Standing in the middle of the weekly market at Aix en Provence we consulted a list of restaurant recommendations while trying to find one nearby on the map. A friendly stallholder strolled over and glanced at our list. “Amphityron” he declared “tres bon“. That settled it Joyce, Huy, Miranda and I were off to Amphityron for lunch.
“Tell Patrice that Fouad sent you” said our new friend. Patrice was Patrice Lesne the co owner of Amphityron along with chef Bruno Ungaro . He was very hospitable and with one mention of Fouad’s name we were served a complimentary apertif of rose. With no seats in the main restaurant, Patrice seated us in the attached Comptoir de l’Amphi which was in reality a bar area with high tables and bar stools to sit on. While the surroundings were not quite as plush as the restaurant proper, the Comptoir de l’Amphi offered the full menu from Amphityron along with some additional dishes.
The fabulous thing about France is the plat du jour that almost every restaurant offers at lunchtime. For 21 euros you could have two courses which provided a low cost way to sample Amphityron’s adventurous menu. Entree choices include a leek soup served with a beetroot foam on the side and from the a la carte menu pumpkin soup with blue cheese ice cream. It all looked spectacular but the soup was served tepid. We had to send both soups back and the waiting staff looked very unimpressed.
Every now and again Amphityron’s offerings achieve a magical equilibrium. A fillet of pork served as medallions was moist and complemented by sticky, sweet figs stuffed inside the meat. However, a kebab of scallops served with penne arribiata was just a little too bizarre. The strong flavour of the arribiata drowned out the delicate scallops and it should really have been two separate dishes
While our meal was erratic in quality Amphityron is still worth a visit if you are in Provence. The more adventurous menu options may not always be successful but at least they are never boring. Tell them that Faud sent you.
Details: 2 et 4, rue Paul Doumer, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France (Ph 04 42 26 54 10)
Damage: Pricey (although the Plat du Jour is good value)