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Restaurants & Bars

Arles

Ken Fox | Apr 22, 2008 01:10 PM

Having just spent a week here, I have a couple of recommendations to anyone coming out here and looking for a good restaurant meal. Having already overfed myself in Burgundy, my intention here was to economize and not to have any expensive meals. For the most part, I succeeded, although I did have one dinner at one of the two Michelin One Stars here, L'atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel. Briefly stated, this is a Tapas style restaurant which will serve you a whole lot of small "amuse bouche" sized dishes over the course of a meal. This style is popular also with some restaurants in big cities in the USA. This restaurant in Arles was my first personal experience with this format. Speaking only for myself, I don't like the format for a whole host of reasons. For me, fine dining is an exercise in relaxed dining where I savor every bite and wash it down with a nice wine. In this restaurant, with its SIXTEEN plates the night I dined there, your job as diner is to keep eating, and fast, as the next dish is going to appear before you have finished the one you are eating if you are not speedy.

All the dishes were good and I have no complaints about the food, but this format simply does not agree with me even though it might agree with you.

The real "find" of my trip was the sister restaurant to this place, located directly across the street, and called (appropriately) "A Coté." Although there are some Tapas type dishes you can order, the restaurant has more typical bistro fare with a Catalan (Spanish) emphasis, although not entirely, and it is very much a "French" restaurant. There is a daily menu that costs 30 euros for an entree, main course, and dessert, and whatever you might choose for yourself will probably cost about that much, outside of the menu. The wine selection is fairly limited, about 4 each of whites, roses, and reds, ranging in price from 22 to 25 euros per 750ml bottle. The same wines are available by the glass for about 4 euros each.

I ate in this "A Coté" restaurant 4 times in the week and each time it was very good and with today's exchange rate still represents relative value in France. The staff was very attentive and I had both good food and good service. Dishes I enjoyed were the Magret de Canard, the foie gras appetizer, the charcuterie appetizer, the tapenades (there are more than one), and especially the Paella, served Saturdays.

I will pass back through here one more time on this trip and have already reserved a table here for that dinner.

Another place I ate that was good was a small place I found in the Michelin guide (no stars) called "Le Jardin de Manon" on Avenue des Alyscamps. The 32 euro menu is good and they have a good and low priced wine selection. For the price you get an entree, a main course (I had the tenderloin of the local Tauro steers, unique to this region of France), cheese, and a dessert combination plate (very good as well). The atmosphere is quite relaxed and pleasant. I enjoyed the service here as well, which was friendly and attentive.

I had one cheap pizza dinner in a place I would not particularly recommend; the pizza was ok but the atmosphere had nothing to recommend it. If you are looking for a pizza here, ask a local where to go.

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