Restaurant L’eSCentiel, Beaulieu-sur-Mer

November 3, 2015

Charles Séméria opened Restaurant L’eSCentiel three years ago across from the city hall in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. He had worked in the kitchens of many of the grand hotels on the Côte d’Azur for thirty years and wanted to have his own not-so-grand place in his home town. Linda and I went for dinner on October 2, 2015.

We were seated in the corner by the window in the rustic eighteen-seat dining room.
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Indirect light came from hanging bulbs in orange glass covers, which gave an orange glow to everything, including my photos.
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We started with flutes of Champagne. Crisps with a chickpea dip were put on the table.
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The menu is posted in a slate on the wall. Five choices were offered for starters and dessert, three for main courses.
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We ordered a bottle of 2013 Domaine de La Garenne Bandol red wine from the small, mostly regional, wine list.
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Enjoyable, but it could have used some more age.

Linda’s starter was
Œufs brouillés au Tartufon
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“Scrambled” eggs infused with garlic and parsley, with a touch of truffle in the center. Good texture and flavors, served with a fresh wedge of toast. Excellent starter.

Mine was
Jambon Serrano « 16mois »,
Pan Bagnat à l’ail et Tomate écrasé
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The aged Spanish ham was on the counter by the entrance when we arrived. The chef, shown at the counter, took it into the kitchen to make me a generous portion of thin slices. It was very good, meaty with just the right balance of moisture and dryness. The toast slices dressed with tomato and garlic and the little salad were good accompaniments.

Linda’s main course was
Risotto « Arborio » à la Courge Butternut,
Noisettes et Pignon Torréfiés
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The butternut squash flavor was well done and the roasted hazelnuts and pine nuts gave a nice bit of crunch to this very good risotto, which was offered as a main dish.

I went on to
Sauté d’agneau au Garam Massala,
Petits légumes du Pays
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The south Asian spice mix in the sauce was a surprise in this dish, which, like most of the menu, was otherwise true to its Provençale origins. The lamb chunks were tender and flavorful. The fresh vegetables added interesting variety. Nice.

Linda’s dessert was
Clafoutis aux Mirabelles
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Good, fresh custard tart of seasonal yellow plums.

My dessert was
Gratin de figue noir à la Vanille
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There were plenty of fresh black figs in this vanilla gratin.

On leaving we saw this Tourte Feuilletée aux Blettes on the counter. It was one of the options for dessert. This pastry filled with sweetened chard is a traditional Niçoise specialty.
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We enjoyed a lovely evening at Restaurant L’eSCentiel. The cuisine was executed with care and a feeling for the traditions of the area. The service was friendly and efficient. The noise level was low. The pace was fine. We will be back. 

Linda and I returned to Restaurant L’eSCentiel for dinner with Judith on October 12, 2015.
Here was the display as one enters.
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This time we were seated at the table next to the front counter, where the light is direct and I could take clearer photos. We started with glasses of Champagne along with the crisps and chickpea dip.
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The menu on the chalkboard was mostly different from what it had been ten days before, except for the desserts. We ordered a bottle of 2013 Château Tour Saint Honoré. This bio wine from Provence was made with Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren and Mourvèdre grapes. It was fairly robust and tannic and could have used time in the cellar, but that is unrealistic in most restaurants.


Linda repeated her first course from the last dinner:
Œufs brouillés au Tartufon.
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She said that it was as good as last time.

Judith and I had:
Salade Tiède Bayaldi au Mignon de Porc.
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This was very good. The warm slices of eggplant and tomato were interleaved with slices of flavorful pork and dressed with a mild sauce that brought out the flavors. The arugula on top provided freshness and the few pickle slices some additional interest.

Judith’s main course was
Filet de Loup Sauvage Braisé,
Julienne de légumes, beurre Citron Ciboulette.
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She wrote: “My fish dish was very moist and tender with a balanced flavor that blended seamlessly with the julienned vegetables and two potato wedges.  It was one of the best fish dishes that I’ve had in a very long time.”

Linda had
Mini farfalles
Cuisinées à la pancetta et Crème de Parmesan.
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Bow-tie pasta with good parmesan sauce and meaty bacon.  Not as dynamic as Linda’s risotto the previous visit, but not expected to be so. 

I had
Blanquette de Veau à l’ancienne,
Riz Camarguais cuit Pilaw.
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This traditional stew, made with only lightly browning the veal, can be quite boring, but the chef brought out the flavors, as he does in many dishes. There was plenty of sauce to go with the rice. Very good.

The ladies skipped dessert while I had what we had seen on the counter when leaving the last time
Tourte feuilletée aux Blettes.
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This traditional local pie was excellent. Once again the chef succeeded in bringing out the inherent flavors with just enough sugar to balance the slight bitterness of the chard. The puff pastry was light and crusty. The ice cream made it a complete dessert.

The meal was very good, far better than one expects in a modest, low-priced restaurant, especially in a tourist town like Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Bravo, Charles.

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