When I think fancy, I think French, so for our first anniversary we headed over to Le Vallauris for a night of “bonne chance”. In a matter of steps, we went from foyer to some sort of restaurant terrarium, an outside kingdom surrounded by glass walls, dipping at various angles to make way for limbs sprouting off trees in the dining room. Oval globes of white lights hung like decorative beehives, and I was struck with an air of transcendence, as if we’d fallen down the rabbit hole, but somehow managed to keep our open-air view.
Don’t bring me down, Bruce: Our sommelier/waiter, Bruce, was engaging, kooky and knowledgeable – enough to make a lasting impression, along with the suave, silver-haired owner who fluttered over in his white suit to say, “Bon soir” and wish us a happy anniversary...a personal touch that touched me.
House Specialty: What’s the special here? Everything! A dry/erase board was brought to the table and listed the evening’s menu in marker – because when you’re working with fresh and seasonal ingredients, nothing’s permanent*, except for one thing…great food.
Foie gras ravioli were propped like pillows of decadence and fluffed further by a velvety, parmesan sauce. The swirl of balsamic reduction prettied up the plate, but I wished there was more because its sweet, tartness worked flawlessly with the creaminess of parmesan and foie gras.
Crunchy scallops with apple were wrapped in crispy, potato shoestrings, but still remained juicy on the inside with the perfect amount of acid from the apple.
Veal loin with chestnut pancakes and porcini, congac sauce – Of course I was drawn in with the promise of savory pancakes, but they were dry and even a tad burnt. If they had come off the flame a few minutes earlier, I believe they would have been sinful (instead of singe-ful)! But the veal made up for it with fork tender medallions and the forest-y foraging of brandy flavored mushrooms.
Lamb chops with vegetable ragout made my husband realize for the first time that he didn’t need a starch. Well, not when the meat is this high quality and the vegetables have caramelized in their sugars all day.
We skipped dessert, only because we were about to burst, but I have no doubt their ending would be the end all. This is the place to impress for special occasions, but be aware that Le Vallauris also leaves quite the impression on your wallet.
Overall experience: the atmosphere – surreal; the menu – exceptional; the service – impeccable; and the memory - unforgettable...we'll be back next year.
*they do offer a seasonal prix-fixe that stays the same.