L'Oustau de Baumanière, Les Baux de Provence | EUROtoday

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Following the footsteps of Queen Elisabeth II, dine at one of many best eating places in France, the place Provençal flavors meet a uniquely up to date and glossy delicacies by chef Glenn Viel.

The first I ever heard of L'Oustau de Baumanière was on a muggy May day in 1972 once I was a boy in New England studying the captions accompanying pictures of the late Queen Elizabeth II's lunch at this legendary Provençal auberge in Life journal. In one of many photos, the Queen sat at a desk with a salmon-colored tablecloth that was speckled by spots of shade from a close-by airplane tree. Even although it should have been uncomfortable to have been carrying a hat on a heat day, Her Majesty regarded relaxed, even perceptibly completely happy in an unrehearsed approach. There have been pictures of what she and the opposite notables had for lunch as properly. The sea bass with a pesto crust didn't converse to me, as a result of fairly perversely for a New Englander, I solely discovered to like fish once I went to college. The roasted leg of Alpilles lamb with peas and inexperienced beans regarded scrumptious, although, as did the dessert of raspberries with lemon sorbet and millefeuille. So I dreamed of going there.

Arriving to fulfill pals for lunch lately, after not having been to this very charming place for a very long time, I felt the identical butterflies in my stomach that I did once I first got here right here. Why? L'Oustau de Baumanière, which was based in 1945 by Raymond Thuilier, is a spot that unfailingly delivers pleasure, each by way of its rooms and its restaurant.

In my barely fuzzy thoughts's eye, I remembered my final meal on the terrace on a heat, early September day as a swooning tour de pressure of refined Provençal cooking by chef Jean-André Charial, Thuilier's grandson, who skilled with Pierre and Jean Troisgros, Alain Chapel, Marc Haeberlin, Paul Bocuse and Frédy Girardet earlier than taking up the kitchen at L'Oustau. My good friend, Judy, and I ate zucchini flowers filled with contemporary goat's cheese and a confetti of ratatouille, a Mediterranean sea bass cooked in a crust of sea salt served with a virgin sauce (chopped tomato and basil in olive oil), a number of tiny black olives and roasted potatoes with a scent of saffron.

The dessert was a soup of vine peach, the red-fleshed fruit that's essentially the most succulent of all French peaches, with lemon verbena. We drank a bottle of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape with our meal, after which we drifted aside for the right languor of a siesta with the whirr of cicadas within the background and a lavender-scented breeze spliced ​​by wood shutters.

I knew that Monsieur Charial had left the kitchen some time again and that chef Glenn Viel had been cooking right here since 2015, and apparently at an exalted sufficient stage to keep up the restaurant's three Michelin stars. Still, I slightly anticipated my most up-to-date meal to be a barely extra fashionable model of the one I'd had with Judy, since that meals was precisely what L'Oustau's clients anticipated to seek out once they got here right here. Suffice it to say that I used to be lifeless fallacious, and that as a substitute I had an excellent lesson in the way in which French haute delicacies is all the time being stealthily tinkered with and up to date to answer evolving concepts of gastronomic pleasure.

Viel's model is maybe finest described by the French phrase refinedwhich requires a cumbersome variety of English phrases to translate precisely, together with clear, glossy, refined uncluttered and pure… Or in different phrases, Viel has jettisoned the slightly folkloric associations the world has with Provençal meals – particularly that it's all about olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and herbs and created his personal idiom, which is predicated on precisely exact cooking occasions, gentle, rigorously constructed sauces and intriguing contrasts of texture and taste in the identical dish.

Chef Glenn Viel © Virginie Ovessian

We opted for the ten-course Une Ballade menu for €330 a bit a thumping sum, in fact, however distinctive worth for cash when in comparison with different Michelin three-star eating places in France. And it was a very spectacular meal. L'Oustau de Baumanière additionally affords an eight-course vegetarian tasting menu, referred to as 1987, for €180.

The very good dishes on this suite of delight ran from the deceptively easy – an abalone (conch) was cooked in its shell and basted with melted butter, a nod at each Viel's Breton origins and his technical prowess as a result of conch is an intensely difficult dish to prepare dinner proper because it adjustments from succulent to rubbery within the area of seconds. Red Spanish prawns got here in a velvety sauce constituted of their heads and shells, whereas a succulent pigeon breast and leg was served in one of many suavest sauces I've ever eaten in France (it was made with the chook's gizzards and a hint of cocoa ).

Each of us acquired a unique dazzling dessert by good pastry chef Brandon Dehan. Mine was a gorgeous pastry sunflower with glazed pastry petals and a coronary heart of peaches and cream, a very exceptional dessert.

Our leisurely meal lasted greater than three hours, and the one factor I might do in another way the subsequent time I go to is ebook a room for a post-lunch siesta like I did the primary time I got here right here. L'Oustau de Baumanière is sort of merely one of many biggest eating places and accommodations in France.

Mas de Baumanière, Les Baux-de-Provence, Tel: (33) 04 90 54 33 07,

Fixed value menus €33, €210, €180.

From France Today Magazine

Lead photograph credit score: L’Oustau de Baumanière © G Voinot

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French Restaurant Review: L’Oustau de Baumanière, Les Baux de Provence