Deep in the Var backcountry, the Esparron-de-Pallières town hall had the brilliant idea of converting a former schoolhouse into a village bistro. Entrusted to Grégory Brousse (the former chef at Le Mas de Peint in Arles) and his companion Alima Louange, this beautiful building with a Provencal façade and blue shutters does more than provide various public services: a small fine food’s section, a farmer’s market, an annual wine fair… Best of all, there’s the incredible cuisine, served in the old classroom (an ornate bar, banquettes mounted on pallets, school chairs) or on the terrace in the playground. The night we went, the menu featured: a lively roasted eggplant salad, julienned peppers, pickled cauliflower and a goat cheese vinaigrette; a luminous piece of turbot cooked to perfection, with a mousseline stuffing, a slice of roasted spaghetti squash, pesto, a sun-dried tomato condiment and a moussey clam jus; before a graceful olive oil shortbread, intensified with preserved orange and covered in vanilla whipped cream. // A.S.
FEELING THIRSTY? Naturophile wines from the region and a little further away: natural red or white wine from Myrko Tépus in Esparron (€3.50 a glass), a Coteaux-d’Aix red from the Domaine de la Réaltière (€17 a bottle), a Faugères from the Domaine Léon Barral (€33), Cante Gau, a Provencal white from the Domaine La Réalitière (€38).
PRICE: Menus €12-21 (weekday lunch) and €25 (dinner and weekends), kids’ menu €10.