When we first experienced the food of a previous chef at restaurant "L'Olivier" at La Bastide de St. Tropez in 1999, we were captivated. But today, Spring of 2011, we are more than captivated, we are enchanted. Of course, you would have to share our love of really well prepared foods that respect the flavors of the best of ingredients and then a chef who does not mess them all up trying to be too clever. Chef Kévin Altier chooses the best of ingredients, at their peak of flavor, and then allows them to dominate and steers them into marriages with other complementary flavors so that the dish comes together seamlessly.
He allows vegetables to be whole on a plate, each taste leading to the next with his soft nudge. He brings out the essence of each species of fish, fowl or meat. The desserts are refreshing and can be light or rich as appeals to the diner's desires.
In short, he is our choice in quintessential chef, a man who allows food to still be food no matter how beautifully presented or artistically orchestrated so that it blossoms in the mouth and you end the meal feeling well fed. Of course it does not hurt that the environment in which it is consumed is one of the loveliest around set under ancient olive trees left over from when the property was a vineyard on the edge of St. Tropez.
The profesionalism is enhanced by the Matitre d'hotel who is recetly of Ousteau de Baumniere.
Mediterranean cuisine is a favorite of ours. It also helps intellectually that it is simultaneously one that is recommended to promote a healthy life style. Since this was a warm spring evening, dinner was served out under the ancient olive trees. The Amuse Bouche was a family of cockles on a round of toast. For Starters, we both had the lovely white asparagus with a balsamic vinaigrette with thin slices of parmesan on top. Our host had the Lobster raviolis in a crab stock while we went for the roasted Lamb of Provence served with a delicate Ratatouille. Linda chose the Strawberry Tartlette with an ice cream of Fromage Blank (incorrectly translated on the menu as "cottage cheese" which it is not.) See recipe. While Peter, a chocoholic from way back, sampled the warm chocolate cakelette served with vanilla ice cream. All delectable.
We could have started with the Spring vegetable stew or the duck Foie Gras in a Muscat-de-Beaumes de Venise. There was Dos de cabillaud, Lotte Rotie, Filet de Boeuf pan fried or their famous whole Seabass cooked in a salt crust. As well as our two desserts, there was also a Tiramisu and a Baba au Marc de Provence.
Chef Altier is most at home in his kitchen, shunning the lime light, which makes a pleasant change in this day and age of the celebrety chef. He works quietly with his small kitchen staff and superb young pastry chef in a small but immaculate kitchen. He worked under the previous chef and has taken his cue from him. His is a background of learning in this same region, discovering the best sources for the finest ingredients in the process. An insider's insider so to speak. His immersion on the local scene helps him bring out the best of the local flavors and take advantage of the market basket of fruits and vegetables as well as the bounty of the sea.
This is a place to eat whether you are staying at the hotel, staying somewhere else in St. Tropez or just passing through. While the shuttle to and from town is for hotel guests only at the moment, they are thinking about making it available for dinner guests as well, so you could leave your car at your hotel and not worry about enjoying your favorite wines or even finding the place in the dark.
La Bastide de Saint Tropez
Route des Carles
tel:011-33-(0)4.94 55 82 55
fax:011-33-(0)4.94 97 21 71
Web Page: www.bastidesaint-tropez.com