Restaurants & Bars

Aix-en-Provence -- L'Amphitryon, Jacquou Le Croquant, La Chimère Café

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Restaurants & Bars

Aix-en-Provence -- L'Amphitryon, Jacquou Le Croquant, La Chimère Café

Helen Rennie | Oct 23, 2002 04:36 PM

Just came back from 2 great weeks in France. I am posting restaurants by region. To see them all, go to my link below. Here are the restaurant reviews from Aix.

L'Amphitryon
3 course menu 30 euros / 5 course menu 45 euros
L'Amphitryon is a lovely restaurant with very friendly service right in the center of Aix. Unfortunately, we could not sit in the courtyard due to the weather, but the dining room was quite cozy. The meal started with smooth and deeply flavorful olive tapenade on toast and olives in herbs of Provence. This was our first meal after we got of the plane and we were glad to have something to munch on while translating the menu items into English. Jason started with an amuse-bouche of creamy cold vegetable soup. It was a very refreshing creation with delicate flavors of celery and carrots with herb oil drizzled on top. My appetizer was a stunning light textured cold eggplant soufflé with flavored oils and roasted vegetables. Jason got a foie gras terrine layered with olives. Foie gras is always good, but we had more delectable interpretations in other restaurants. For the main dishes we got lamb rack with honey and rabbit with apricots. Both came with green beans, tomatoes, and wonderful potato dauphinois wrapped in zucchini. The lamb rack was done to medium rare, very tender and juicy. The rabbit had the texture of turkey - not my favorite bird. I ended my meal with bananas in crème brûlée and Jason got a chocolate cake with chocolate sauce that was too bitter for my taste. Both desserts were unremarkable. Looking back at this meal, I find that all the vegetable dishes really shined, but others were not quite up to par. We still had a very pleasant dinner, but a bit pricey for what the restaurant offered. If you want to try this chef's cooking at more moderate prices, make a reservation at Bistro Latin (little brother of L'Amphitryon).

Jacquou Le Croquant
3 course menu 18.50 euros
"Duck, duck, goose" came to mind when we saw the menu of this south western restaurant (no, not Arizona, Bordeaux - the south west of France :) Appetizers were not too interesting. Mine was a salad topped with very thin slices of foie gras terrine and Jason's was a salad topped with rillettes of pork, chicken and rabbit. Foie gras was good of course, but not very creative. The salad dressing was not great, and the rillettes was dry. From here on the meal got better. I had duck breast with delicious creamy wild mushroom sauce and Jason had fillet of goose with fig sauce. Duck was done to medium rare and was very tender. The goose was a bit on the touch side, but the fig sauce was good. For sides we had potato dauphinois, noodles and barley. They went particularly well with the creamy mushroom sauce. This meal could use a vegetable or two, but it was still very tasty if a bit heavy. For dessert I had a tarte Tatin and Jason had a chocolate mouse cake with Crème Anglaise. Both were good. This was not a refined meal or one that I would call creative, but hearty and satisfying. So, if you are ever in Aix and have a craving for duck, Jacquou Le Croquant is a good place to check out.

La Chimère Café
3 course menu 20 euros
This was a cute little place recommended to us by the locals. They had one dish that was definitely worth the visit - incredible foie gras terrine with onion jam and perfect butter toast that was crisp, but not dry. The other appetizer of the pumpkin soup with shrimp lacked the depth of flavor and silky texture. The veal kidneys were served with a very nice mustard sauce and mashed potatoes, but were a bit on the touch side. Our other main dish was whole sea bream (small Mediterranean white fish) baked with lemon and thyme. It was served with nice creamy herb rice, but still needed a sauce or something to make it more interesting. For desserts we got tarte Tatin and flourless chocolate cake with crème Anglaise. I was on a mission to find the best tart Tatin and Jason was on a mission to find the best chocolate cake, mousse, or mousse cake. La Chimère Café did not help us in our cause since their tart Tatin had a very thin and mushy layer of apples. The chocolate cake was pretty good, but not the best we've had. We did not make reservations in advance and had to sit in the downstairs room with no windows and very funky and glitzy décor (gold mirrors, cherub statues, bright blue white and red walls). If you make a reservation couple of day in advance, you'll get the upstairs rooms that are much more conservative and pleasant.

Link: http://home.mindspring.com/~yrennie/r...

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