Friday, September 09, 2011

Maison Pic, Valance, France (Restaurant review)

Sorry about the hiatus. We've just spent 10 days travelling (and eating!) in Normandie and Bretagne with our little family. While we unpack our bags and upload the photos, I'll share some photos from our last trip to France in August 2009. Back then we were still three - our daughter just 7,5 months old - and we had a chance to eat in two 3-star restaurants. Excellent meals both, and I'll start with Anne-Sophie Pic's restaurant, where we had a lunch, a full tasting menu and breakfast.

Anne-Sophie Pic (born in 1969) is the head chef at La Maison Pic in Valance, France. She's a third-generation la chef cuisinier of the family restaurant, which was previously run by her dad and grand-dad. She earned the third Michelin star already at the age of 37, and is one of the only two female chefs in France and of female chefs in the world to win the accolade. Earlier this year she was also named the World's Best Female Chef (you can read an excellent synopsis of her culinary credentials and history here). Even before that last award, I was extremely excited about the chance to have lunch and dinner at her restaurant. Valance isn't on most tourist routes, but as we were driving down from Lyon to our friends' wedding in Sauzet further South, it was conveniently on the way. Lucky me :)

Anne-Sophie with her dad and grandfather:
Anne-Sophie Pic with her dad and granddad

Upon arrival we had some nibbles in the courtyard, while our room was being prepared. From left to right: tomato and lemon macaroon, basil and ricotta sphere, peanut marshmallow, foie gras and apple:
Amuse bouche

Maison Pic

That was a great alternative to the more usual nut selection:
Nut bowls

After settling into our spacious room, we headed for lunch at Bistrot Le 7. The name Le 7 is an homage to Route Nationale 7, a famous motorway connecting Paris and Côte d’Azur (The French Wench has written more about it).
Bistrot Le 7

Le tarte fine croustillante de saumon salma, légumes croquants aux aromates (for me):
Bistrot Le 7, Valence: le tarte fine croustillante de saumon salma, légumes croquants aux aromates

K. was very pleased with his tomato starter - Les tomates de variétés anciennes, crémeux de mozzarella di bufala - one of the reasons why he's so supportive of my grow-as-many-tomato-varieties-as-you-can hobby:
Bistrot Le 7, Valence: Les tomates de variétés anciennes, crémeux de mozzarella di bufala

For the main course, I went for the veal dish - Le poitrine de veau, confite aux aromates, etuvée fondante de fenouils et poivrons rouges:
Bistrot Le 7, Valence: le poitrine de veau, confite aux aromates, etuvée fondante de fenouils et poivrons rouges

K. chose the cod - Le cabillaud, cuit sur la peau a la'huile d'olive,fondant de carottes des sables a la fleur de thym:
Bistrot Le 7, Valence: le cabillaud, cuit sur la peau a la'huile d'olive,fondant de carottes des sables a la fleur de thym

For dessert, I opted for the classic strawberry-basil combination - Le fraisier version 2009; biscuit pistache, sorbet basilic (for me):
Bistrot Le 7, Valence: Le fraisier version 2009, biscuit pistache, sorbet basilic

K. opted for the cheese plate:
Bistrot Le 7, Valence: fromage

We were very pleased with our lunch - it was flavoursome and very pleasing to the eye.

We had a pretty late dinner. I apologise for the quality of the photos - there wasn't any natural light, of course, and we didn't want to use the flash. We opted for the News Menu (or Menu Actualités), which was the one of the tasting menues on offer.

I loved the personal touches on the cutlery and dishes (see also the amuse bouche plate above):
News Menu @ Maison Pic

News Menu @ Maison Pic

Summer truffle:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

Veal sweetbread:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

Foie gras:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

Lobster tail in a spicy broth:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

I loved the cucumber crocant that accompanied this subtly flavoured fish:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

Rinse-bouche: coffee granita with Limoncello foam:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

A beautiful cheese board:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

News Menu @ Maison Pic

A very pretty dessert with raspberry sorbet:
News Menu @ Maison Pic

Overall the food was very tasty. We appreciated that Anne-Sophie Pic came to personally greet us at the end of the meal and speak about the difficulties of travelling and dining out with a baby :) She had seen our little daughter, sleeping at the Reception (we had asked about being allowed into the restaurant with the baby and they assured us it's fine and that they're happy to babysit the baby during our meal - which the kind receptionists ended up doing. Very thoughtful).

However, when looking at the visual side of the meal, it was all quite pared down and beige-brown (NB! I'm talking about dinner here!). We had another 3-star meal during our trip (@ Régis Marcon's restaurant), which was visually much more entertaining and impressive (our only other comparison is with lunch @ El Bulli in 2008). The only real 'eye candy' was the dessert.

Breakfast - croissants and other pastries, yoghurt verrines, some fresh fruit:
Breakfast @ Maison Pic, Valence, France

Breakfast Breakfast @ Maison Pic, Valence, France@ Maison Pic

Breakfast @ Maison Pic, Valence, France

Breakfast @ Maison Pic, Valence, France

Oh, the hotel gave our daughter a little present - a green soft frog with Maison Pic's shawl. She loved (eating) it :)
Breakfast @ Maison Pic, Valence, France

Here's me, my daughter and the Chef, just before we checked out:
Me, Nora Adeele & Anne-Sophie Pic

Would I go again? Yes, definitely - both for the food, for the hotel, and for the beautiful chef :)


Rona Y said...

Is the pastry chef of Maison Pic one of the chefs featured in The Kings of Pastry documentary? I think he was the one who was awarded the MOF despite having broken his sugar sculpture. I'd love to try his pastries!

Pille said...

You're right, Rona! I hadn't seen the documentary, so I wasn't thinking about that at all. Philippe Rigollot is indeed the pastry chef at Maison Pic (has been so since March 2000, I believe). Thank you for pointing it out to me :)

pagulane said...

Heldeke, millised hinnad! Kõhu ikka saab täis? Iga ports ei paista suutäiest suurem olevat.

Pille said...

Hää Pagulane, kõhu saab kindlasti täis, kuigi rasket/ebameeldivat täiskõhutunnet ei teki. Portsjonid olid küll väikesed - aga kui tegemist on 7-käigulise menüü + nipet-näpet, siis ei saagi ju iga taldrikutäis korralik liha+2 köögivilja olla, siis sööks end lõhki. Mitmed asjad - harknääre, nuummaks - on iseenesest juba väga toitvad.

Mis hindadesse puutub, siis esiteks saab igaüks ju valida, milliste elamuste peale ta raha kulutab ning teiseks on aeg-ajalt pakkumisel soodsaid ööbimine+õhtusöök pakette. Tuleb silmad-kõrvad lahti hoida.

Sandra @The French Wench said...


Thank you for mentioning my blog! I'm glad you enjoyed your stay in Valence :-)

I enjoyed my lunch at "Le 7" and hope next time I'll have a meal at the original "Maison Pic", looks great!

ChichaJo said...

What gorgeous meals! I am not as confident as you when travelling with the little one. It's a joy to be sure but I am sure I don't look as calm and collected as you do!

Pille said...

Sandra - hope you'll get a chance indeed - it was lovely!

Joey- we've had our moments. Travelling with two little ones was much more of a challenge, however and I doubt I ever looked as composed during our last trip to France :D