La Réserve de Beaulieu, 4

November 9, 2010

On October 11, 2010, Linda, Tony and I returned to La Réserve for dinner. It was just too late in the season to sit on the terrace.
The elegant old dining room was decorated with small pots of white orchids on each table and larger ones at the ends. We could hear the piano player in the bar. We ordered glasses of La Réserve’s reserve Champagne.  Hors d’oeuvres arrived: a bowl of six accras de crevettes which were very good. The shrimp are a level above the normal codfish.

There were three other nice tidbits for each of us.

We decided on the Menu Horizon Gourmand. Extensive discussions then followed with the charming, voluble and knowledgable sommelier. We ordered a bottle of 2007 Bachelet Ramonet Morgeot Chassagne Montrachet; it was very good. This was followed by a bottle of 2000 Domaine de Trevallon rouge.

It was up to its high reputation.

Then came the start of the menu
Amuse-bouche de « La Réserve »

This was a cèpe cooked on a miniature grill which brought out its flavor in a good, unusual way. With it were two little nems of Jabugo ham and a fresh almond.

Foie gras de canard du Sud Ouest,
En terrine marbrée au Syrah,
Cœur de poire Martin Sec poché aux épices et zestes de citron

The cubes of foie gras terrine were flavorful and nicely offset by the spiced poached pear.

À la vapeur de citron de pays et piment d’Espelette,
Petits légumes de l’arrière pays,
bouillon goûté de basilic et truffes d’automne,
D’autres en tartare rafraîchi de bergamote et coquillages

The aroma of the langoustine was noticeable as soon as the plates were put in front of us. It was definitely top quality. The broth underneath had a lovely mild flavor which enhanced both the langoustine and the little mound of vegetables and shellfish. 

Loup sauvage,
Cuit basse T°,
glacé d’une réduction de carotte / orange,
Légumes dans l’esprit d’une barigoule à la coriandre fraîche,
Jus iodé émulsionné d’une huile de Bouteillan

The piece of Mediterranean sea bass was also top quality and perfectly cooked. It had been topped with a carrot-orange glaze. The seafood broth frothed with olive oil enhanced both the fish and the mixed vegetables. 

Agneau laiton de l’Aveyron,
Filet en croûte d’herbes,
selle gratinée aux épices saté et pignons de pin,
Blanc de blette glacé au jus,
cannelloni de ricotta au vert et olives niçoises

A thick loin chop of young lamb had been dressed with herbs. A piece of saddle of lamb was cooked with a crust of pine nuts with oriental spices. A cannelloni filled with ricotta had been formed from chard leaves and was on top of a large braised chard rib. The whole dish was rich and full of interesting flavors.

Linda’s and my dessert was
Figues noires / Raisins / Brousse de Montagne,
Fine meringue craquante flambée sous vos yeux,
Chutney de figues et pignons de pin,
Brousse de montagne frappée au thym citronnelle

The flaming of the meringue made it hot and crusty. The variety of flavors and textures in the dessert made it interesting and enjoyable.

Tony had the alternative dessert based on chocolate. (I have lost the description.)

Douceurs & mignardises

We were each served three very complex little bonbons. The mignardise cart was wheeled up; we chose a few things, but they served us a plate with several more. All were good, of course.

The meal was what one expects at La Réserve: top quality, luxurious ingredients presented in dishes which are complex, but which do not overshadow the main item. There is enough imagination to keep it interesting, but not so much as to diverge from classic French cuisine. The service is excellent, of course, and the ambience sublime, particularly when there were only a few other tables occupied. We were the first to arrive and the last to leave.

On departing through the bar we passed the cart with bottles of Armagnac from many years. We also passed the display case in which the jewelry had been replaced by a bottle of 1820 cognac, which the hotel had recently acquired.

I still feel that La Réserve does a better job of presenting a “Grande Luxe” restaurant than its neighboring, more hyped competitor, Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo. La Réserve’‘s cuisine is at least as good and more fitting; the ambience seems more established and the price, while high, is not so extravagent.

To see our meal at La Réserve a year ago click here.

3 Responses to “La Réserve de Beaulieu, 4”

  1. George Rusznak Says:

    When I was in the process of seducing Julie into moving to the Côte d’Azur, we stayed at one of the top rooms overlooking Cap Ferrat and, naturally, ate at the restaurant. It was a similar, most satisfying experience. That was in 1992. It is nice to see/read, that nothing seems to have been lost.

    During our years living there we went back several times, although, with the countless options available near and far, not as often as, in hindsight, we should have. We also agree with your comparision to Louis XV.

    It always pleasantly surprised us how good many restaurants located in hotels are in that part of the world. We were frequently reminded that rooms (hotels) were/are often just for the convenience of diners, so that further traveling after a good meal is not necessary.

    On one occasion we were severly reprimended when checking in we indicated that we did not require reservation for the evening meal. We were clearly made to feel rather uncivilized. Rightfully so.


  2. Timothy P Ojile Says:

    Michael, Your photography of the courses at La Reserve, judging by the comparison of last year’s and this year’s, has become easier to read, light and composition much improved. You are becoming an expert in food photography (already an expert in the “Art of Eating.”)

    • Michael Says:

      This year was in a well lit dining room; last year was on the edge of the terrace next to the sea in the twilight, which is a more exquisite setting, but not as good for photos. In a place like La Réserve I do not use a flash.

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