Les Vieilles Canailles
A former member of the elite Ducasse brigades in Monaco, the thirty-something Pierre Hochat now takes it easy in the old center of Aix-en-Provence, in a tiny and atmospheric bistro – zinc tables, Thonet chairs, industrial light fixtures, shelves full of bottles, etc. In the dining room, a ZZ Top-esque old-timer recites the wines of the moment (a Luberon from the Domaine de La Citadelle, a Ventoux Clos de T… starting at €6 a glass) and names the small producers: “Guy the fisherman who supplies us with rock octopus at the Vieux-Port in Marseille,” “Mickaël who raises goats in Banon,” etc. And that’s not just for show! The day we went for lunch, the impressive €23 set menu simply proved it: a fresh octopus and tomato confit salad – or some unstoppable bone marrow – for the appetizer; braised lamb saddle with zucchini caviar and coco beans with lemon confit – or Gers duck served raw and cooked with foie gras, for the main; and a tonic dessert combining lemon cream, strawberries and basil syrup – or a freshly baked Paris-Brest. And what is there to drink with all that? Wines d’auteur, of course, tested and approved by Pierrot: a Beaujolais from Lapalu (€29 a bottle), a Terrasses-du-Larzac red from the Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette (€35) or a Côte-Rôtie Village from Stéphane Ogier (€75), etc. Set menus €19-23 (lunch), à la carte €33-47 (dinner). // J.G.