I am unable to find a suitable title summarizing last nights’ dining experience at Lou Cigalon which is located in an old 3 story house in the center of Valbonne.
Walking in the front door we immediately stopped as it seemed we were walking into the kitchen. No, it is the entrance to the restaurant where you walk by the Chef Chambaud
working under his shiny copper pans hanging from the ceiling.
He is alone in his kitchen and his wife accompanies the guests to their table. The small dining room is decorated in a fashionable modern Provence style with dim lights, small stone pavement and modern wall paintings giving a very romantic feel. There are only 6 tables which could accommodate up to 20 guests You are in Mrs Chambauds’ dining room and she will take care of you as if you were family.
One should take “guest” literally. Mr & Mrs Chambaud indicated that they chose to limit their number of guests to 10 or 4 tables and have no employees. Beyond that the Chef no longer enjoys cooking. This little secret was shared when I commented on the people without reservations being turned away while 2 of the 6 set tables remained unoccupied.
The restaurant offers only 3 menus (and the “a la carte” is a pick from these menus). The daily menu is posted on a blackboard and updated after the Chef returns from the market, the other two are changed on average every 2 months.
The food … even the word “food” seems inappropriate. Mr Chambaud in his fifties has accumulated a lot of experience before taking over this restaurant and because he enjoys
cooking he is closed 2 days a week while he teaches cooking to youngsters in a neighbouring town school.
Defining his cooking would certainly lead to “gastronomic” but not in the common sense.
It seems as though he starts off choosing a base component and builds up the dish with a number of ingredients such as crystal ginger, candied slice of garlic (looks like an almond), a flavoured herb grown in the Burgundy region, a run of 4 spices on the edge of the plate, … Each mouthful has a different taste according to what you have picked up with your fork.
A festival of taste for the palate.
In summary a meal at Lou Cigalon is like taking a tour in the vast world of cooking. For gourmets only ! And reservations a must.
PS. Mrs Chambaud has only basic knowledge of English but the Menu is in French & English so you will only miss out on the translation of some of the ingredients.