Sometimes the spirit of a place is so strong that its influence sets the mood and tone. Such is the case with La Colombe d’Or, a restaurant which was frequented regularly by artistic greats such as Picasso, Chagall, Modigliani, Matisse, Miro, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Isadora Duncan, Yves Montand, Edith Piaf and the list goes on …
Why did this restaurant attract so many creative geniuses and why does it still serve as a mecca for the rich and famous? I suspect the artistic passions of the original owner, Paul Roux, who regularly accepted paintings in lieu of payment, gave birth to a tradition of artistic joie de vivre that is the hallmark of this captivating restaurant.
But there’s more to the magic of La Colombe d’Or than simply art …. Picture a perfectly preserved Medieval village perched on a hillside … aah yes, another French village perché … simply a heartbeat away from the glorious Mediterranean on the magnifique Cote d’Azur. Just outside the Medieval walls of the village, with beautiful gardens and a commanding view of the valley below, lies a truly unique hotel, La Colombe d Or, which many have called the most romantic hotel in the world. This is the home of and the inspiration for this extraordinary restaurant which has inspired decades of artists and lovers. Over the years, artists have regularly left their mark by painting directly onto the walls or by offering a painting, sculpture or oeuvre d’art. The ambiance speaks of beauty, creativity, charm and romance.
So do the talents of the chef, Hervé Roy, live up to the restaurant’s legend? I don’t recall fresh oysters on the menu but otherwise … a resounding yes!
We began our luncheon with his classic entrée of Les hors d’oeuvres Colombe d’Or with charcuterie and were taken aback by the beauty, quality and quantity of the vast assortment of dishes that arrived. Each had its own special preparation, from grilled and marinated local eggplant and tomatoes to smoked fish, and each was prepared from fresh, local ingredients in traditional Provençal fashion. Freshly cut sausages and a big basket of farm fresh produce, including radishes and fennel, completed the experience. Many might have considered that first course a satisfying lunch in itself, but we had two more courses to come!
Fish was the theme of the main course. Our daughter selected fresh salmon quenelles which were sumptuous in a light béchamel sauce.
Denis feasted on steamed fresh cod with 5 vegetables accompanied by a “simple aoli” sauce, and I enjoyed perfectly grilled fresh Mediterranean sea bream seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon. The freshness and quality of the ingredients needed no extra enhancement to be simply delicious beyond the assistance of a light, refreshing Cote de Provence Rosé.
For dessert we shared a country style French apple tart, prepared using Paul Roux’s mother’s recipe, and a dark chocolate cake. Both were equally satisfying.
A meal with generous portions, solicitous service, superb ingredients, perfection in preparation and charming presentations … in a magical, romantic and, most especially, artistic setting.
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for more Countries of the World as we share our joie de vivre from around the world. Luxury escapes and city breaks to Quebec City, New York, Washington, Buenos Aires. In Europe, places like Paris France, Nice France, Provence and the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), Tuscany and Florence in Italy, Rome, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast. In Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal and so much more!