MARSEILLE, France – The restaurant industry is not immune to the “flavor of the day” and its effects. We see them in the worlds of art, design, architecture, and even writing. The temptation for restaurants to follow the latest fad isn’t limited to restaurant décor and trendy cocktails, but can creep into the menu, as well, as diners demand washoku, or fusion or “new Nordic cuisine” –themed fare. A restaurant in Marseille is not immune to that.
In this series, Cédric Lizotte visits some of Europe’s best restaurants. He shares his inside knowledge about the best places to sample the delights of some of the best chefs on the planet. Follow his gastronomical journey with the hashtag #CedricInEurope.
But as much as we appreciate innovation and contemporary styles, there is much to be said for the classics, perhaps especially when it comes to cuisine. La Table du Fort, located near the port in Marseille is the perfect example.
La Table du Fort could aptly be described as French Nouvelle Cuisine, even though owners Emeline and Nicolas Muller likely would deny the comparison – after all, that style of cooking is out of fashion these days. It’s so very 1990s.
It is true that at the height of its popularity, there was a lot of awkward and amateurish Nouvelle Cuisine out there to be found. La Table du Fort is neither. All the elements that made us fall in love with the style in the first place are evident and in abundance: the fresh, light sauces, the seasonal ingredients, the small portions, the short cooking time and the artistic presentation.
The restaurant is tucked away – hidden in plain sight on a busy thoroughfare, near a dozen cafes and terraces of the port. Inside, the dining area is decked out with red banquettes and paper luminaires, lending a warmth to the space, and is capped by a beautiful ceiling crossed by horizontal wooden beams. The service is courteous and simple, efficient and friendly.
Table du Fort, Restaurant in Marseille: The Dishes
The lunch menu could not be any simpler: a single starter, a single entrée and a single dessert are offered daily and created around what is seasonally available.
During my visit to the restaurant, the mise-en-bouche was a delightful tapenade (mandatory in this part of the world), a cream of asparagus soup and a glass of rosé, Domaine de Jale, Côtes de Provence. It doesn’t get any more local than this.
Next, the first course made its beautiful entrance – on that day it was mesclun and cod.
Nearby, a customer explained his very specialized dietary restrictions – an old man couldn’t have anything remotely acid in his plate, thus no vinegars – and the chef stepped out of the kitchen in order to make sure that his customer would get exactly what he wants.
Then came the main course, a simple but lovely dish of veal, bacon and root vegetables, perfectly paired with a glass of Domaine des 2 ânes, Premiers pas, 2013. The veal is cooked to perfection – tender and juicy. I was very surprised when I noticed that it’s a piece of leg! It felt like a much tenderer piece of meat.
For dessert, a soft chocolate fondant, with hints of mint and pistachio.
In fact, the only disappointment throughout the entire meal was the post-dessert espresso. But even though the coffee was sub-par, the rest of our experience is to be recommended – an enjoyable combination of old and new.
La Table du Fort
8 Rue Fort Notre Dame, 13007 Marseille, France
+33 4 91 33 97 65
Note: It’s right after eating at the Table du Fort that I was robbed of all my belongings, including my camera, at the Gare Saint-Charles. The pictures are therefore courtesy of the Table du Fort!