Bruno – Lorgues

June 25, 2006

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About fifteen years ago we were somewhere in the Rhône Valley planning to return to Beaulieu-sur-Mer the next day.  I looked in the Michelin Red Guide and found Bruno’s restaurant, which had recently received a star.  So we went for lunch the next day and found it to be a great way to end a drive somewhere in France, as it is not too far from home for an after lunch drive.  Over the next few years we went back several times with some bruno-4.jpgmemorable incidents.  During one summer lunch a huge thunderstorm struck and everyone carried his plate, glass etc from the terrace into the dining room where things continued.  In the old days, Bruno used to come to each table shortly after one sat down.  He would tell you what you were going to eat and order you a local wine after you told him whether you wanted red or rosé.  One day, after several hours in the car, Linda had the effrontery to be in the ladies’ room when Bruno came by and he would not come back.  We waited quite a while and the headwaiter finally took care of us.   Anyway, Clément Bruno has become a celebrity and a conglomerate now and we had not been back for several years, but we decided the time was ripe when driving back from Aix on June 23, 2006. Bruno’s has changed a lot.  We did not see Bruno.  There are a lot more tables, both inside and outside.  There is a big staff for welcoming, serving, taking away etc.  There is a field with a windsock for arrival by helicopter; two came during our lunch.  There is one of his stores, Terres de Truffes, although, strangely, it was not open.  There is an annex with rooms.  There is a printed menu of the day and a wine list.  Prices are up.  But the most important thing has not changed: Bruno is all about truffles.  Everything before the dessert has truffles in it.  This has the hazard that truffles are very seasonal, regional, varied and expensive.   The area north of Bruno in the Var and the Luberon is good truffle country, both for the traditional fall and winter truffles and for the less pungent summer ones.  That used to be all he used.  Then he branched out into Italian white truffles in their fall season.    The formula for the day we were there was the three truffle courses and the two desserts for 60 € with summer truffles or 100 € with “Brumale” truffles, which are not as good as the winter ones, but better than the summer ones.  (It’s 120 € when the winter ones are available.) No other choices were offered, but it was implied that if you wanted a change, it could be bruno-2.jpgarranged.  We ordered the okay local house red wine at the suggestion of the sommelier.  A complimentary  kir royale was brought right after we ordered, then a lovely little truffled amuse gueule.   Then: A whole truffle with ham and foie gras baked in puff pastry served with a truffled red wine sauce.  That was enough to fill one up, but as Mae West said; “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”A baked “mountain” potato served with a truffled cream and plenty of slices of truffles.  This dish is best made with Noirmoutier potatoes, but they were out of season.  The whole potato was a bit much, but I ate it all.

Lamb shoulder bruno-1.jpgbraised for five hours with thyme, served with summer vegetables and plenty of truffle slices.  This was excellent, but really rich for a summer lunch; we asked the waiter if they served something lighter when it got really hot and he said no. 

An anis sorbet with chocolate.

A coconut, pineapple, vanilla ice cream concoction.

Coffee. 

So we staggered back into the car and went down the hill to Château Sainte Roseline, where we bought some wine, and then drove on home.  I would certainly go back to Bruno’s, but the winter would be better as the truffles would be better.  The terrace has lost some of its charm with its expansion and the fumes from the helicopters.  http://www.restaurantbruno.com. 

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