Restaurant Paute (Pau)

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Foodie friends Maxime Laplace and Nicolas Moreau spent a lot of time cooking together (Les Crayères in Reims, La Mère Brazier in Lyon, Maison Boulud in Montreal) before opening up a spot of their own in Pau. What’s at play? A bistro run by just the two of them, where they send out unfussy, cheeky market dishes put together with an artistic touch, a stone’s throw from the old Hédas washhouse, accessible via a narrow staircase. The day we went for lunch, seated in the dining room with stone walls, brick and limewashed walls, where Louise Arruat watches over everything: an organic oeuf parfait camouflaged under a siphoned chamomile-infused cream, over thinly sliced pickled potato, fresh herbs (tarragon, chives, parsley) and golden croutons; tender veal belly from the Larrieu farm, slow-roasted and then flash-seared, tucked into a Madeira-infused cream and sprinkled with hazelnuts, plus mashed potatoes and garlic confit; before the deliciously simple finale, a delightful caramelized vanilla rice pudding with crumble topping and brown butter ice cream. // Gérard Roubeix 

FEELING THIRSTY? A sweet selection of organic and natural wines: Cyprès de toi, a Languedoc red from the Domaine Fond Cyprès (€7 a glass), a sparkling Loire wine from the Château de Bois-Brinçon (€37 a bottle), Monplaisir, a Jura white from the Domaine de Souch (€44)… 
PRICE: Set lunch menus €18-24, dinner menus €39 (3 courses), €52 (5 courses) and €64 (7 courses). 

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