Saturday, August 18, 2012

La Mirande Restaurant, Avignon

I had come to Avignon to shop and have lunch at La Mirande restaurant at the suggestion of blogger friend and cooking instructor extraordinaire Barbara at Cuisine de Provence. I found the restaurant easily at the 5 star hotel of the same name at the foot of the Palais des Papes in the heart of historic Avignon.

The hotel is named after the room in the Palais des Papes, La Mirande, where the Pope’s representatives held receptions for the city’s notables and visiting high-ranking officials.

The walls of the hotel hold years of history. Originally a cardinal’s palace in the 14th century, the ruins of La Mirande were restored during the 17th century to create the Hôtel de Vervins with its baroque façade by architect Pierre Mignard, later becoming the Hôtel Pamard between the late 18th and 20th centuries.

The Stein family opened La Mirande as a hotel-restaurant in 1990 after restoring the property to recreate the atmosphere of an 18th century aristocratic residence, where period tapestries and chandeliers harmoniously co-exist with tufted armchairs and master paintings.

It was a beautiful day, warm, so I was seated on the terrace under a canopy overlooking a garden courtyard.

The chef of La Mirande is François Secrétin who trained at the Feux des Iles in Britanny after which he worked in several Michelin starred restaurant such as l’Auberge de l’Atre (Burgundy) and l’Esplanade (Périgord).

Shortly after the menu was placed on the table, the chef sent out a plate with black olive tapenade on toast, salmon, and a small bowl of picholine olives for an Amuse Bouche to get my taste buds warmed up for the meal.

The menu changes daily according to the season and the whims of the chef. The restaurant offers several menus ranging in price from 35 Euros to 105 Euros for a five course Menu Decouverte. I decided on the four course Menu du Marché.

After making my choices and selecting a glass of chilled 2011 Domaine La Millière Côtes du Rhône rosé to accompany my meal, a second Amuse Bouche of roasted red pepper soup was brought out. Based on the two Amuse Bouches, I knew I was in for a treat.

The first course on the Menu du Marché was Pressé de boeuf de Charolles confit et comté aux aromates, dried beef from Charolles pressed with comté cheese served with ceps from Mont Ventoux.

For the fish course, the Menu du Marché offering was Marbré de dorade sauvage, sauce légère aux coquillages, wild dorade with black rice from Canada with a shellfish sauce.

For the meat course, it was Canon de volaille fermière rôtie au sautoir, jus et sucs de viande, rolled stuffed chicken breast with potato pancake, haricots verts and finished with reduced meat juices.

The Menu du Marché dessert was Macaron inversé a la framboise et crémeux au citron, raspberry macaroon with lemon cream topped with raspberries served with raspberry sorbet. This was a wonderful refreshing finish to an absolutely fabulous lunch.

As there were guests only at a couple of tables that Monday, I got to chat quite a bit with the friendly server. I had told him I was co-owner of a French bistro in Northern California and after dessert, he asked me if I would like to go meet the chef.

I complimented the chef on his food and I told him I was intrigued by how he prepared the wild dorade. He proceeded to show me how he did the rolled fillets. Who knows, maybe someday a similar dish will appear on the menu at our Bistro Des Copains.

He said that if I was not in a hurry I should go down to the basement and see the old 19th century kitchen which I was very happy to do.

Several nights a week, one of the chefs prepares a meal on the original wood burning stove in the old kitchen and serves it at the big chef's table for up to 14 people.

Le Marmiton cooking school at La Mirande also take place in the old kitchen. Classes are held one week per month and are a practical ‘hands-on’ experience. The class is limited to 12 participants who work around the wood-block table. The kitchen’s wood stove is fired up three hours before the class begins.

Thank you Barbara for the great suggestion. The meal and service were outstanding. I will be back, hopefully next time with Shirley so she can enjoy it too.

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt. Have a great day, chat soon!


  1. My pleasure, Michel - I especially love the historic kitchen of La Mirande and if you are around at Christmas time make sure you don't miss their beautiful Christmas market - the decorations are something else!

  2. I always really appreciate your restaurant recommendations Michel, and can't wait to try La Mirande! This is so helpful for trip-planning :)

  3. Barbara - I am really glad I went to eat at La Mirande. Thank you again.

    Sara - The food plating is beautiful and also very delicious. You should plan to try it out when you go to Avignon.

    Tuula - I know from your blog that you love food too. La Mirande is definitely a place for food lovers and I hope you get there.