Q: What is it? A: An extremely competent restaurant in the world’s perfume capital.
Located in la capitale mondiale des parfums…
Aaah… le Côte d’Azur, home to the highest concentration of outrageously large yachts in the world; where nobody will raise an eyebrow if you drive the limited edition of an already limited Italian sports car; and where people wouldn’t settle for anything less than a perfectly well manicured lawn. Yes, money can buy you happiness. The quickest and most convenient way to acquire oneself a piece of the cake, is to get yourself a table in a well polished place, run by the people who invented laid back luxury. Michelin starred? Naturellement!
A 17th century estate known as La Bastide Saint-Antoine.
A Mr. John Taylor, (an English aristocrat, not the bass player of Duran Duran), acquired the property in 1864. Almost a century later, the Kennedy family and their children spent their summer vacation here. Then there was the era of Mr Robert Labé who threw huge parties and staged fabulous fashion shows in the garden. He invited the Rolling Stones, who after the party refused to leave. Bill Wyman stayed here for a whole year in 1975. Today the main building is a small hotel with nine rooms and seven suites. No, I haven’t stayed there over night. I just had lunch.
Received his second Michelin star in 1997. Lost it in 2011.
Jacques Chibois and his wife took over the country house in 1996, enlarged it and started to run it as a small, secluded hotel surrounded by a the 7-acre park with olives and cypresses. Guide Michelin soon started to sprinkle their stars over the restaurant and guests came in hordes. Why? Mostly because M. Chibois already had built himself a solid reputation during fifteen years at the Gray d’Albion, in Cannes. Yes, solid is the word. It would be an exaggeration to say that Jacques Chibois is a man of wild improvisation. The strings he’s playing produce more subtle tones.
An affordable feast.
My tip: Reserve yourself a table around lunch. A meal on the terrace underneath the trees makes you feel like a million bucks, without you having to pay that many. Actually, the difference in price between the Menu du Déjeuner (€ 59) and the rest of them (€ 160 and € 190) puzzles me. It’s completely misleading, as there’s absolutely nothing low-budget-y over a lunch at La Bastide Saint Antoine.
Just recently, I also stumbled upon a few reviews that weren’t very favourable. Plus, in March 2011, the restaurant lost 50% of its two Michelin stars. I can only speculate on the reasons, but my guess is that as Jacques Chibois is putting on a solid and rather subtle show, he fails to impress those arriving with high expectations. I left satisfied, (although not overly excited), after what is probably still one of the best culinary experiences along the Riviera.
Grasse is located roughly 27,35 km from Nice and 12,87 km from Cannes.
La Bastide Saint Antoine
48 Avenue Henri Dunant
Grasse, Cote d’Azur, 06130