La Réserve de Beaulieu 6
May 31, 2016
On April 27, 2016, Linda and I returned to Le Restaurant des Rois in La Réserve de Beaulieu for dinner. We wondered what effect events might have on the traditional calm and apparent prosperity of the hotel. La Réserve’s sister hotel, La Résidence de la Pinède, in Saint Tropez, was sold in January to Bernard Arnault of LVMH. La Réserve has had several years of ongoing litigation and conflict with the mayor of Beaulieu due to the threat of noisy and dusty construction at the Hôtel Métropole next door. High-end tourism in France has dipped following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Le Restaurant des Rois has been demoted by the Michelin guide to a single star. So we were interested to see what effect all that might have on the restaurant we have long enjoyed.
As we walked toward the dining room through the Bar Gordon Bennett, we were pleased to find that the piano player was still there enhancing the retro grande-luxe ambiance. We were seated at a table beside the window which faces the summer-dining terrace and the bay between Beaulieu and St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and with a view of the dining room and the patio of the hotel.
Eventually there were fifteen diners in the room that evening, but more were at a party in a private dining room. We started with glasses of Taittinger Brut Champagne, then we relaxed and enjoyed the setting. Three little hors d’œuvres arrived: a carrot-sesame lollipop, a cumin wafer and a sweet red pepper on an herbs concoction.
There was no tasting menu, just a prix fixe “Découverte” menu and a vegetarian menu with the option of three or four courses. A short à la carte menu was also available with quite expensive, but interesting, offerings. We chose the four-course “Découverte” menu at €155. Linda asked for the sweetbread dish from the à la carte menu to be substituted for her meat course; the request was graciously accepted. We ordered a bottle of 2010 “Carelle sous la Chapelle” Cristophe Violot-Guillemard 1er Cru Volnay.
This was very good; typical of its type.
The bread basket was passed. Butter was put on the table along with a pâté of olive oil which had a concentrated olive oil taste and avoided the usual drippiness that goes with olive oil for dipping.
Le Préambule was a little cup of finely diced vegetables in a foamy cream sauce.
Okay, but nothing special.
Our first course was
Le Mystère de l’Œuf,
en neige, brioche en grosse chapelure croustillante,
crème de Parmigiano Reggiano.
Somehow they had whisked the egg whites until they were fluffy and then reincorporated the cooked (sous-vide?) yolk. The egg combination was then formed into a sphere and coated with toasted brioche crumbs. It was served with a parmesan wafer and napped with a parmesan cream. The pervasive flavor was of a mild, good parmesan, but the textures made the creation seem luxurious. We enjoyed it and appreciated that it was wine-friendly.
Our fish course was
Le Saint Pierre,
cuit au plat, viennoise d’anchois,
artichauts caramélisés au Parmigiano Reggiano.
Anchovy crumbs served to coat this good filet of Saint Pierre creating a faux Wiener schnitzel. Crushed artichokes and potatoes cooked with parmesan were formed into a faux potato topped with a fried anchovy. The fishiness of the anchovies sparked up the fish filet, but did not overpower it. Very good.
Linda’s meat course was
Le Ris de Veau de nos Terroirs,
braisé, jus réduit et rappée de « Boule de Belp »,
champignons de Paris cuits onctueusement
The sweetbread preparation was excellent and rich. The sauce added after the plate was served was a very good reduction of veal.
My meat course was
L’Agneau du Limousin,
le carré au chèvre de Rocbaron, épaule confite,
cannelloni de courgettes, bonbons d’ail noir.
Different cuts of lamb had been formed into two cubes and a small cylinder. One was topped with goat cheese. Underneath was a good lamb reduction. The pervasive lamb flavor was excellent, and a bit rich; the various textures made the dish more interesting. Alongside were three black garlic balls that emphasized the traditional affinity of lamb and garlic.
Le Pré-dessert was a sorbet of red fruits on a pineapple gratin.
A good palate refresher.
Our dessert was
Le Citron de l’Arrière-Pays,
à notre façon, mousse de lait glacée,
nashi givré d’un sorbet mentonnais.
A candied shell formed a faux lemon filled with a cold mousse and lemon sorbet. The lemon flavor was subtle and aromatic. Very nice.
Finally there were four excellent mignardises for each of us.
On the left is a warm hazelnut financière. In the chocolate cup is a coconut cream with mint.
Our meal was excellent and we enjoyed it very much. But what a difference from our last meal here, which was the second of three menus offered that night, which included langoustine, smoked eel, a generous portion of caviar, turbot and pigeon à la royale. The chef, Yannick Franques, is showing his talent with more common ingredients. I guess that this reflects the reduced circumstances of the hotel, but he succeeded in avoiding any disappointment on our part. It was interesting that no cheese course was shown on the menu or proposed, although it was used in the cuisine. Fortunately, the gracious ambiance continues as before and the servers are superb. We hope that La Réserve will have a great future returning to its former glories.
To see our last meal at La Réserve click here.