Le Bistrot du Paradou
New owners Jean-Louis and Mireille Pons, from nearby Arles, took over Chez Quénin, changing the name to the trendier-sounding Bistrot du Paradou and improving the cuisine, while maintaining the character—vintage-tiled floors, stone walls, timbered ceilings—of the old place. Mireille, the daughter of an Arlesian baker, commands the open kitchen, while the personable Jean-Louis, with his wonderful Provençal accent (vin blanc becomes "veng blahng"), works the room. Just as in the days of Quénin, there is only a single four-course prix fixe at each meal. Tuesday, for example, might feature roasted farm-raised guinea hen, and Friday is the day for aioli, the traditional Provençal feast of steamed vegetables, salt cod, and local snails accompanied by the pungent garlic mayonnaise for which it is named. The price includes a bottle of wine—red, white, or rosé. A recent dinner started with grilled orange roughy fillets drizzled with olive oil and garnished with basil, followed by a main course of sliced leg of lamb served with a potato gratin. Dessert was Mireille's plump and flaky strawberry tart. "Our most faithful clients call us at the beginning of the week to find out the menus for the next five days," Jean-Louis says, "then plan their week accordingly."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.