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

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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

 

Chateau de la Chevre D’or

6 Rue du Barri, 06260 Eze, France • +33 4 92 10 66 66 • chevredor.com
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This is easily amongst my top five restaurants of all time. The setting is incomparable. The food is wonderful. And the experience is unforgettable, unlike anything before it, or since.

It starts with a winding drive up the side of a mountain, overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea. And with each and every switchback, you rise higher and higher until you ultimately arrive upon the idyllic medieval castle town of Eze, perched at the summit.

Taking up a sizable portion of this castle is a hotel and restaurant by the name of La Chevre D’or (The Golden Goat), and while a goat might not sound like the most luxurious of beasts to enshrine in 24 karat bling, you’ll feel like you were dipped in gold the moment you enter, that’s how special the setting makes you feel. Like royalty, you sit atop an expansive terrace taking in the sun and view almost as if it they were the realm over which you rule.

Yet, with such posh stature, they manage to show vital restraint, because while the service could easily be snooty, that would only serve to break the illusion. After all, what servant would ever turn their nose up at a king or queen? Thus the waiters are impeccable.

And speaking of flawless, the meal is like something out of a storybook. I’m not really sure what that even means now that I’ve just written it, but let’s just assume it means really, really good. For example a lobster tail served over a bed of turquoise salt. Turbot presented almost like the sails of a ship. And every bite as magical as if Merlin himself were in the kitchen.

If you are ever within a 90 minute drive of here, be sure to make a reservation. It’s worth every last kilometer. And if you can’t get a table, at least stop by for tea or cocktail. You get the same gorgeous view and impeccable service, along with some of the best snacks your mouth could ever dream of.

5 teeth

The Ultimate Setting

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While you can’t eat necessarily eat your surroundings, with the exception of that room in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a true foodie must admit that it can be quite integral to a dining experience. So, this Ultimate is an ode to the clothes that make the man.

Chevre d’or – Eze, France

Set atop the picturesque castle town of Eze in Provence, this restaurant makes you feel as though you are attending a royal feast, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea from your medieval perch. Think Game of Thrones meets Michelin Stars.

Surrounded by such absolutely stunning views, it’s hard to imagine that anything else could possibly compete, until the food arrives, with presentations that are equally mesmerizing in their own right.

Even the parking lot is jaw-dropping, loaded with Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and Aston Martins.

 

Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, NY

It’s tough to compete with the South of France, but a 1000 acre Rockerfeller farm estate isn’t exactly something to sneeze at. And by farm I mean the poster child for farm to table. Quite literally the ingredients come from the farm just outside your spectacular dining room window.

But what makes the dining room so extraordinary isn’t just the view of the farm. It’s the beautiful marriage of old and new. On the outside, the stone barn building feels like it did centuries ago, having been lovingly preserved all of these years just for foodie-kind. But on the inside, oh on the inside it’s even more beautiful if that’s even possible. A minimalist, modern twist on farmhouse décor, with gracefully bowing iron beams that arch their backs over you head. Soothing earth tones and wood meet soft white walls adorned with art. And then come the platings. A masterful clinic on presentation like you’ve never seen. Custom made trellis arches show off their bountiful garden. Planks of wood boast an arsenal of spears, each skewering a different treat. I could go on and on and on, so it’s probably just a good idea for you to just make a reservation at this point.