Une Table au Sud

One of the highlights of my trip to Marseille was the impeccable dinner at Une Table au Sud. The best part about dining in Marseille is you can get away with more ‘casual’ dress whereas in comparable, white tablecloth establishments in Paris, you feel stuffy in a suit and tie ensemble. Well I suppose I don’t have that suit and tie issue…bonus: I got away with casual [shiny] sandals!

Santé

Two words: kir royal. There’s no better way to enjoy the view overlooking Vieux Port and start the meal off right than with the best kir royal in France.

Rosé

I’m no flower girl but I’ll never look at roses the same again after this pâtisserie program. I find myself scrutinizing roses now…c’est bizarre?

Amuse: Langoustine bisque, pommes de terre violette, pastis chocolat, tapenade biscuit, parmesan biscuit

[shot of langoustine, purple chips, chocolate sphere, tapenade roll, parmesan bite]

I really enjoy purple potato chips not only because they’re my favorite color but because they stay crispy and have a nice saltiness with a hint of sweetness. The array of salt and textures that spanned this amuse excited me for what was to come.

Petites girelles de Méditerranée // Boeuf et Pastektomat

[Mediterranean wrass // beef tartare with tomato]

After experiencing beef tartare in France, I’m not sure I can order it again in the States. It’s just not the same. It’s more than just a diced meat medley. The use of herbs, shallots and in this case, tomatoes, combined with the cohesive texture is no where to be found in Boston. And the girelles?  Nicely crisp and salted and thus tasty, especially for cold, cooked fish.

Milkshake de Bouille-Abaisse

[Bouillabaisse milkshake, mascarpone, whipped potatoes, parmesan tuile, bisque foam]

The term ‘milkshake’ frightened me at first. I wasn’t sure I wanted my first French Bouillabaisse to be in milkshake form, however this proved to be heavenly. I never thought I’d enjoy such layering of creamy, frothy and crunchy in a salty, non-dessert form. Bravo! The portioning was spot on as well seeing as I didn’t feel like a glutton immediately afterwards.

Aiguilletes de Saint Pierre, vinaigrette à la griotte et oignons doux

[Saint Pierre with piment d’espilette, cherry vinaigrette, eggplant, thyme, tomato, wasabi, crunch parmesan, baby arugula, sweet onion purée]

The specks of heat along with the use of bitter [arugula] and sour [cherries] was a good follow-up to the previous salty, cheesy, creamy dishes. My only critique is this course lacked crunch. The arugula leaves and sesame seeds fell short of the textural component that had been present in all the previous dishes leading up to this point.

Suprême de pigeonneau au parfum d’harissa et Colonnata, artichauts poivrrades et truffes blances d’été]

[Squab with harissa chili, pumpkin seeds, olive, white truffles, whole roasted garlic]

It is always an exciting moment when the server comes to replenish my silverware and I see a pointy, serrated knife indicating a protein dish to ensue. The squab was juicy, likely from brining prior to cooking, and the jus was deep, rich and complex as it should be. The accompaniments paired nicely but had no wow factor. Squab + truffles + garlic = it’s been done before. I did however enjoy the use of pumpkin seeds as the crunch factor.

Pélardon fermie Pradeilles affiné par Joëlle Déal

[chevre, arugula, lemon confiture, baguette chip]

I love to smell dishes before I indulge. Smell is my strongest sense and I highly recommend smelling food before consuming because it is good practice for recognition in case 1) I go blind one day 2) I have to do the ingredient tasting challenge on Top Chef or 3) _____ . However, I often forget to smell ‘lightly’ when eating cheese. Like chemistry class or cooking a large cauldron of soup, I should simply waft the odors to my nose and slowly inhale rather than sticking a forkful of fromage to my nostril and shoot up like a junkie. Lesson learned: sniff easy. As you also may recall, I’m not a huge fan of fromage. I try to understand and indulge but at the end of a meal, nine times out of ten, I’d prefer dessert. On the other hand, I chose the path of chefhood because I like changing people’s perception about food. Therefore it is important for me to keep an open mind as well. I guess you could say this plat de fromage changed my life, or perhaps just my excitement for cheese. It IS possible to enjoy the right fromage with the right accompaniments. The harmony of creamy, tangy, sweet, and crunchy was magnifique. I ate it all!

Sphère de chocolat noir, fruits rouges et piquillos

[chocolate sphere, vanilla syrup, fromage blanc, raspberries]

From beginning to end, the service was knowledgeable, attentive and accommodating. I think I enjoyed the dessert even more because of the table-side presentation. It makes all the difference that a server pours warm vanilla syrup over my chocolate sphere as I “Ooo” and “Ahhh”, all the while snapping away at action shots. The dessert would not have been nearly as decadent without the warm vanilla syrup to usher in the chilled fromage blanc and tart berries.

Guimauve ananas, cigarettes, pop-corn
[pineapple marshmallow, cigarettes, popcorn]
The final touch brought everything home. Literally. I popped the whole thing in at once and in an instant it was gone. For some reason it brought a smile to my mouth. I had to have another. The server giggled sheepishly and brought me a second skewer. This time I subdued the marshmallow monster inside of me and took it in slowly with my eyes closed. (Cheesy I know, but it helps me recollect yummy things from the past.) It was like an out of body experience. The light, pillowy pineapple marshmallow transported me from Marseille to Taiwan. Huh? “凤梨酥!” I exclaimed happily, noting the flavor similarities. Home away from home never tasted so good.
Miel, sucre, cassonade
[honey, sugar, brown sugar]
If you’re ever in Marseille, don’t even think twice. Go to Une Table au Sud. I hope you have as marvelous an experience as I did.
Café express
[espresso]
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