Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Whirlwind Tour

I know I promised last time that the next post would be about the traditional cuisine we had at the Diamond Anniversary dinner but I'm going to have to delay that for a bit. But for a very good reason! I will soon have a recipe given to me to post by the boy's mother! So stay tuned...

For the last week and a half, my parents from Hong Kong and my brother and his girlfriend from Montreal descended like a plague of locusts upon our tiny flat, eating most anything in sight! It's been a big, greedy binge of French food and I was determined to have them try everything. As the boy explained to my Mom, "It's not a successful holiday unless you leave just a little bit fatter." My Mom took this bit of "advice" to heart and proceeded to demolish the breadbasket each and every time.

My parents arrived earlier than my brother so the boy and I decided to take them down to visit the boy's parents in the South of France, booking them into a bed and breakfast in Puyloubier (which became "Polar Bear" under my parent's pronunciation). You might be dreading to think what two big city mice would fare in the tiny village but they loved it. Including the "main street" comprised with all of 1 shop, 1 restaurant, and a square.

But back to the food. We went to Relais Sainte Victoire, who infamously had a tiff with the Michelin people, with the chef saying that he requested his star to be removed while the Michelin guide insisting that the star was removed in 1995 due to the lowering standards of the food. Oddly, the front glass panel of the entrance displayed the Michelin Guide sticker for 2007, while the inside were framed articles, proudly announcing their rejection of the Michelin star so as not to compromise their cooking. Let me just start the review by saying that we were all in agreement that the reason for rejecting the star may have been more a pre-emptive move as it certainly did not deserve a star, neither for service nor the food.

I started with a mixed platter which comprised of a jellied terrine (bottom right), which was much, much too tart and mushy, a forgettable dish of gratin mussel and scallop (bottom left), a nice block of quince foie gras covered in breadcrumbs (upper left), and an odd, incredibly dense, pate/meatball type spread that was like rillettes with no fat and without the creamy texture (upper right).

Our mains came and I had ordered the lamb "de lait", after the wonderful experience with my cochon de lait. When it came, it was a lovely piece of lamb with a rosemary mash but nothing close to spectacular. As nice as my lamb was, the one the boy's mother received was horrendous. Full of fat, gristle and uncooked parts, it was virtually inedible. When the waiter came over to enquire regarding the food, we pointed it out to him, whereupon, he shrugged and did absolutely NOTHING about it.

Which shows the quality of restaurant where the guests' pleasure means absolutely nothing.

The desserts were obviously their forte, with the presentation finally showing some care. My platter of chocolate desserts looked nice but was not spectacular. The cone of dark chocolate filled with a aniseed-y foam was average. It may be dampened by the fact that I can no longer eat any more foam as I do enjoy dark chocolate and aniseed. The mousse was rich and light and was not so sweet as to make my teeth hurt. The chocolate mille-feuille was a little too hard for my taste and the contrast of tastes with the ice cream did not work as well as hoped.

To be absolutely fair, the food was decent but for the reputation, the dispute regarding the star, it was very sub-par. On top of which the disinterested service, the lack of presentation and the setting of the restaurant make me wonder about the truth of chef René Bergès actually refusing the star.

Relais Sainte Victoire
53, avenue Sylvain Gautier
13100 Beaurecueil
Tel : 33 (0)4 42 66 94 98

No comments: