Le Chai

Restaurant Le Chai (Ramatuelle)

© Caroline Sans

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Where can you grab a drink, people watch (and be watched) a mere stone’s throw from Saint-Trop’? At the Fondugues-Pradugues natural wine estate, whose restaurant goes down easy! In addition to L’Éphémère, their festive guinguette, winemakers Stephen Roberts and Laurent Nouvion have been inviting chefs to roast away to their hearts’ content for two seasons now, surrounded by rows of Grenache vines. This summer, Valentine Costuna (ex-Astrid y Gastón in Lima) is taking over from Alexandre Marchon, to the delight of the elite local crowd blushing with pleasure on the big Riviera-esque terrace, with gasp-inducing views of the pines and cypresses. Despite the heat wave, the Australian-Fijian native was handing out lessons in fine dining the night we went: an incredible chicken and pistachio terrine; impressive dry-aged tuna tartare tickled by a smoked eggplant vinaigrette, all wrapped up in daikon radish ribbons; intensely flavorful carabineros (scarlet red prawns) intensified by fermented chilies; cubes of pastis jelly and beetroot from Le Jardin de la Piboule, lounging over a diabolically delicious smoked cream; before a libidinous chocolate cream topped with passion fruit coulis. Other equally mouthwatering options include the shared cuts of meat and fish: a half-turbot poached in cumin-spiced butter, or dry-aged prime rib with green onions roasted in beef drippings and jus de volaille. // Gwen Jacquère

FEELING THIRSTY? : For once, we like the owners’ wines… Eau de Source, a relaxing rosé (€33 a bottle), Rouge d’été, a translucent Cinsault (€34) or Equinox, a complex Grenache (€55), all produced on the estate.
PRICE: : Shared plates €16-36, whole cuts of meat or fish €50-130, desserts €12.

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