Sunday, December 17, 2017

Le Bistrot du Paradou, a Most Enjoyable Destination in the Alpilles

One Friday a few months back, we had a date for a rendezvous with cousins Jean-Marc and Christine for dinner. It was my responsibility to choose a restaurant somewhere between Montpellier and Sablet. After making some calls, I landed on Le Bistrot du Paradou. I was informed they had one table left but apologetically said it was out of the main dining room near the kitchen.

Le Bistrot du Paradou Kitchen

It was 75 km to the small village in the Alpilles Mountains called Paradou where the Bistrot is located. The last stretch of road took us past spots that offered spectacular views of Les Baux de Provence bathed in lights and the entrance to the Carrières de Lumières that I told you about here.

Le Bistrot du Paradou Dining Room

The restaurant is located in a traditional blue-shuttered house, just off the road, shaded by ancient plane trees. The terrace looks like a pleasant place to enjoy an aperitif or coffee after a meal, and there is convenient parking next door.

We were led through the dining room with vintage-tiled floors, stone walls, and timbered ceilings, to our table. When I said we would be happy to take the last table, I pictured a small raised table in an out of the way spot not usually offered to guests. Instead, we were led into the private room shown below with a large wood table set for 4. IMO, it was the perfect place for someone who loves to cook.

Our Table near Le Bistrot du Paradou Kitchen

There is only a single four-course prix fixe menu served at each meal. Tuesday, for example, might feature roasted farm-raised guinea hen, and Friday lunch is aioli, the traditional Provençal feast of steamed vegetables, salt cod, and local snails accompanied by the pungent garlic mayonnaise for which it is named. The price includes unlimited bottles of Côtes du Rhône wine—red, white, or rosé from Mont Redon.

House Red Wine

Our meal began with Soupe au Pistou, the Provence equivalent of minestrone, a seasonal vegetable soup — enriched with a simplified basil pesto (no pine nuts) brought to the table in a large earthenware dish, from which we served ourselves several times.

Tureen of Soupe au Pistou

Shortly after we were seated, our server stopped by to wish us "bienvenue" (welcome) and tell us about the menu for the evening. He said the Bistrot was offering two starters, the previously mentioned Soupe au Pistou and Escargots a la Bourguignonne (Snails in Garlic–Herb Butter). As you can see below, cousin Jean-Marc is ready to tuck into the tasty morsels.

Escargots a la Bourguignonne

The Soupe au Pistou was delicious, perfectly seasoned and we happily helped ourselves to second and third helpings including Jean-Marc who couldn't resist the aromas from the soupe.

Bowl of Pistou Soup

The main course that evening was Rack of Lamb with potato puree and ratatouille. When I called earlier in the day for reservation, I asked about a fish or vegetarian alternative for Shirley who doesn't eat red meat. They were happy to oblige and brought Shirley a generous portion of fresh cod served with the same accompaniments as our lamb. Since we could observe the goings on in the kitchen, we saw several plates of spit roasted Bresse chicken being sent out to the dining room.

Rack of Lamb with Potato Puree and Ratatouille

Although we were all quite full by now, we couldn't resist the temptation of the platter of cheese left on our table and we sampled the various ripe hard and soft cheeses shown below.

Cheese Board

A chalkboard with the dessert menu was brought to the table. Desserts included apple tart, ice creams and a few French classics including baba au rhum, crème caramel and the chocolate mousse I chose which was excellent.

As service wound down, we chatted with the all female kitchen team. They told us about the history of the Bistrot, the opening schedule (depends upon the time of year) and the various menu items offered on a seasonal basis.

Chocolate Mousse

I loved the food and ambiance at Le Bistrot du Paradou. They excel at simple food, done really well. It costs €51+ (depending upon lunch or dinner) and includes starter, main course, cheese, choice of desserts, wine and coffee. I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is to reserve in advance for a meal at this very popular bistrot.

Le Bistrot du Paradou
57 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux
13520 Paradou, France
Tel: +33490543270
No website