Mane: Le Cloître
Le Cloître, the restaurant gastronomique at the new Couvent des Minimes hotel in the tiny village of Mane, is the hottest reservation in the Luberon. The hotel, which also features a terrific spa run by the L’Occitane toiletries company (which was founded in Mane), pulled off a real coup in hiring chef Philippe Guérin away from the Château du Domaine Saint Martin outside of Vence. Guérin’s distinguished resume includes working with such chefs as Alain Chapel, Jean Bardet, the Pourcel brothers (of Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier) and Alain Llorca—experience that was deliciously evident in every dish we tasted during a delightful outdoor dinner in the hotel’s courtyard.
A ricotta-filled ravioli starter came in a luscious red-pepper coulis, while a masterfully made risotto was lavishly garnished with summer truffles and deeply reduced veal jus. For our main courses, cod demi-sel (lightly salted) was sprinkled with tiny squid and Jabugo ham, while lamb from Sisteron (some of the best in France) was served in two ways—the saddle roasted with herbs and chops pan-seared and served with stuffed zucchini flowers. To conclude, there was a brilliant dessert composed of black cherries with soy milk, white chocolate flan and cherry-licorice ice. An appealing assortment of wines is served by the glass, including an excellent white Cassis, while the wine list includes a first-rate selection of Côtes de Provence. Although Le Cloître is expensive, it’s very much worth it for a special occasion.
Chemin des Jeux de Maï, Mane, 04.92.74.77.77. Prix-fixe menu €50; tasting menu €90; à la carte €100. Prices are per person without wine.
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Originally published in the September 2008 issue of France Today.
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