The last week has been unusual here in Villefranche. Each year we try to have a couple of really nice dinners while we are here. We missed a great dinner on New Year's Eve because Jane was sick. Then for some reason we spent the next two months here without going out for our fancy dinners. Well we have now made for that error.
The first thing we did was to walk to Beaulieu for lunch at the African Queen, one of the fanciest and most expensive restaurants in Beaulieu which is saying something. We figured it would be less expensive at lunch time which was true, but we were still blown away by the expense. The restaurant is very pleasant, the staff welcoming and professional and the food very good. Nevertheless, the cost was far more than the experience warranted. You can read my review on Trip Advisor here.
We do have a rule that once we are somewhere we do our best to enjoy it and forget about the terrible consequences, like paying the bill and increased waist lines. We started by sharing an arugula salad with wonderful parmesan cheese. What you see in the picture is my half. The original presentation was much nicer than what I did when splitting it.
We followed that with sole. Sole is a kind of flounder, and the sole here is not the same as Dover sole. It has more texture and flavor. You buy the whole fish paying by the gram. This one is ours and it weighs (according to the restaurant 1 kilogram).
The fish is cooked whole. In our case just grilled with butter and some seasoning. Then with some magic work by the waiter the bones are taken out.
We then each received a plate with two filets.
It was delicious, although as you can see it had a little too much butter. It was served with some vegetables and potatoes, which were fresh and delicious.
We then went on to dessert. The waiter showed us a huge tray full of pastries and other delicacies. We decided to split a puff pastry with a cream filling and beautiful looking fresh raspberries. Unfortunately, we cut it in half before remembering to take a photo.
The cream filling and the raspberries were just as wonderful as we had hoped they would be. Unfortunately, the puff pastry was heavy and tough. We ate it all anyway. We ended with Jane having a coffee, and I tried the chocolat chaud. As a reader of this blog, you know that I have been searching for the perfect chocolat chaud for several years. It is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Well, the new winner is the African Queen restaurant. It comes with the hot semi-frothed milk in one container, the melted chocolate in another and the whipped cream in another. You mix it yourself. The chocolate was perfect in both taste and consistency and when I did the perfect mixing, voilà the winner.
All was well with the world as we ended the meal.
Then, of course, the bill came, and we were forced to return to reality such as it is on the Côte d'Azur.
We also had a very nice dinner at a different restaurant in Beaulieu, L'escentiel. It is a small, family run restaurant that is warm and inviting. The server, probably the wife, is friendly, knowledgeable and professional. The chef who often appeared with the dishes he had prepared was the same. You can read my full review on Trip Advisor here. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos of the meal. We did get a photo of the menu which is all on three blackboards one for starters, one for main courses and one for desserts. It is a limited menu, but that makes it possible to make everything on the premises (note the sign above the blackboards which tells you that).
The food, service and ambience at L'escentiel were all fantastic and better than the African Queen for less than half the price. If you are ever in or near Beaulieu, you should go to this restaurant for either lunch or dinner.
Last night we went to the fancy restaurant that we go to almost every time we are in Villefranche, L'Oursin Bleu (translated: The Blue Sea Urchin). It is one of the nice restaurants right on the water. I did not write a review this time, but you can see two prior reviews on Trip Advisor here and here. Knowing what would be coming later, we skipped a starter. They give you little treats when you arrive and also an amuse bouche. The amuse bouche was a small portion of a wonderful butternut cream soup. For the main course, we both had filet de bœuf Limousine (beef from the Limousine region of France) which was fantastic with a little mushroom sauce. There are no vegetables on the menu at all and the beef usually comes with mashed potatoes. We asked our waiter if we could have vegetables with the meat. He said, of course. You can see what we got.
What a delicious main course it was. L'Oursin Bleu is a traditional French restaurant, and as such it offers Crêpes Suzettes flambées. Here you can see the waiter at work and then the wonderful results of his efforts.
So we had another fantastic meal and experience at L'Oursin Bleu. It is not inexpensive, but it is a good price to quality ratio.
This last week has not been unusual just because of the eating we have been doing. The weather has been very bad and very unusual. Here is a picture the waiter took of us last night as we were leaving L'Oursin Bleu.
It may not show up very well in this photo, but that is snow in the background. We have had snow several days. Here is a view from our balcony. You should be happy you were not living on the sailboat.
Our French teacher had to go to Eze which is high above Villefranche to pick up her son one day after our lesson. She sent us this picture. It is not often you see snow on top of a palm tree.
Today when we stopped in at our favorite bakery to get bread for lunch, we asked Marie Claire, the owner, when was the last time it had snowed. She said eight years ago and then just one day. By the way if you are ever in Villefranche on a day other than Tuesday or Wednesday and need some bread, go to Chez Marie Claire. She has the best bread. It is one of the things that I will miss the most when we leave. Anyway, there is no more snow in the forecast, just rain for the next week or two.
We leave on a 6:30 am flight on Saturday. We have had a great time and are looking forward to our return in the fall.
Thanks for reading and please comment,
The Unabashed Liberal