New and Old 3 Stars of France

Saturday, July 07th , 2018

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In the 2018 guide there were two new three star restaurants in France. Restaurant Christophe Bacquie is in the south of France between Marseilles and Toulon, located in a large resort hotel. He specialises in seafood and we had a tasting menu that featured this, the star dish being a superb barbecued langoustine. This was a good meal, marred only by an annoying sommelier and a weird dessert.

The other newbie is also a reference to the past. Maison du Bois is the new restaurant of legendary chef Marc Veyrat, who had three stars at two separate locations over a decade ago, in Annecy and Megeve. Now recovered from a serious skiing accident, he has opened a restaurant on the site of the house where he was born up in the Alps (the view is pictured), and certainly the location is stunning. The meal was enjoyable and was full of theatrical flourishes, though to be honest the food is not of the level that I recall from his glory days in Annecy.

Two venerable three stars, however, are keeping up the standard admirably. Auberge de l’Ill has one of the prettiest settings of any restaurant, overlooking a weeping willow-lined river in Alsace. This meal was excellent, living up to the superb setting, with a particularly enjoyable Bresse chicken dish with truffle.

Pic in Valence is another restaurant with considerable history, and these days is home to the very precise cooking of Anne-Sophie Pic. This was a classy meal, with fabulous pigeon the star of the savoury courses. The pastry section here is without doubt one of the best in France, and they brought out several cracking dishes, the most remarkable being an extraordinary apricot dessert with amazing flavour and a hint of spice – it is one of the finest things I have ever eaten.