Recommendations for Avignon and Les Baux

Recommendations for Avignon and Les Baux
If you are staying at Riboto de Taven, or you are in the general area, please consider having dinner at the restaurant of Oustau de Baumaniere (a Relais & Chateaux hotel at the base of Les Baux). This lovely restaurant boasts an excellent view, indoor and outdoor seating (depending on what the servers think the weather is going to do), and very good food. The restaurant, which is medium sized, is made of white stone. The roof is vaulted, making the dining room appear larger than it is. Surrounding the restaurant are gardens, from which the chef picks fresh greens to use in his dishes. Sitting on the patio, one can view Les Baux and the surrounding cliffs. As the sun sets, these cliffs become very beautiful. Also, if you are sitting on the patio, look for the rock on the cliff face that resembles a sheep’s head. Look carefully, its there… The food, as mentioned above, is very tasty. For amusées, we were served small crackers with a dollop of green olive mousse on each, as well as small pieces of toast covered with fresh minced vegetables. I ordered foie-gras for an appetizer: it was covered with greens picked from the restaurant’s gardens and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For an entrée, I ordered the gigot en croute for two (which I split with my Dad), served with a mustard and au jus sauces. (This dish is a house specialty and they carve it at the table.) For desert, almost everyone ordered the apricot soufflé. This meal was outstanding. The best part of the meal was yet to come. After the soufflé, we thought we were about to explode. There had been so much food served that we were glad the eating was over. Well, it wasn’t. Apparently, when my mother made reservations, she mentioned to the head waiter that my grandparents would be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on this trip. This message got around to the chef, and he prepared an ice-cream cake for us. Stuffed as we all were, we made quite an attempt to eat that delicious concoction.  The walk back to Riboto did little to ease our gastronomic pain. If the formal fare at Oustau is not what you desire, then perhaps you should consider the restaurant at Riboto de Taven. This wonderful place serves high-quality food at a reasonable price. Indeed, dinner at Riboto is much more affordable than dinner at Oustau. The grounds of Riboto are very nice. If you dine outside, you’ll be able to enjoy the view of the cliffs. You can also enjoy the manicured grounds of Riboto. (I’ve met the gardener, a very nice man who does a magnificent job managing the foliage.) If you eat inside, you will also be pleased. Though less ornate and formal than Oustau’s dining room, the one at Riboto is warm and charming, with family antiques (including a three-generation-old pannetierre [hanging bread box]) that contribute to the ambience. There is a nice fireplace, and there are fewer tables. The setting is more intimate, and it would be a good choice for a romantic dinner. The service at Riboto is very good because the owners, Monsieur and Madame Theme, excel at this themselves. But, because the restaurant is small, having only two people serving works out well. Monsieur and Madame Theme are lovely people, and they strive to make you fell at home. To them you are like family. The offerings at Riboto are not as fancy or heavy as those at Oustau, but they are every bit as good and fresh. When I dined here, I ordered a sweet pepper stuffed with lobster and crab meat as an appetizer (it was outstanding), monkfish served with eggplant, squash, and tomato as an entrée, and an apple tart for dessert. And, naturally, there was a cheese course. If someone offered to buy me dinner every night at one of these two restaurants, I would choose Riboto nine times out of ten. It is less expensive than Oustau (which is good for the person buying my food), it has a great atmosphere, and the food is of a very high quality. If I needed to impress someone (a business dinner, a special occasion, etc.) or I just wanted some heavier food, I would eat at Oustau. The bottom line is this: both restaurants are good, but they serve different styles of dinners. If you can only eat at one of these restaurants, hopefully this review has helped you decide at which restaurant to dine. If you can’t make up your mind, don’t worry: just flip a coin or something. You simply can’t go wrong, whichever way you choose. Taylor Horton is a high school student who considers himself very fortunate to be writing for Bonjour Paris this summer.
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