La Chassagnette: Ingenious Simplicity.
D36, 13200 Arles, France / 11 сентября 2017
It is located in a village, though the address is Arles, Provence. Still it’s in a village in the middle of the fields, there’s absolutely nothing around and it’ll take about 15 minutes by car to get to the nearest town. This restaurant is worth visiting Provence, and Arles, and even the whole France.
It was Nika Belotserkovskaya who made this place known among the Russian world. She used to bring her forever drunk students from the culinary school here and write about the chef in her blog and her many books.
The restaurant has its own house, garden, and shop. Chef Armand Arnal, a young and tough country man, runs the business. He’s a smartass genius. He writes books and receives students from culinary schools from all over the world, but he lies in all his recipes and does it on purpose. It’s impossible to recreate anything according to his books, do keep this in mind.
He cooks only seasonal vegetables. His menu resembles an agricultural calendar. All the food comes directly from the garden. There’re no refrigerators. The dishes usually consist of 2-3 ingredients, there’s nothing complicatedly compound there. A piece of cucumber, a piece of tuna, a leaf of herb from the garden create an explosion. I don’t understand how one can achieve such tastes by such simple means.
No need to think. You just come there and they offer you some version of the menu. In fact, it’s all about choosing the main course. It can be fish or meat, the rest is out of options, because in the kitchen (and not in the refrigerator) they have exclusively stuff that was born in the garden today (not yesterday!!! THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!). You’ll get soup, two appetizers, main course and dessert.
I had cold cream-soup with white beans, tuna tartare, a giant baked tomato, then turbot local rice and a dessert. I’ll tell you how it goes. They just take a giant bull’s heart tomato and bake it. Then they throw on top three types of leaves on its top, bring it to your table and cut it into pieces right in front of you. Probably, this tomato is the best of all I’ve had this summer. It’s pointless to describe the dishes or the way they were plated. Absolutely pointless. Turbot simply means fish from the oven: on top of it there are some tomatoes sliced in circles and it’s all baked this way. That’s it.
Arnal has almost no portioned main dishes, as his main dishes are a large piece of meat or an entire fish. The chef himself comes out to serve. As he was serving us, he accidentally dropped fish onto the table instead of the plate and spat out curses. Guests don’t intimidate him – all good, it all about the 3 second rule. Overall, it’s an honest, true and authentic place. Guys, you should visit, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life and will have a good story to tell your friends.