square. It is rather non-descript, but has good solid food. I had a nice starter salad with warm goat cheese, lardon and olives. I had a pasta with a pistou sauce which was okay. My wife had a beautiful salad and pizza. My daughter had lamb chops with frites and salad which were good. The people here are very nice and accommodating.
L’Grosse d’ Ail (St. Remy) This restaurant is on the main circle road, just down the street from the church. I had a very nice salad with blue cheese and walnuts as a starter. For dinner, I had some wonderful grilled scallops, I was surprised how good they were. My daughter had some basis pasta with chicken and cream sauce. In fact, she had two orders. I forgot what my wife had, but I do recall that she enjoyed it very much.
L’Industre (St. Remy) This restaurant is also on the main circle road in town. They were very accommodating to our group of 16. The food was presented in a very prompt fashion. I had a veal dish in a tomato sauce which was fair. Everyone in the group that ordered seafood was very happy. Additionally, one in the group ordered frog’s legs that were great. We tried two desserts, a caramel tiramisu, which was fantastic, and a dark chocolate cake also good.
La Mandarin (St. Remy) This restaurant is also on the main circle road, close to the tourist office. This is a Vietnamese restaurant. On our last night, some in the group needed something other than French food, so we gave it a try. Our friends have been going to St. Remy for about 20 years and have never tried this restaurant. It was overall good and run by a very affable man. I started with a good soup with pork and prawn dumpling. I also had the fried Vietnamese eggrolls which were fine. Finally, I had a prawn dish with ginger and black pepper which was nice. My daughter had two plates of some very nice sushi. If you want something different, give this place a try.
La Roma (St. Remy) This restaurant is also on the main circle road, just up from the church. Just look for a line of people. I have no idea about the actual food served at this place but I can speak about the ice cream which I had almost everyday. They have about 30 different flavors of ice cream and sorbets. The coconut ice cream was great and the lemon sorbet was most refreshing.
Market Day (St. Remy) Market day in St. Remy is Wednesday. I went out into the market to forge for lunch. I picked up a roasted turkey breast wrapped in bacon. Additionally, I picked up a nice piece of porcetta; some great cheeses; fresh tomatoes, cherries and peaches. I also got some very nice fresh pasta. I brought them back to the house and had a nice lunch by the pool with some rose.