Restaurant Pépite (Bayonne)

© Aurore Harinordoquy

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In a landscape littered with restaurants boasting unfinished walls, Pépite stands out from the crowd in Bayonne with its deliciously yé-yé look, run by Aurore Harinordoquy (front-of-house, self-taught) and Maxime Jalmon (the chef, ex-Korail). They opened up shop in the former Fumoir & Co after giving it a sixties makeover, to better highlight their unfussy, well-sourced, cheeky eats and low-intervention wines. For lunch, the day we went: an electrifying salad combining miniature asparagus from the Landes department, mizuna, shallots, capers, pickled red onions, mustard seeds and focaccia croutons; oven-baked trout from Iraty, cooked to perfection and stuffed with spinach and beurre blanc, served with a parsley and garlic jus, chervil and almonds; before the minimalist dessert, a lovely baked apple topped with crispy kadaif, with a light cream sauce and salted caramel. // Gérard Roubeix  

FEELING THIRSTY? Wines chosen meticulously from the Biarritz wine shop Retour Verre le Futur: Mogul, a Rhone red from Le Mas Théo (€5.50 a glass), Gravelle, a Loire Chenin from Le Domaine du Haut Planty (€22 a bottle), Xut, an Irouléguy white from Etxondoa (€42)… Unless you’d rather opt for a La Superbe beer (€3 for half-pint) or a Kupela cider (€4.50 for 330 ml). 
PRICE: Plates €4-14. 

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