Les Bacchanales, Vence 2
July 26, 2011
Chef Christophe Dufau was away when we first went to Les Bacchanales for lunch in January 2010. That meal was quite disappointing, but, in view of Dufau’s good reputation among chefs, we thought we should try again and went for dinner on June 18, 2011.
Excellent, fresh, warm grissini with a parsley pesto dip were put on the table. One is flavored with rosemary, the other with olive paste.
The menu offers two choices for starters, then fish, meat and cheese courses, followed by two dessert choices. One can have four dishes for €55, five (our choice) for €65 or all seven for €80. Dufau came out to each table to answer questions about the menu and took the orders. He came around several times during our meal. We asked him about the story that René Rezepi had once worked for him as a stagiaire; he said that during his time as a chef in Denmark, 1992 – 2000, he had come to know Rezepi, who worked for a while for a friend of Dufau.
The amuse-gueule was a small spoonful of spicy crawfish-melon purée followed by a small cup of melon consommé with a green purée.
An imaginative use of seasonal melon.
Bread and butter with sarriette arrived.
We ordered a bottle of 2009 Montez Condrieu, which was very good.
Linda’s first course was
Consommé à l’oeuf et champignons d’Alberto, Coppa Corse
The egg was surrounded by mushrooms, small slices of Corsican ham, leaves and petals. The egg remained separate from the consommé in just the right way to allow one to taste all elements of this very good dish.
My starter was
Marinade de Saint-Pierre du Pays, Choux de printemps et pistache de Sicile
The local fish was prepared like a cevice, but was not too acidic. The vegetables, herbs and gels complemented it nicely.
Our fish course was
Poisson de pèche de Méditerranée, abricot et olive Taggiashe
The fish of the day was Mediterranean grouper. The apricot purée was very tart, but a small dab went well with the slightly sweet fish and the salty black olive purée. The cubes were from new potatoes with a good flavor.
Our meat course was
Veau “Tigre” Corse en Grémolata et aubergine
The veal is from a Corsican breed. It was sauced with eggplant, tomatos, white beans, capers and topped with a mix of finely diced lemon zest, garlic and parsley. This was very good and let us know that summer was arriving on the côte d’azur.
The cheese course was
Fromage de chèvre du Pics des Courmettes enfumé, confiture de noisette
The goat cheese arrived on a round of eucalyptus wood covered with a glass bell. Inside was a burning twig of thyme which was smoking the cheese. It was served with rustic bread sticks, thickened olive oil and conserved hazelnuts. I enjoy cheese courses that include the talents of the chef. Very good.
Our dessert was
Cerise du Mont Ventoux, la meringue de Grandma et granité à l’estragon
The seasonal cherries were served with a cherry sorbet, tarragon granità and a crusty meringue for which Dufau told us that he learned the recipe from his Québécoise mother-in-law. Very good.
The mignardises were rich, iced chocolate truffle cubes.
On leaving we could look back at the lit balcony which we had just left.
This meal was very well conceived and executed. It adhered to modern locavore principles; good quality ingredients were enhanced with regional sauces and garnishes. There were no disappointments. Dufau is very smart to offer a limited menu with just enough choice to satisfy anyone. He can concentrate on freshness and the combinations he has created. The service was efficient; the pace was good after a too long delay for the first courses. We are glad we gave Les Bacchanales a second chance.
To see our lunch at Les Bacchanales in January, 2010, click here.