Les Agapes, Vence
June 17, 2010
On May 13, 2010, Jean-Claude and Meriam invited Linda and me to lunch at Les Agapes in the heart of the old walled city of Vence. This small restaurant with an ambitious cuisine was started last year by its chef, Jean-Philippe Douroux.
The sun was shining and we were seated on the little terrace across from the front door; inside there are a few tables on the ground floor and more on the floor above behind the green plant in the window box.
We started with kirs royales. A glass of excellent herbed olives was put on the table.
We ordered a bottle of 2008 Domaine du Chêne Saint Joseph rouge. Nice.
Meriam’s first course was the
Noix de Saint-Jacques dorées au piment d’Espelette, escabèche de courgettes à la menthe fraîche et feuilleté au sésame
The scallops were fresh and nicely caramelized. She liked the spicing which had touches of her native Morocco.
Linda and Jean-Claude started with the
Terrine d’aubergines et mozzarella “Di Buffala”, concassé de tomates au basilic, bouquet de mesclun
The blend of eggplant and mozzarella slices with tomato was light, refreshing and well done.
My starter was a
Cassolette de légumes de printemps, gnocchis de ricotta – basilic et crackers de lard
The mixture of spring vegetables had been cooked in a good bouillon, some of which was on the bottom of the cassolette. The “gnocchi” were globs of ricotta mixed with basil which livened up the vegetables. The slice of crisp bacon gave a dash of saltiness and a textural crunch. This kind of dish seems simple, but I think it is hard to succeed with it as the chef did here. Very good.
We were enjoying being outside on the terrace on one of the first warm days of this late spring.
As we were finishing our first course, we could hear thunder getting slowly louder; the sky darkened; so we moved inside to the upstairs dining room.
Meriam’s main course, served inside, was
Pavé de bar piqué d’olives de Nice, tatin de tomates aux oignons, fumet tomaté et pommes de terres croustillantes
She enjoyed this piece of sea bass perched on a crisp tomato base.
Linda and Jean-Claude went on to
Filet mignon de porc farci aux tomates séchées, gratin de macaronis au chèvre frais, pois mange-tout sautés, jus à la moutarde de Meaux.
The rounds of pork filet were moist and had good flavor. The mustard sauce was well done and a good accompaniment.
I had a
Médaillon de veau pané aux flocons de pommes de terre, poêlée d’asperges vertes, compotée d’oignons rouges et jus parfumé orange – cébettes
The veal was moist inside with a crisp outside potato crust. It was placed on green aspagagus sliced lengthwise on stewed red onions with an orange sauce. There was a jar of asparagus soup. The dish was overly complicated and the flavors not really complementary, but it was interesting.
By this time it was raining steadily outside and we were glad to be inside.
Linda and Jean-Claude’s dessert was a
Mille-feuille croustillant aux framboises, mousseline citron vert, espumas parfum de pistache et glace chocolat blanc
This was quite complicated for a dessert, but everything was good quality and was working in the same direction: (from bottom to top) the millefeuille pastry; the light, interesting lime mousseline; the very good raspberries; the pistachio foam and the sugared top pastry layer. The white chocolate ice cream worked well.
My dessert was
Gariguettes poêlées au beurre de cacao, déglacée au Porto rosé, glace au yaourt et biscuit à l’huile d’olive
Excellent early spring strawberries had been halved, lightly poached in cocoa butter and finished with rosé port wine. They were served with yoghurt ice cream and a soft olive oil cake. Very good.
Meriam’s dessert was a fruit and ice cream coupe. Coffee came with a coconut biscuit.
As you can see in the photos and menu descriptions, the chef is preparing a quite complicated cuisine with a wide range of spices and herbs. His presentation and composition of the plates is excellent. In general, it works well, although my preference would be for his simplifying his cuisine so as to get more impact. I was really quite startled to find such an interesting meal in a place that is in no guides that I know of. Les Agapes receives no substantive results when Googled, nor does the name of its chef, Jean-Philippe Douroux. As a result, his prices are necessarily low; there are a 29€ menu and a 23€ menu with two choices for each course. I wish him well and hope that he starts to get some recognition. I suggest that you try Les Agapes if you are near Vence.
4, Place Clémenceau 06140 Vence
04 93 58 50 64