La Villa Archange, Le Cannet 2

November 1, 2011

Linda and I ate at La Villa Archange in October 2010 a few months after it opened and was still not in any of the guides. I wrote then that, if I were a Michelin inspector, I would have no trouble recommending two stars. Last March Michelin did award the two stars, which is an unusual achievement for a new restaurant even when the chef is well known. So Linda and I were looking forward to a fine meal when we returned to La Villa Archange for dinner on September 7, 2011.

The weather was lovely so everyone was served outside in the patio. We were quickly served glasses of Laurent Perrier champagne and an assortment of interesting hors d’œuvres.

There was no à la carte offering, just a choice of four different menus, ranging from four to seven courses at prices from 95 € to 185 €. We selected the second largest, the Menu Archange. We ordered a bottle of 2009 “Doriane” Guigal Condrieu from the very expensive wine list; it was superb, as it should be. (The most reasonably priced white wine is the Cuvée Saint Pierre from the monks on the nearby Iles de Lérin. We enjoyed it on our last visit, but, since we now have quite a lot of the monks’ wine in our cellar, we thought we should try something else.)

A basket of breads and three different butters arrived.

The round breads on the right were warm and truffled and excellent.

The amuse-gueule was a gelée de chorizo.

This was interesting for being unusual. The spicy chorizo (a Spanish sausage) flavor came through, but was not overwhelming. I did not hear what the raft of garnishes in front were; they were pretty without adding much.

The first course was
Foie Gras de Canard Fumé à la Pomme et Calvados

The two blocs of smoked duck foie gras terrine were topped with Calvados gelée. The apple strips came in various shapes; the bottom ones seemed to have been marinated in Calvados. This course was well prepared and enjoyable, but seemed quite ordinary for a restaurant in this category.

Tortellini de Fromages Transalpins à la Langouste

I am sceptical of mixing seafood and cheese, but was willing to have this talented chef show us how to do it. The Italian cheeses inside the tortelloni and grated into the birds nest didn’t have much a presence, leaving the dish to be dominated by the excellent shellfish reduction sauce and the three medallions of spiny lobster.

Cube de Turbot à la Marinière, Méli-Mélo de Coquillages

The green circles were a cucumber reduction gel. The sauce had small clams and sea snails in cucumber juice. Above were black squid ink gnocchi and a tempura shrimp. 

Platinium Pêche Melba

On top of the cake base was a swirl of white chocolate, a peach sorbet roll and a bit of silver foil. 

Les Délices des Anges

These mignardises were all very good, particularly the cold cubes of dark chocolate served on ice cubes.

Our meal had been very enjoyable, in a nice setting with good service and the right pace. But we didn’t come away with the same feeling that we had the last time that this was a two-star meal. The conception and execution did not seem special enough to justify these high prices. As I have said of other restaurants in the Cannes, Mougins, Grasse area, it can be very difficult to maintain standards when the clientèle is dominated by vacationers and congress attendees who like the idea of high-end dining, but are not good judges of it. I took the photo below on our way out. On the left you can see a table of nine Russians who didn’t have a clue what to expect or how to behave. The staff was very patient with them.

Bruno Oger is obviously a talented chef and he has one advantage here. His attached bistro and bar are big successes and can draw on a local clientèle all year. This may provide synergies which could help maintain La Villa Archange. We were a little discouraged when he came by our table and only wanted to talk to us about how there had been many American clients during the summer.

To see our lunch at La Villa Archange a year ago click here.

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