Le Club 55

Plage de Pampelonne 83350 RamatuelleFR • +33 4 94 55 55 55 • club55.fr

There is an old French saying that roughly translates to mean, “may this misery never leave us,” which is as sarcastic as it is perfect for describing what it was like to sail to Saint Tropez for the day and dine on the beach at Le Club 55. Yes, I live an extremely charmed life and I work very hard to keep that in perspective. So I tell you this not as a “look at me,” but rather as strong nudge to YOU, because if you should ever find yourself in the South of France, you owe this to yourself. Yes, it’s a bit of commitment (two hours from Cannes each way), but sacre bleu is it worth it!

Strung together like a bunch of Gilligan’s Island-esque straw huts, this place continues to grow and sprawl across the sand like the Zabar’s of the Cote d’Azur. And also like Zabar’s, it is as far from fancy as it is from Cannes. This is toes in the sand and swim suit on butt couture.

But don’t let the casual façade fool you, because getting a table is serious business, and so is the food. For example, their crudité bests some of the finest restaurants in the world, including Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Bohemian in NYC. Served on a bountiful wooden board (pictured) and loaded with farm-grown fireworks in the form of vegetables. The tomatoes speak for themselves, needing no salt, nor sauce. The radishes bite back. And the red pepper tastes like a conversation you simply can’t get enough of. Oui, it is an Ultimate of ultimate proportions.

Two other stellar dishes are the beef tartar served with crack-tastic chips and the bone-simple, equally magnificent, perfectly cooked whole fish. And that seems to be the name of the game here. Keep it simple, because when they strayed and tried to get a little too fancy they missed.

For example their salad with shaved parmesan and black truffles didn’t hold up to the rest. I’m guessing because the truffles weren’t real. Blasphemy to say, but they were virtually flavorless next to the crudité, which makes zero sense. And the other concoction getting trickier still, would be the odd variation on a caprese salad, made with tomatoes, goat cheese, hollandaise and mint. It wasn’t awful, but after having seen the tomato as a solo act, this seemed like a crime to drown it with such an odd combination of flavors.

On the simpler side of things I did also find a miss, ruined with a very simple error. The langoustines were very (and sadly) overcooked. But misses aside, Le Club 55 is a triumph, as if anybody needed another reason to love the beach.

Mint Premium Foods

19 Main St. Tarrytown, NY 10591 • (914) 703-6511

IMG_4954

I’ve always loved this place ever since it was on the other side of the street and just a specialty shop, so when I heard they picked up sticks and crossed the street to open a restaurant I was all “yoinks!”

And when I saw what they had done with the place, “ooo la la!” Not in a fancy shmancy way though. More like an authentic quaint shop you might expect to find in Provence.

Now I know some people complain about the price/portion size ratio but I have to say, the Truffle Eggs Benny was anything but small. Pricey, perhaps. But let’s be fair, it’s covered in lox and caviar. If you want to stay under 10 bucks go grab an Egg McMuffin. So where was I? Oh yes, the salmon and the caviar over potatoes and English muffin with the headliners, of course, poached eggs and Hollandaise. It sounded like the stuff foodgasms are made of, and I typically loves me the caviar and eggs thing, but for some reason this didn’t meet expectations. Somehow the truffles brought out too much of the fishiness and saltiness of the caviar. The English muffins, which looked like Thomas’, were overpowered- should’ve used a more substantial, homemade muffin or bread. The potatoes needed more seasoning, because they disappeared into the sauce. And the H-sauce could’ve stood for some more kick to cut through. But this is all getting very nitpicky. It’s still good, it just doesn’t hold up to the raves. There is similar version at Joseph Leonard using crème fraiche as opposed to H-sauce and it blows this away. Or as they say in France… coups il loin. I have zero idea if that’s an accurate translation or not. But if not, blame Google.

So, when all is said and done, I still feel compelled to give Mint 3 knives, regardless of the over-hyped Benny, because truly love the market side of things. So many great cheeses and cured meats, and olives and artisanal jarred goodies that it’s enough to carry them over line of three-dom.

3 teeth

 

Joseph Leonard

170 Waverly Pl. New York, NY 10014(646) 429-8383josephleonard.com

ff81372a86bedbd67a71f1789f961364

Okay Yelpers, I’m done. Never again shall I listen to you. You have steered me wrong too many times and I think I need to start going my own way from here on. No more reading your recommendations. I mean, the croissant egg sandwich? Really? So much raving and for what? It’s as if everyone missed the 80’s when these things first hit the scene… at Burger King! And I’m sorry to rain on the parade, but it ain’t like this one is anything special. I’ve had FAR superior egg sammies at droves of other places. So please, please PLEASE don’t waste your order listening to the conformist cattle blabber on about this severely mediocre dish.

Instead, I implore you to GET THE EGGS BENNY!!! It is incredible! In my top three of all time. Just perfection. Made with lox and a scallion creme fraiche, which is brilliant for those who don’t like hollandaise (my wife).

As for decor, the place is quaint and charming. But my other major gripe is with the service. First, when the waitress brought my fresh squeezed juice, she ruined it by filling the tiny glass with ice, a pet peeve of mine, but that’s not the gripe. Upon asking her to bring me juice with no ice instead, she simply removed the ice from that glass, giving me back a 3/4 full SMALL glass of juice. As if for $4 a glass they can’t afford to top off a full 6oz squirt of OJ? Cheap bastards!

But that’s still not why I’m docking the knife for service. Upon clearing the table, the waitress actually had the fem-balls to rest the dirty plates on my shoulder as she stacked them on top of it!!! WTF?!?! Who does that?!?

Had I openly bitched about the 3/4 glass of OJ I might have understood it as revenge, but I said nothing. About either. Until now.

Sorry J.L. You’re good, but you’ve got some work to do before you’re great.

3 teeth

The Ultimate Eggs Benny

Eggs_benedict

Of all the meal times, I think breakfast/brunch is probably my favorite. And of all the breakfast options I would have to say that Eggs Benny is probably right at the very tippy top. Sure I eat other breakfast foods more often, but that’s only because I don’t want to die. But if I could, I’d eat Eggs Benny at least 3 or 4 times a week. But enough about me. Let’s get down to brass tax. Here are the best Benny’s I’ve ever had:

Coast – Santa Monica, CA

This is a traditional Eggs Benny. No twists. Just perfectly done. Eggs are always nice and runny. Hollandaise isn’t too overbearing. And the consistency of preparation is remarkable. I mean, I’ve been getting this Eggs Benny for over 20 years and not once have they ever dropped the ball. That’s pretty impressive.

Joseph Leonard – New York, NY

It’s actually a Salmon Benny, but wow is it something special. For starters, they skip the Hollandaise and use a scallion crème fraiche, which is so much lighter, yet every bit as decadent somehow. Even the scone beneath the salmon and egg was a nice surprise, bringing a complexity of texture to the dish, while still letting the smokiness of the salmon shine. Not to mention the perfectly cooked eggs- oh yeah, them.

Boon Fly Café – Napa, CA

While the two above are truly sensational, this last one is perhaps my favorite of the lot. Mainly because I am a heat seeker, so anything with a little kick to it usually wins my heart. And this Benny definitely won every little piece of my heart now baby. The heat I speak of comes from their jalapeno Hollandaise, which is drizzled over the wonderfully poached eggs, which sit atop thick country ham so fresh I could swear I heard pig squeals as I bit into it. And then all of it rests on a homemade country bread foundation. But to truly put its awesomeness into context, it’s been 4 years since I ate there and I still dream about it.