French Restaurant in Crillon le Brave, France: Hostellerie de Crillon le Brave Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Hostellerie de Crillon le Brave
Restaurants and bars
Open: Dinner daily
Price: Moderate

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +31 4 90 65 61 61
Address: Place de L'Eglise
Crillon le Brave, Provence, 84410
Country: France
Food Style: French

Crillon le Brave is a picturesque perched village that lies in the shadow of Mont Ventoux in between Bedoin and Caromb. The hotel has gradually expanded to occupy a significant area of the village.
It is a calm, relaxed, luxury establishment offering five star service to its pampered guests. So it is befitting of this ambience that the main restaurant within the hotel also offers food that will please and pamper the guests.
The dining room is a pleasing space dominated at one end by a huge open fire on which some of the dishes are prepared. On the night we were there succulent lamb was being slowly roasted for one of the main course offerings.
Good bread and Echire butter in its original wrapping was brought to the table. Croutons were also provided with an amuse gueule of tapenade dip and eggplant dip. A Bastide du Claux Cotes du Luberon Blanc was a fitting accompaniment.
For our first course we ordered a rabbit terrine and stuffed zucchini flowers. We were amused that the terrine was hot and the zucchini dish was cold, exactly the opposite of what we had anticipated. Both were cooked with skill and tasted wonderful.
But one of our most lasting food memories of the region was a dish of guinea fowl breast that had been perfectly roasted and served on a bed of finely sliced green beans and stunning white coco beans. This was a great dish with each component adding to the enjoyment of the whole.
We also enjoyed some slices of the lamb from the fire which was served with a very, very good ratatouille.
A tarte fine and a blancmanger finished a lovely meal.
On our second visit to Vaucluse this year we decided to again visit Crillon due to the positive impression we gained last visit. This time we were even more impressed. The chef seems to have paired his food back to the bare essentials, letting his skill at the stoves and the quality of the produce do the talking.
On a hot summer night a frothy tomato veloute started the meal well. Another dish of utter simplicity was 9 bite size pieces of local melon each with a single morsel of bacon fat sitting on top. The two went together perfectly. We were so impressed with the cleverness and simplicity of this dish.
Both our first courses were teamed with an interesting wines from the other side of France. We chose a wine from an emerging domain in an emerging appellation. We have for some time been impressed with the pinot noir-based wines of Domaine St Nicholas which is situated overlooking the Atlantic just south of the mouth of the Loire, in the Fiefs Vendeens appellation. We chose their Le Haut des Clous white wine which was racy, flinty and which exhibited a good acid backbone.
We moved on to two main courses that were each exemplary from both the perspective of cooking technique and flavour. The first was the signature roasted lamb We were presented with slices of moist, tender, pink, flavoursome meat moistened with a very light jus. Accompanying was a small pot of excellent ratatouille. We paired this with a Domaine la Monadiere Vacqueyras Les 2 Monardes which worked perfectly.
Our other dish was a wild sea bass roasted with herbs. We have not eaten a more precisely cooked piece of fish since a meal at the Pier in Sydney two years ago.
Desserts were very summery with a simple dish of strawberries enlivened and made more interesting (and local) with lavender. A coupe of poached peaches was equally wonderful.
We walked away from this meal thoroughly satisfied with the service and the quality of the food. The chef deserves full praise for his restrained and skilful cooking.
Unfortunately, recent experiences at this hotel restaurant have not been as perfect. The cooking appears to be less focussed and we are withdrawing our star ratings until further visits suggest otherwise.
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