Le Rocher de la Vierge
Best dive of 2018
After moving from Jean-Jaurès to Saint-Aubin, Mikaël Lecumberry’s Le Rocher de la Vierge (Le Guide Fooding’s Best Dive of 2018) hasn’t lost any of its joyful virginity. Sure, the dining room is now prolonged by a terrace (30 seats in the summer, a dozen in the winter), and the new sommelier, Romano (who we’ve seen before at Le Verre Volé in Paris), welcomes diners with a little more enthusiasm than his predecessor, but the spirit of the place and the cuisine haven’t changed a bit. The Basque chef proved just so with his mischievously impeccable local standards on the €17 lunch set menu that day: a smart roasting dish of palourde clams, mussels and cockles – or pork trotters oven roasted and then pan-fried with calamari and piment d’Espelette, sprinkled with tarragon; little tunny fillet flash-cooked and served with eggplant and onion confit – or an “osseline” skirt steak served rare, with a Sarawak peppercorn sauce and gigantic fries sprinkled with sea salt from Salies-de-Béarn; before a mouthwatering amandine tart with pears and a deliciously tangy whipped cream. To help all these good things slide down easy: a Côtes-du-Rhône from the Petit Oratoire (€5 a glass), a Loire white from Le Clos du Tue-Boeuf (€25 a bottle), Basajaun cider from the Domaine Bordatto (€18). Set menus €15-17 (lunch), dishes €6-10 (dinner). // H.G.