Gault & Millau’s opinion
At the end of the paved path that winds through a bucolic garden reminiscent of a Trenet song, populated by animal sculptures, we see this golden goat, posted as a lookout over the rooftops. A series of steps and the magic of the place is at work. A large glassed-in room where the view plunges 400 meters down to the Villefranche harbor. In the kitchen, Arnaud Faye begins his seventh year at the château. Far from the glitz and glamour of the Croisette and the Riviera clientele, this skilful and rigorous Auvergnat is charting his course, always with the same menu title « De Roche et d’Eau » (« Of Rock and Water »). This year, mackerel in escabeche is once again in the spotlight, seared with a blowtorch at the end and served with crunchy bottarga fennel. Celery, soft to the touch, is cooked like a lovage risotto and topped with generous slices of melanosporum. Octopus, preserved in olive oil, marries nicely with a declination of cooked and raw beet, scented with the rose de Grasse, the rosa centifolia used in Chanel’s « 5 ». And back to the rabbit so dear to the chef. This time, no cutting up in the dining room. The saddle, wrapped in a thin slice of pancetta, is roasted in marjoram jus, the braised leg stuffed with liver, with a succulent mushroom tombée and spinach ravioli. The team’s new pastry chef, Florent Margaillan, who replaces Julien Dugourd, brings the meal to a close with a jasmine-poached white peach with a peach-ginger condiment, and a refreshing vacherin glacé with verbena and Menton lemon. The ambience is hushed, the service impeccable, and the wine list concocted by the formidable Philippe Magne offers a voyage through the terroirs, including a breathtaking selection of great Bordeaux (saint-julien Château Branaire-Ducru 2012, Château Lafite Rothschild 2004, Château d’Armailhac 2009, Château Palmer 2008, pomerol Château L’Évangile 2001, saint-estèphe Château Calon-Ségur 2014).
Published on 16 novembre 2023