La Bastide Saint Antoine, Restaurant, Grasse, France
This isn’t only a restaurant but a very beautiful residence, comprising a few buildings which are used as hotel, spa and relaxation zones. Surrounded by a park of olive trees, sculptures and a botanic garden, you feel yourself calming down from the first moment, and you really feel a kind of spirit of Provence – although it is on the Cote de Azur.
This noble restaurant south of Grasse, and also not far from Cannes, is the best expression of my general aloofness regarding to Southern France. On one hand, of course, it offers very good – sometimes excellent – food, on the other hand, it is much too expensive. The price/ performance ratio – to put it into business terms – isn’t correct. Is it because of the location – in other words the real estate – or simply because people are ready to pay so much more for food and wine here than in other places? Just as it is very affordable to out for an impressive dinner in Berlin (and regrettable as it is to say, it is perhaps really too cheap considering all efforts behind it), so are most of restaurants along Cote de Azur or to be precise La Bastide Saint Antoine uniformly overpriced.
Vegetables, fish, Mediterranean ingredients, fruits – this is all available in the neighborhood – if not directly in La Bastide’s own garden. Perhaps you need to enlarge the radius a bit, but still, in comparison to most of the cities of northern Europe, it should be easier to get fresh stuff here without the high transport costs.
Due to my profession, I have been to La Bastide Saint Antoine many times. And still the staff does not recognize me, which either is to be explained by the fact that they have a lot of visitors (who visit the place even more than me), or they simply do not pay such close attention. I shouldn’t take this personally.
This all said, in general you’re getting a great dinner. Chef Jacques Chibois’s style is more or less what I would call Southern French cuisine; classic combinations, solidly conservative without a risk experiencing a failure but always very satisfying. Some menus are really amazing, others are closer to boring or at least totally predictable. All a little bit like the furniture.
Usually you have the choice of two different menus but you can go a la carte as well. Menus change often with the seasons. As said, I wouldn’t expect huge differences between the different seasons – the style always remains the same. People know what they are getting. The following is a selection of the smaller menu. The presentation is very much in line with the style of the house – not terribly inspiring.
truffled asparagus soup, foie gras, cream of parmesan sprinkled with young salad
poached egg, celery with truffle coulis on its fondue of grey shrimps and lobster, saffron broth
turbot with tomato marinière on a Socca de Caviar Osciètre Kristal – served with oysters and shells
roast lamb , rosemary juice, cèdre confit from Corsica, fava beans , young fennel, green peas , zucchini, artichokes and eggplant
“The first” fresh goat cheese crushed with news olives plus “the colors of spring” and olive oil
Strawberries and mandarin oranges garnished with a vanilla emulsion, sorrel sorbet along with a raspberry cake and pistachio
The wine selection is very large. It contains almost exclusively French wine, but then again what else you would expect in a conservative French restaurant. However, they have a nice selection of local and regional wines. Pricing again is more than questionable. A Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2011 is almost € 500 (!). Although I remember some years ago we went there for a board meeting followed by a dinner, and instead of a more expensive nice magnum, the sommeliers recommended bottles of a younger Bordeaux – which were really reasonably priced. Maybe it is worth speaking with them while you are selecting the wine.
Visiting this place is worth it, once a while. The very best would be, to be honest – if someone else pays for it! If you’re paying yourself, make sure that you are safely grounded. It is certainly a lovely, if not even romantic place, also for staying one or even two nights – perhaps this is less expensive than the wine and food. You can find everything about La Bastide also on their webpage: http://www.jacques-chibois.com/.
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