I wanted to return to 'Pic' after visiting there in 2001 ..just one month after 9/11. I remember the comforting feel of this Relais and Chateau, the serenity of the public rooms, enjoying this restaurant where the prodigal daughter had returned to take the reins of this once restaurant gastronomique... and how it was a wonderful respite upon leaving Manhattan for a few days. In 2001, Madame Sophie had elevated the restaurant to 2* and had renovated the hotel and word was getting out. We now fast forward to last Month...May...2012.
Returning to Pic (Now Maison Pic) was a specific addition to our trip (part business and always pleasure) as Valence is not usually a destination worthy of itself. There are some Roman ruins in the vicinity but Valence is a quiet, regional town that you could easily pass in order to get to a much more exciting destination The reason you decide to go to Valence, not unlike driving to a remote corner of the 'Aveyron' to experience the magnificence of Michel Bras, is to spend an evening in a lovely luxurious hotel with beautiful chambers (even the standards) filled with all the five star amenities, top-of-the-line bathroom, spacious bedroom with all details from linens to the modern yet cozy ambiance and a shiny clean brilliance to the rooms. Still..that is not why you come although it is the 'chantilly sur le gateau' ! No.No. It is the amazing dining experience that will be quite memorable. Madame Anne Sophie who earned her 3 star , (I think, either 2 years ago or close to that), has indeed elevated herself to a level where I can safely say that she could be considered (along with Bras, Michel Guerrard at 'Eugenie and Levernois in Beaune) among the best Chefs in France who does not reside in Paris. The dining room is a melange of country casual 'top of the line' design with a wonderful staff that also finds the perfect fusion of 3* service while making you feel very, very comfortable and welcome. I had read about the 'Season Menu' (actually) on 'Trip Adviser' and had also looked on the site as I wanted to see the changes and elevation of cuisine listed since our last visit. Atomique. Chouette. Formidable. The experience of taking a superior room , enjoying the hotel (it is located in an offbeat area at the outskirts of Valence so spend more time enjoying "Pic' and less time in Valence) and the superior meal made
it clear that we were correct in returning. But I digress (as I always do), after 'loving' the dining room (renovated since 2001) and enjoying some amuses-bouches we started the serious part of the meal. I declined the sommeliers strong recommendations of the expensive regional wines such as 'Gigondas , Croze-Hermitage'... and went for my all time favorite white wine (truly...al time favorite) that was created in the Rhone Valley. A delicious dry and fruity Viognier at half the price of the recommended suggestions. Wine-wise, we then each had a glass of the Croze-Hermitage by the glass and it was wonderful. You really don't need to spend a fortune on wine in this region (home of my favorite French wines). Of course we tried the Carrot and beetroot starters on the 'Spring Menu" and the subtle yet sublime taste was simply unreal. Anne Sophie Pic has taken foie gras to a new level of heaven. It was served with a local melange of fruits made into a chutney just that morning and the addition of tiny slivers of a local yellow mushroom infused with mild herbs that when tasted together on a perfect warmed piece of toast...was incredible. It was a meal in itself. My partner had a local Fish dish that he proclaimed excellent (I don't eat anything that swims) and my Lamb dish was one of the best I've ever had in Provence or around the region. Swimming in its own juices and infused with local herbs and pieces of roasted fenugreek....it was a taste sensation. It was served with vegetables mixed with just a touch of goat cheese in a delectable tart and two other sides that were better than the last. The breads, by the way, are addictive and you can find yourself calling over the 'server du pain(?) quite often. Payer attention a Ca ! More between meal refreshers to cleanse the palate and then a soufflé that I knew would need a 7 mile run the next day to cleanse my guilt. A Vanilla Souffle with Raspberry liqueur and ribbons of dark chocolate throughout the dessert. We took cognac in one of the salons and indeed like last time, Anne Sophie came out to chat with us and she is as delightful and modest as I remember her. We enjoyed our cognac and then more tea (actually herbal drinks are not tea..they are infusions ...the French are quite literal...tea is only a drink made with tea leaves..an herbal infusion is what we call 'Herbal Tea' and actually...we are wrong to do so..tea is tea...Chamomile is chamomile...not tea) or our 'Infusuion' of Verveine that is so soothing after a meal gastronomique..except that they brought more petit-fours and delicious chocolate with the Verveine. Breakfast next morning was as you would expect...a wonderful way to end this petit sejour to spend an evening with one of the finest chefs in France. Anne Sophie Pic.
- Also Known As:
- Maison Pic Hotel
- Pic Hotel
- Maison Pic Valence
- Maison Pic Hotel Valence
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