Le Clos de la Violette, Aix-en-Provence

June 24, 2006

clos-violette-2.jpgOn June 22, 2006, we dined at Le Clos de la Violette, one of the very few Michelin two-star restaurants in South-eastern France to which I had never been.  (Linda lunched there once many years ago.) It is in a residential area just far enough north of central Aix-en-Provence that you can’t easily walk there.  (There is an unmarked parking lot for it reached by a lane just to the left, or west, of the main entrance.)  Our table was set under tenting in the large front yard with huge chestnut and other trees.  It was unclear what they would have done in case of serious rain as the main dining room had been completely gutted for redecoration.  There was a menu at 90€ and one at 130€ (which we took) plus an expensive à la carte selection.  (There is a lower priced menu at lunch.)We had the house apéritif, which is a sort of Kir Royale, served with nice little puff pastry nibblies. The meal started with a cold foie gras wrapped in a crust of green herbs.  The second clos-violette.jpgcourse was two black squid-ink raviolis accompanied by two little grilled and stuffed squid.  Then there was a Mediterranean sole with chopped mushrooms and slices of summer truffles.  The main course was lamb with Provençale summer vegetables; then there was a brousse, a creamy cheese, followed by a complicated strawberry dessert.  Voilà.  It was all very good and beyond criticism, but I didn’t feel as if I had had a memorable meal. The wine service was efficient and friendly; the extensive list was reasonably priced for a restaurant in this category. We had a Cuilleron Chaillées de l’Enfer Condrieu 2004 and a 2000 Château Pibernon Bandol. The clientèle was widely varied and provided us with a constant source of conversation as the evening progressed. There was a steady stream of arrivals until 9:15. The three tables of Americans were the best dressed (neat summer casual, no ties), although the other two slowed down the staff with their need for translations.  The sloppy, informal dress and comportment of some of the locals was really amazing.  One can only speculate why they had selected such a high-priced restaurant. We stayed at the Grand Hôtel Roi Réné, which is an efficient, comfortable, commercial hotel near the center of town.  It is a 2-garcons.jpgshort walk to the Musée Granet, where we saw the Cézanne exhibition. It is also near the famous Café des Deux Garçons, where we had our breakfast.  It opens at 07h00 and has a group of regular customers at that hour.  (www.closdelaviolette.fr) MR

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