Oustau de Baumanière is one of the finest restaurants I have ever eaten in. It’s about an hour’s drive north of Marseilles in a high, hilly country area of Provence. My wife and I visited in October so the lovely-looking outdoor terrace was closed and we ate in the imposing stone walled dining room.
My starter, ravioli de truffe aux poireaux, was truly sublime. The source was astonishing and I was pleased they gave me a flat spoon to eat it all up with. It was an emulsion of leeks with no cream and yet it looked and tasted smooth and creamy. Aileen had a selection of fish to start with.
The main courses were plainer – sea bass and rouget (I don’t know how to translate this fish) – but when the deserts arrived … ohmygod!
I had a souffle a la noisette. I’ve had souffles in a ramekin. I even taught myself to make them – that was a long weekend at Stibbe towers. Here the souffle arrived on the plate without any visible means of support. It was a dome, six inches in diameter. How do they do it? It defies the laws of physics.
Then there came the mother of all cheese trolleys. It had a very clever rotating drum mechanism and contained about thirty cheeses. It may not be the hallmark of a connoisseur but my favourite thing with a top cheese trolley is to ask the waiter to choose a selection for me. It’s a gastronomic journey and this one didn’t disappoint.
Then, to top it off, they deployed the sorbet trolley. Yes, that’s right, a whole tray of homemade sorbets in foot high metal chilled bottles. A selection of sorbets was just what we needed to round out the meal.
The weather was poor when we visited and cold and that rather put a dent in the whole experience. In the summer it must be sublime.
Nearest airport: Avignon
Telephone: + 33 (0)4 90 54 33 07
Closing: Hotel: Wednesday (from November 1st to March 31st) Rest.: Wednesday (from October 1st to April 30th), Thursday at lunch (from November 1st to March 31st). Annual closing: From beginning of January to beginning of February