Auberge La Fenière
After spending 20 years in the kitchens of this old equestrian estate that was reconverted into a classy hotel, Reine Sammut decided to (slowly) pass the torch to her younger sister Nadia, a gluten-free warrior who is supported in her fight by Ernest Hung Do (ex-Simple Sushi in Marseille, winner of Le Guide Fooding’s Best Sushi of 2014 award). Seated under the arched ceilings of the dining room that’s decorated with round tables, white tablecloths and Japanese-inspired suspension lamps, it goes without saying that we eagerly await the seven-course tasting menu (€90). After a long succession of wheat-free bread, amuse-bouches and small, somewhat sleepy, appetizers (miniature tartlets with herb purée; pizza dough made with fermented chickpeas and topped with onion purée, tomato confit and grilled eggplant), we were delighted to see our like-o-meters suddenly skyrocket! At the summit: a nice red mullet fillet that was barely cooked on the skin side and turned into sashimi, sprinkled with exquisite bottarga from the Canal de Martigues and a divine almond-shiso condiment; hilarious fish and tapioca couscous with chickpeas, carrots, peppers, zucchini, mullet from the Sète fish market and a spellbinding saffron broth; a divine Taureau de Camargue steak, tenderized with chickpea miso, plus some nice fermented “mélet” anchovies; before a vrai-faux millefeuille with rosemary cream, apricots and olive oil. To drink, the wine collection is quite open-minded: a white Luberon from the Domaine de Maslauris (€10 a glass), La Font de Papier from Vacqueyras (€18), a biodynamic Côtes-du-Rhône red from Gramenon (€60 a bottle) and a Vaucluse white from Jérôme Bressy (€120), or even a legendary Crozes-Hermitage from Chave (€330). Menus €55, €90 and €140. // A.S.