Today I want to share with delay my impressions from my visit to this restaurant tucked in one of the back streets of the colorful town of Arles in South France. “Country Epicure” informs us:
“Jean-Luc Rabanel was the first chef of an organic restaurant to receive a Michelin star. This was atLa Chassagnette in the Camargue, 20 km south of Arles. But he left in the fall of 2005 and in the spring of 2006 opened his own small place in the old part of Arles. He got his star back in March of 2007. ”
Back in 2007, the prestigious french restaurant guide “Gault Millau” awarded Rabanel with the “top chef” award. The key reason was the creativity of the chef and the quality of the produce he used.
Rabanel has two Michelin stars today and is one of the rising stars in the world of organic produce gastronomy. Although it has been 18 months since I visited the restaurant, I decided to publish this review after my visit to Mugaritz in the Basque Country. The reason will be presented at the end of this review.
Down to the business now, the restaurant is more like a brasserie, there is nothing more sophisticated there, and the service is rather minimal. There is only one tasting menu and a matching set of wines. Take it or leave it.
The first dish was Ricotta ravioli with garlic emulsion. I confess that the grated cheese infused cookie that came with the ravioli was the best part of this dish.
Fish on a bed of vegetables. I do not remember what fish that was, my notes just say fish.
Black truffle cappuccino with coco almonds and parmesan cookies
Celery root with almonds, fish roe, sage and ice cream.
Pumpkin in mushroom broth and vegetables.
Ham with artichokes and sweet onion cream, served with polenta crisps.
Fish tails with garlic and ginger.
Lamb with vegetables
After all the dishes I was rather full, and asked the waiter to bring me some cheese instead of desert. The chef obliged and I tasted one of the best cheeses ever!!!!! Ossau Iraty, a sheeps milk cheese from the Pyrenées. For more information go the relevant website.
Overall, the experience of eating at Rabanel is mediocre. It is indicative the the strongest gastronomic memory of the place is the cheese. Not a dish!
Although the dishes have potential, they do not hit the mark. They also do not have a clear focus. By assembling all these materials on the dish you do not necessarily create, you just assemble. This could be the key problem with Rabanel. He has a nice garden, collects nice stuff from it and then dumps them on a plate. This is hardly gastronomic!!! And I do not mean the “haute” gastronomy, I mean the gastronomy of every day life.
May be the chef had a bad evening.