Restaurant Aperta (La Rochelle)

© Olivia Duff

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Open up! After exiling themselves to the Bordeaux area, friends Olivia Duff (a former graphic designer) and Anne Drillaud (who used to work at Le Grand Hôtel) have returned to their hometown of La Rochelle to unveil Aperta, a wooden-cemented-tiled bistro with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. In the kitchen you’ll find chef François Durand, who also used to work at Le Grand Hôtel in Bordaeux, brilliantly throwing together a selection of small plates. The night we went, seated on the terrace with views of the covered market, we devoured all of the following: incredible hummus with roasted corn and cilantro, scooped up with some good pita bread; the boss’s Padrón peppers, grilled on the plancha before being painted with maple syrup and garlic oil; tender baby back ribs slow-cooked for 12 hours, served with homemade ketchup for dipping; and to round out the meal, a summery cheesecake made with honey- and lemon-infused cream cheese, apricots from the garden, tarragon shoots, crushed pistachios and a crispy angel hair topping – a real flavor bomb of a dessert! // Louise Delange

FEELING THIRSTY? Bottles from here and elsewhere, featuring conventional, organic and natural options: an Aude red blend from Le Clos des Jarres (€6 a glass), a Moroccan Syrah produced by Alain Graillot (€42 a bottle), an Alsatian white by Léon Boesch (€32)… 
PRICE: Plates €7-14. 

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