We don't go out to eat that often. Not only is it far less a part of the everyday culture in France than in the States, but when you have as good a cook, and as handsome a one, as Remi in the kitchen, well, it just doesn't make sense. Often, either of us could make what is on offer at the local joints--if not better! But that is not the case for L'Autruche, the Ostrich, which is tucked away on the tiny rue Dulau in the heart of Arles.
Our entrée was right on par for the season and starred gorgeous pink-shelled coco beans topped with fresh crab, tangy agrumes and heavily chopped basil. A perfect dish for a warm afternoon at the end of summer but I also could imagine my blog friend Virginia (she of Glamour Drops fame) whipping this up as an equally suitable dish for a spring lunch in Melbourne.
I always love to read their menu--actually, I'll pass by while out on my walk with Ben just because it usually inspires me one way or the other in my own cooking. Now, I'll admit that dinner is firmly out of our price range--hence going for lunch!--but well worth it for those with the means as the price is reflected by the quality of the ingredients. Wild monkfish, anyone? Good luck trying to get that in Arles, save for the three star Michelin rated L'Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel, the eponymous chef of which has been spotted at L'Autruche on his days off...
Ah, on to the plat principale! The presentation is always a well-conceived jolt to prepare the taste buds and I always respond with typically American enthusiasm, even, to my embarrassment "hooray!" Fabien had arranged for us to have a duo of pan-grilled rouget and salmon accompanied by a medley of grilled zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes on an onion confit. All served with a tomato saffron sirop and, well, bad blogger that I am, I forgot to verify the ingredients of that shocking green swipe across the plate. Blame it on the wine and the fine company. We were all happy as could be, save our host, who felt that the portions were too small and so ordered up another plate for our table to share, gratuitement.
Now, I have read some pretty tough reviews of the restaurant on TripAdvisor and the likes. Complaints of slow service abound. So keep that in mind if you decide to go but for now, it certainly is my favorite here in Arles. Chef Antoine came on board nearly two years ago and is definitely one of the few in this price category to take such risks. Perhaps that is why the restaurant received une fourchette in the Michelin Guide this year. Both Ouria and Fabien have been known to plop down at a table to chat, so that is also something to consider if that is not to your liking. But I prefer friendly to frosty any day of the week, don't you? L'Autruche is a young restaurant, one that I find charming even in its imperfections and I will look forward to watching it grow!