While I usually chronicle my culinary journeys in Manhattan, this post will be about another fascinating city in the world: Saint-Tropez, France. I was lucky enough to spend a week there with my family where we shamelessly indulged in the finer things in life (aka. foie gras, truffles, and cheese) and had the opportunity to dine at some of the finest restaurants in the south of France. From Saint Tropez's most renowned 3 Michelin star restaurant, La Vague D'Or, to an unnamed creperie in a charming alleyway, here is a restaurant review roundup of my very fattening vacation.
This hip, fast paced restaurant is right on the port with outdoor seats facing the street (great for people watching if you don't mind the frequent smoker sitting a table away) and a dark, edgy interior. Around dinner time, Le Quai becomes the life of the Saint-Tropez party with loud live music, table side bottles of champagne, and dim red and purple lights brightening up the room. Unfortunately, the majority of customers are tourists who come to eat and people watch in front of the colossal yachts docked in the port. The good news is that after spring time, other fun bars and clubs open which helps the tourists disperse. Anyway, when it came to the menu, the food was pretty eclectic ranging from sashimi to truffle spaghetti to lamb chops. Our meal was good but it wasn't groundbreaking.
La Vague d'Or
With a 3 Michelin star rating, La Vague d'Or is the most renowned restaurant in the south of France. Located in the lobby of the beautiful oasis of a hotel, La Résidence de la Pinède, it is the perfect restaurant for an elegant family dinner or a very very extravagant date. Through the glass doors is bright lighting, white tables, elegant wooden chairs, and dedicated servers who rush to your every need (they even walk you to the bathroom). The menu is presented as a "gastronomic adventure" crafted by Chef Arnaud Donckele, a man who paints a plate with food as Van Gogh would color a canvas. Donckele is a culinary scientist and artist who crafts unique dishes with a variety of eclectic ingredients and presents them in a beautiful and delicate manner (each dish was literally brought out to the table on white stones). My family and I went for the over indulgent eight course meal aka the "Epicurean Adventure" which ended up being an adventurous three hours of ingesting unique food combinations and abusing the wine list...and my dad's wallet.
Casa Cri / la Maison Des Jumeaux
Casa Cri is a quaint “Italien” restaurant in one of Saint-Tropez’s off the map alleyways that may seem a bit dangerous past dark. Luckily, the sun doesn’t fully set until around 9:30 p.m. and the alley isn’t dangerous (Americans just tend to be paranoid about alleyways so I thought I would throw that out there). The restaurant itself has outdoor seating in a courtyard around back while the inside is dimly lit, white, and clean with a glass roof over head. Considering this is a quaint Italian restaurant in France, we were not expecting a great selection of Italian wines. However, the wine list proved us wrong and we ended up choosing from a good amount of “vin Italiani.” When it came to the dining menu, the dishes were textbook Italian with selections such as parmesan eggplant, tagliatelle Bolognese, and scallops with the classic French addition of truffles.
Creperie (unnamed, between rue d'Eglise and rue Sibille)
This creperie was cute, quaint, and classic. Compared to all the touristy creperies on the port, this one was the most authentic. The service was great and the crepes were light, crispy, and delicious.
Les Trois Saisons at the Chateau de la Messardiere
When it comes to the beach, La Résidence de la Pinède is the ideal place to stay. But when it comes to enjoying the beautiful French landscape, Le Chateau de la Messardiere is the best choice. Not even a 15 minute drive from the city, this hotel is located in the middle of the luxurious French country side with hills, mountains, trees, and a vineyard all in view. Not to mention, le Chateau de la Messardiere has a top of the line restaurant: Les Trois Saisons. Out of every restaurant, this was my favorite. The dishes were original (but not off the wall like some from La Vague d'Or) and the waiters and waitresses were extremely friendly. The menus ranged from a 7 course tasting menu, a lighter 4 course "discovery menu," or à la carte. My mother and I chose the discovery menu (with the exception of replacing the lobster with foie gras) while my brother and father opted to go for the 7 course tasting menu.
The Discovery Menu
Rivea at the Byblos Hotel
Rivea is a well known restaurant by Alain Ducasse at the Byblos Hotel. Considering this highly known restaurant with a renowned chef and located in one of the most popular Saint-Tropez hotels, I was expecting a pretty good dining experience. However, the food was just average, maybe even a bit below. The menu was pretty basic with options such as flat breads, pastas, and meats and the ambiance just screamed "resort restaurant where Americans come to spend money."
So I ate all of this food.....
and now here I am back in New York fighting the battle against eating healthy or making my regular 3 a.m. pizza runs. Either way, Saint-Tropez was definitely a fun culinary adventure, not to mention it is one of the most beautiful locations on the Mediterranean. Each restaurant (big or small) had its own vibe and offered completely different dining experiences. This was a once in a lifetime binge-eating extravaganza that I will never forget.