As a location, it can hardly be beaten with a sea view along the rocky cliff and a lingering forg covering the foot of the mountain leaving its white granite head poking out.
This three Michelin star restaurant is perched on a cliff overhanging the sea. A pastis cocktail on the terrace, essentially a sweetened pastis with added lime juice, and the kick of how expensive it is when the bill arrives.
Having written in beforehand to specify a wheat free meal, a pastry based snack showed up and had to taken away, left with a fairly generic spoonful of seafood and passion fruit and the sauce for the pastry. And at the table, a country bread was duly served and again had to be retrieved. Not the best start. Though the gluten free bread is satisfyingly spongy in a crisp crust with a not unpleasant steam rice bun flavour.
Raw fillet of mackerel with shiso and mango vinegar is a one bite amuse bouche that is shiso strong but a gentle creamy texture and the mild flavour of the mackerel shines through. Lightly chilled Yellow tomato soup with cucumber cream is savoury, refreshing and rich. Both served with a Rose from Casis that is floral on the nose, refreshing and with a good Berry fruit on the palate.
Going into the first course, a clock face of raw tuna and a single piece of smoked bream, accompanied by various combinations of pear, raspberry sauce and sea water foam. The intrigue is the accompanying consomme that is clear, complex and warming despite being cold. This is served with a darker rose from provence that has a spicy paprika kick to it.
Seabass with black Truffle and sliced cucumbers for texture, in an olive oil, tomato, basil and coriander bath, served with an Ogier white wine. The fish is thick and beautifully soft, the richness and the acidity of the oil accompanying it is perfect, with a wine that mirror the nose of the dish and has the strength to cut through the olive oil in the dish.
Contrasting the previous course is a meaty, textured sea bream served with an even more dazzling array of vegetables. The predominant flavour of aniseed from the confit fennel and its top, with leek, fragrant mushroom and various juz, foam and jelly making this a hugely complex set of flavours. But the underlying acidity is what unite the dish. The almond strong Burgundy white is rich and a good acidity that replicates the dish.
An errant spoon pops up before it is retrieved again for a course that is to be skipped and substituted by herby crab claws and vegetable pasta in a crab bisque. More crab meat is served cold on the side in a citrus fragrant, Asian influenced parsley sauce. Again, complex yet clear direction of flavour dominates. This is served with a less impressive chateauneuf du pape white wine and it really shows how well matched all the other wines are given this wine is suppose to go with another dish.
The bouillabaisse with a trio of fish comes with a pungent oyster fragranced and chilled red wine from Provence that tries hard to outdo the fishiness of the soup. This is perhaps the least impressive dish given the restricted remit of the dish. And compared with dishes served previously, there were better cooked fish and richer, more complex flavour.
The selection of cheese is served with a favourite of mine, a St Joseph red that is light and fragrant. Then a gloriously tangy lemon mousse with orange and rose and hibiscus infusion served with a red dessert wine that is light yet complimentary in its sweetness. It sums up the meal that has an emphasis on acidity and citrus yet it never overwhelms. Finally, the cold berry, basil and mint dessert is light, chilled and refreshing. Though if I’m being really picky, the cold empty plate is left on the table for little too long for the condensation to accumulate and gets quite sweaty.
This is at the very top of the price range and the food is exceptional. The complexity of each dish and execution of each element is nearly faultless. And moreover, the thematic consistency of all the dishes is impressive, to the point where there is a narrative from start to finish, yet each has enough variations to be distinctive.