Auberge Eric Maio, Montauroux
October 11, 2010
When we are driving back to our house in Beaulieu-sur-Mer from most places in France, we like to break the trip with a last lunch somewhere in the Var, the department just west of our own. We used to stop at the notorious truffle king: Bruno of Lorgues. More recently we have favored Le Relais des Moines. But on driving back from Arles on September 17, 2010, we chose a new spot, L’Auberge Eric Maio near Montauroux, almost on the eastern border of the Var, ten minutes north of the autoroute. This had the advantage of a shorter after-lunch drive home. We had never been there, despite its having been awarded a Michelin star five years ago.
The restaurant looks modest from the outside, but the dining room is spacious and welcoming.
Linda ordered a glass of Champagne and I had the house aperitif. Nice.
The amuse-gueule was a gazpacho with a sorbet of yellow tomato and a summer truffle inside a potato ball.
There were several set menu choices. We ordered the Menu Epicurien, which featured summer truffles of the region. We ordered a bottle of 2007 Domaine Jas d’Esclans, Cuvee du Loup, grown nearby. It is 80% de Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, drinkable now, but it would be better with more age.
The first course was
Soupe de champignons en émulsion, langoustines rôties, truffe d’été en fines lamelles comme un capuccino
This included the first cepes of the season and girolles. It had a lovely woodsy, truffly flavor. The langoustine in it was top quality and enjoyable; it was not obvious to me why this was thought to be a good combination, but its aura of noble ingredients set the stage for the next course.
Pigeon en croûte farci de truffes et fois gras, blettes et pignons torréfiés.
Les carcasses à la presse pour jus.
The pigeon was still nice and rare inside its puff pastry crust. It was infused with the flavors of the foie gras and truffles while the chard gave some textural relief. We ate this in very small bites, enjoying its luscious, luxurious flavors. The row of girolles and truffle slices alongside gave us something to nibble on between bites of the pigeon. Mmmm.
Fromages affinés de nos régions
The cheese tray was large, but seemed to be in excellent condition. I chose one each from the cow, sheep and goat sections; they were served with a spoonful of honey. There was also a tray of confitures, nut and dried fruits to nibble on with the cheese. Very nice and appropriate with the kind of cuisine.
The pre-dessert was a tartelette of almonds and pistachios with a ball of olive sorbet on top.
Refreshing and good.
The strawberry dessert arrived in a stack of three clear bowls with a strawberry in a clear sugar coating on top.
Une vision différente d’un fraisier en 2010
Entre olives noires confites et bébé fraise.
Crème glacé minute à l’huile d’olive.
The little wild strawberries on an olive wafer were particularly good.
There were extensive mignardises. The dessert creams had been appropriately somewhat sweet to offset the slight tartness of the strawberries, but the mignardises were very sweet and so we skipped them as we couldn’t take any more sugar.
The meal was very good of its type: a rich, traditional country French cuisine. It might have been more appropriate a few months later in the year, but this was a cool day and one could sense autumn on the way. If our fall dining will be like this, we will be happy.
The restaurant’s website: