Dinner In The Cave
L’Arôme – Bonnieux, France
Continental – Visited: September 2016
Situated on a stunningly picturesque Provence plateau high in the Luberon hills, beautiful Bonnieux became our home for four nights in the autumn of 2016 on our three-week trip to France. The owner at our fantastic B&B, Les Terrasses du Luberon, a property complete with sweeping views over the surrounding countryside, had recommended L’Arôme as a wonderful choice for our first night.
Our dinner reservations on this evening were at 8 p.m. Our walk into town for dinner would prove to be an adventure. First of all, B&B owner Jean Marc, in an Indiana Jones moment, asked whether we needed a “torch” for the journey. My first thought: “Are we going to walk through a cave with a big rock rolling toward us?” As it turned out, the torch was a flashlight, which we would need when we returned from our “easy” walk to and from the restaurant. Having iPhones, we declined.
Owner Jean Marc said there would be just a little traffic on the walk into town along what turned out to be a little busier road than expected with no shoulder. It really wasn’t dangerous…I think. What was dangerous turned out to be our hearing and comprehension skills. Jean Marc had given us great directions to walk to L’Arôme, but somehow we missed the turn onto the path less traveled. However, we did get some great views on our stroll.
Twenty minutes later (this is why we often leave early) we found the restaurant, which is even more gorgeous than the photos we had seen on its website. We then had to make a decision whether to dine inside the 11th-century romantic-looking cave or outside on the covered terrace.
We chose to eat inside, which was fortuitous as smoking was allowed outside.
L’Arôme, which opened in 2007, is one of the more visually appealing restaurants we have dined at on all our travels. Of course, we’re always suckers for vaulted, stone ceilings. (photo on right from L’Arôme website)
To complete the wonderful experience, the food at L’Arôme turned out to be exquisite (if food can be called exquisite). The restaurant features “a large selection of regional specialties.” Our server, Clara, helpful us decipher the menu (she might have been one of the owners), which had many enticing choices. Tracy started with a Kir Royale (her favorite aperitif when in France), while I decided to try the Cocktail Maison (orange juice, Cointreau and cranberry juice … I try to be healthy drinker).
Clara brought out an amuse bouche consisting of creamy mozzarella, tomato and basil pesto on a Parmesan biscuit. It might have been our first-ever amuse bouche to receive a “Wow.”
Tracy went with the €45 Menu Gourmand: House duck foie gras on fruit toast with quince chutney …
… Seared scallops with artichoke puree and walnut emulsion (L’Arôme is well-known for its seafood, and it was scrumptious) …
… a fromage course …
… and a Lava cake with cinnamon ice cream. All those dishes were great, with the lava cake receiving the coveted “Wow.”
I started with the green salad avec walnut vinegar dressing (€11) …
… followed by lamb chops in thyme jus (€33). These were perhaps the best lamb chops I’d ever eaten. They were cooked to medium rare perfection. Even Tracy, who really doesn’t care for lamb, gave the dish a “Double Wow.”
I also opted for the lava cake/cinnamon ice cream dessert. I was one contented boy.
Bonnieux has a number of excellent restaurants, and if you decide to make this charming town your base in the Luberon, make sure L’Arôme is one of your choices.
rue Lucien Blanc
Tel: 04 90 75 88 62
Lunch: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Thursday & Saturday – Tuesday
Dinner: 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Thursday – Tuesday