Chardon (Arles)

© Maeve Schauerman

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The secret to eternal youth? Arles’ relentless sunshine, a patio with a mascaron fountain, and the creative fervor of Julia Mitton, Laura Vidal and Harry Cummins, the trio who also run La Mercerie, Livingston and Pétrin Couchette in Marseille… And they’ve done such a good job at maintaining that youth that as the years have gone by, the concept behind Chardon (hosting chefs in residency who are just getting started or already in their prime) hasn’t aged a bit. The last time we went, after Lina Caschetto, Tamir Nahmias, Valentin Raffali, Zuri Camille de Souza, Daniel Morgan and Numa Muller completed their residencies (to name just a few), it was time for the New York chef Preston Miller (ex-Gallifet in Aix) to take over the kitchens and celebrate springtime with a stunning lunch menu: zucchini blossom stuffed with silky pink dentex brandade, brushed with a flamboyant saffron glaze; brilliant Mediterranean amberjack prepared tataki-style, and grazed on the BBQ before being glazed with an incredible reduction made from the same fish, with green tomato and Noa cucumber salsa, plus nasturtiums and ga(lactic) raw Bresse cream; before a dessert stitched together by Lisa L’hostis (who used to work at La Mercerie), combining gariguette strawberries prepared as both sorbet and a sauce, both intensely flavorful, plus crisp yet tender meringue, silky dulce de leche and fresh mint. A true work of art! // Marcellin Caillou

FEELING THIRSTY? : A large selection of living wines chosen by Laura Vidal: Vendanges Tardives 2009, an Alsatian pinot gris by Vincent Fleith (€11 a glass), Gamayoptère, a Burgundy gamay rosé from Antoine Lienhardt (€42 a bottle), Les Écrins 2016, an oxydative savagnin from the Domaine de la Borde (€63)… And to go with all that, a lovely selection of soft drinks, like the Jura-made juices by Nos Jardins Imparfaits (raspberry-tarragon, €6 for 330 ml) or the Arles-made ones from Le Mas Daussan (apple juice, €5 for 250 ml).
PRICE: : Tasting menus €35 (lunch) and €45 (4 courses).

Hopopup! Because sometimes wiping the slate clean is the best way to fill it back up again, this restaurant hosts a chefs-in-residency program. So it’s possible that when you visit, a new talent might have taken over the kitchen!

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