Fuveau restaurant review
Perestrello Geller stops off at O Bistrot Gourmand, Fuveau Restaurant, nr Aix en Provence
Usually I don’t have much time for the opinions of the great unwashed. It’s why TripAdvisor is such a useless tool. For God’s sake, according to the general public the best restaurant in Aix en Provence is a burger shop. If all that matters in life is a smile as you get served a quarter pounder, then go right ahead, follow the herd, choose your restaurant according to the lowest common denominator of taste, the Trip Advisor rating.
So I ridiculed my new partner when she suggested that we stop off in Fuveau to eat at O Bistrot Gourmand.
‘It’s got 57 five star ratings’ she said proudly.
‘Friends and family of the owner’ I scoffed and put my foot down, determined to push-on towards the warmth of the Riviera.
‘Perostrello, where’s your sense of adventure?’
‘Alright don’t say I didn’t warn you.’
Fuveau I imagine is a dream in the summer. Years ago some wise old Mayor invested heavily in plane trees. Hundreds of them line the streets and the central square is encircled by them. In winter though their skeletal silhouettes lend a slightly forbidding air to the place.
‘The locusts got here first’ I joked determined not to enjoy the experience.
‘Here we are,’ said my partner.
I peered at the plat du jour, Pintarde frites, for 9 euros 50. That’s posh chicken and chips. Rather than a burger shop we’d ended up in Nandos. Inside I could see those high chairs and tables so loved by bars that attempt to serve food to go with their overpriced drinks. I wanted to leave and head back to the Maserati but my partner was already inside, determined not to be proved wrong.
I wobbled on my high stool, and looked at the menu, three courses for 29 euros, or the guinea fowl and chips with a café gourmand bolted on the end for €12,50. From my vantage point I could see the chef in the kitchen shaking his chip pan, all he needed was a uniform with a clucking hen on, and we’d be firmly in fried chicken land. It was a leap of faith to let this man cook for me, but what choice did I have.
My voyage of discovery began with a cepe tarte. For those Trip Advisor readers who might have accidentally stumbled on this review, I’ll translate – that’s posh mushrooms on toast. I tentatively chewed the first mouthful. Give me a toga, and I’d have looked like the taster for a Roman Emperor, wondering whether the forkful was poisoned.
‘Well?’ said my partner.
‘It’s actually quite good,’ I replied, cheering up and speedily cleaning my plate, ‘really quite good,’ I said licking my fork.
Next was a seafood risotto. Now thanks to Jamie Oliver risotto has become the modern porridge. Replace the milk with white wine and the cooking instructions are basically the same, stir occasionally and wait till cooked. Trip Advisor man loves risotto because it makes him feel posh, cosmopolitan and educated. Note though wild mushroom is passé, artichoke is where it’s at.
As with every seafood risotto that’s ever been set before me, I had a moment of wistful regret. What I really wanted, what everybody really wants when ordering a seafood risotto is a paella. A plate full of great big prawns, gaping mussels and the kick you in the face flavours of Spain. Still, there’s a place for subtly and gentle flavours, I just wasn’t sure that Chip-pan man in the kitchen would be able to deliver. I pulled the Emperor’s taster face again and began.
‘Well’ said my partner, happily eating her Pintarde frite.
‘It’s, it’s, absolutely and completely, totally, delicious’ I said.
‘Told you so.’
‘How’s the Nandos?’
‘Taste the sauce and you’ll see’
The pintarde was served with a deep reduction, a gravy if you like, but a gravy of such depth of flavour that it would have graced the table of any Michelin establishment. The meat was moist and perfectly cooked and the chips home cut and gently fried. It was a triumph of a plate du jour.
For dessert I had a chestnut crème brulee and my partner a chocolate mousse topped with passion fruit ice-cream. The later was a Tripadvisor pleaser no-doubt, but a totally ridiculous combination. As for the crème brulee, it’s never a dish that’s going to make you go weak at the knees and plead for more, and it was a relief to finish it.
If I’m honest I’m complaining about the desserts largely because I can’t be seen to agree with the Tripadvisor herd. What’s the point in adding another 5 star rating to the 57 the Bistrot Gourmand has already accrued. It’s a fine restaurant, and Fuveau is a great stop-off from the moment the leaves begin sprouting on the plane trees in late April.
I’m going on-line now, to create my TA profile and then just to be perverse I’ll give the place 4 out of 5.