St Remy de Provençe
We’re in St Remy in Provençe and no visit there would be complete without a visit to La Cassolette. This intimate and unpretentious restaurant, located on a narrow side street of the town, is an old favourite of ours, so it feels slightly odd to be reviewing it after all this time, but hey, here goes.
There are four of us to dine and the welcome at La Cassolette is always warm, the service prompt, the portions generous. We opt for the set menu at €21 per head (there is also a cheaper option at a surely unbeatable €13!). For starters, there’s a wonderfully rich and aromatic fish soup, which is served with toasted French bread, grated cheese and a bowl of thick, garlicky aioli. There’s also rillette de rougete de bassillic (potted red mullet, light and citrusy, marvellous) and a superbly flavoursome goat’s cheese salad.
On to the main courses. Two of us opt for Gardianne de Toro, a beef stew (made from the bull rather than the cow) with large melt-in-the-mouth chunks of meat flavoured with red wine and the unexpected contrast of slices of orange. This is served with a mound of wild Carmargue rice and mopped up with slices of really fresh French bread. Delicious. Susan samples the pavé of rump steak, a meal that’s notoriously easy to get wrong, but this is an unqualified delight, mouth-watering and succulent with fat, crispy on the outside and nicely rare within. It comes with a perfectly judged potato dauphinoise and grilled tomato Provençal. One of our guests samples the sole meunière, light, fluffy and glorious in a beurre sauce, served with fresh vegetables.
If I’m honest the sweets don’t quite display the perfection of the previous courses – there’s a tart au citron that, though perfectly acceptable, is a little sweeter than I’d really like: a huge sticky rum baba that’s so shot full of rum it makes your head swim: there’s a panna cotta, which though delicious, hasn’t quite set, and there’s a trapezienne – a Genoese sponge cake swimming in creme patisserie. This is all fine, but it lacks the precision of the earlier courses.
We drink a carafe of the local rosé wine, which works out around a pound a glass and we feel we’ve enjoyed a superb meal at a great value price. If you’re lucky enough to be around St Remy and you’d like to sample traditional cuisine, this is definitely a place that’s worth a visit.