La Réserve de Beaulieu 5
January 6, 2015
On January 2, 2015, Linda and I returned to Le Restaurant des Rois at La Réserve de Beaulieu-sur-Mer. We had not been there for four years. During this time the restaurant lost its second Michelin star, which is quite extraordinary as it was one of two three-star restaurants on the Côte d’Azur for many years. Owner Jean-Claude Delion, who has achieved three stars at the restaurant of his other grande luxe hotel, La Résidence de la Pinède in Saint-Tropez, undoubtedly will try to reverse the decline at Beaulieu. He had just had Arnaud Donckele, his three-star St Trop Chef, prepare the heavily promoted holiday meals at La Réserve. Our meal was under the direction of Yannick Franques, who recently joined La Réserve after a career of many short stops, including some very prestigious restaurants.
We started with glasses of Taittinger Brut Champagne.
Champagne was certainly appropriate for the ambiance and the New Year’s weekend. We could enjoy the music by the pianist and violinist in the nearby bar.
There was a choice of three menus, in addition to à la carte. We chose the middle one, Le Menu Signature. With the help of the ever jovial sommelier, we ordered a bottle of 2011 Vincent Girardin vielles vignes Chassagne-Montrachet. It had imperceptible oaking, allowing the characteristics of a fine white Burgundy to shine through and enhance the seafood courses. With the pigeon he served us glasses of 2010 Louis Latour Chassagne-Montrachet « Morgeot » 1er Cru rouge: excellent.
The bread basket was passed; I chose cereal bread. It was served with an olive oil « spread » that seemed like an interesting idea, but was unpleasantly oily.
The menu started with
This was sort of a decomposed tzatziki. On top was a creamy yoghurt with olive oil. Underneath were cucumber pearls with mint and parsley. This was a good refreshing way to prepare the palate.
La Langoustine et le Poulpe,
inspirés d’un sashimi assaisonné au futaba, anguille fumée, glace au jus de yuzu
A round of slightly marinated langoustine and octopus was topped with smoked eel and a sesame/nori flavoring mix inspired by Futaba brand rice flavoring mixes. On top was a mild yuzu ice cream. This modern fusion dish was not authentic anything, but it was delicious.
Le Caviar de Sologne,
sur une pissaladière d’oignons nouveaux, façon tatin, crème réduite aux parfums d’anchois et romarin
Young onions had been nicely caramelized. They were molded into a round which was topped with a thick anchovy and rosemary cream. It was all topped with a generous mound of French caviar. Niçois street food, pissaladière, had been transformed into a good luxury dish.
Le Turbot Sauvage,
grillé, poireaux fondants, vinaigrette truffée, sabayon moutardé
A piece of lightly grilled turbot was on top of a circle of leeks slowly cooked until they were very soft. The leeks were topped with a truffled vinaigrette. On top of the turbot was a thin slice of black truffle. Underneath it all was a mustard/saffron sabayon. While a piece of good turbot is always enjoyable, I think that the chef tried to do too much here. The dish lacked focus and did not have a point of origin, unlike the three previous courses.
Le Pigeon du « Chapon Bressan »,
à la royale, spaghetti de céleri-rave truffé, tourte Pasqualine, sauce liée au foie gras
A pink breast of a pigeon was dressed with a sauce based on the famous Lièvre à la Royale. That is to say with red wine, pigeon blood and foie gras. It is very rich, which is the point in this holiday season, but the pigeon and celery root were delicious on their own and not overly heavy. Underneath was a “spaghetti” made from truffled celery root. This was an enjoyable and appropriate main course for this meal, enhanced by the glass of red Burgundy the sommelier had selected for us.
On top was a granité of Buddha’s hand citrus. Underneath were bits of three other citrus fruits: mandarines, grapefruit and lemon. This was surprisingly not too sweet or acidic. It was appropriate after the rich pigeon.
sorbet Granny Smith, billes de pomme, fraîcheur asiatique
Little apple balls were served with cubes of green apple sorbet. In the grappa glass was gingered apple juice. While this was nice, I would have expected a more ambitious dessert in a menu such as this.
We had a very good time and enjoyed the meal. The best dishes were those with a focus, although they might wander substantially from the originals on which they were based, which had Greek, Japanese, Niçois and traditional French origins. The service was excellent, of course, and the pace was just right. It will be interesting to see if La Réserve can regain its top culinary reputation over the next few years. Stay tuned here.
The restaurant’s website: