You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 17, 2019.

My far better half (FBH) and I first ate at La Potinière in 2001.

It is located in the heart of Cannes, near the main post office and Palais des Festivals at 13 Square Mérimée.

Potinière means ‘gossping place’, by the way.

2001

I was not keeping food diaries at that point, but I vaguely recall having something with artichokes and most certainly had either prawns or Mediterranean sea bass (loup).

Desserts

What we remember most were the desserts.

The association of olive oil producers had put out a few new, cutting edge recipes that year. One was for strawberries in olive oil with basil, ground pepper and black olives.

It sounds disgusting until you taste it.

Strawberries in olive oil

1 punnet strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
4 – 5 shredded basil leaves
3 – 4 twists of black pepper
1 – 2 tsp sugar
6 – 7 pitted black olives, thinly sliced
Dash of balsamic vinegar

Mix everything together 15 minutes beforehand and serve in a parfait glass with a sprig of mint.

As I was sceptical of this combination, I opted for the restaurant’s homemade ice cream. That was when lavender ice cream was all the rage along the French and Italian Rivieras. The owner said he would give me a scoop of lavender and one of pistachio. A Mediterranean combination made in heaven! Sheer bliss.

FBH had the strawberries and raved about them. I tried a spoonful. They were fantastic!

We made this recipe at home several times afterwards. Our guests loved it, too.

2003

Again, I had no food diary, but what we had was excellent.

I don’t think they had the strawberries on the menu anymore, which was somewhat disappointing.

Gossip

What I do remember was a conversation we had with the man we reckoned was the owner, who is no doubt the son of the founding family and father — probably — of the current proprietor. He was in his 50s at the time.

When we had been there in 2001, a chef from London opened his own restaurant next door. I’d read about it in the Evening Standard a few months before we went to Cannes. We didn’t eat there, as the interior was very dark: purple walls.

In 2003, the Englishman’s restaurant was no longer there. We asked the gentleman from La Potinière what happened. He said that he and other restaurateurs attempted to befriend him and welcome him into their little informal club. The Englishman, to his detriment, was not interested.

Our man told us how important it was to be on good terms with other restaurateurs in Cannes. Whilst they are competitors, they are also allies, sometimes friends. He said they can help you source better deals and, if you run short of something, they can supply it on a busy night.

Unfortunately, the Englishman, the man said, thought he could do it all by himself. Eventually, business trickled off and, as he had no restaurateur friends in town, it closed.

Moral of the story: when someone in the know, especially your next door neighbour, extends a professional hand of friendship, accept his kindness.

Subsequent years

We went to La Potinière a few more times afterwards.

I can’t remember when we stopped going. Possibly 2013 or 2015. The menu changed and seemed a bit lacklustre to us. Service, even from our man, was so-so.

In any event, they expanded next door, which was good.

2019

We wanted a restaurant nearby this year, because on the night we went, a new episode of Philippe Etchebest’s Cauchmar en Cuisine (Kitchen Nightmare) was going to air on M6 at 9 p.m. There’s nothing like watching one of your favourite foreign television shows on the night it airs, is there?

So, we opted for La Potinière. Our man was still there in the background, but it seemed as if his daughter (?) was running front of house. She made a point of speaking English to us most of the time, even though we kept responding in French. She was quite friendly, although rather forceful.

They had a new summer apprentice and she taught him how to present wine to the customer, how to open the bottle and then pour a tasting portion. He must have only just turned 18. He was rather nervous, understandably. It was his first day.

Starters

FBH had smoked salmon.

I had deep fried king prawn spring rolls Indonesian style (4 pieces), which were excellent: hot and crispy to the very end.

Mains

FBH had a roast chicken breast, which was competently prepared.

I had fillet of sea bream (daurade royale), which was outstanding.

Wine

We drank a bottle of white Cassis — Bodin 2017 — for €39.

Bill

We each had the €25.50 prix fixe menu. Our bill came to €90 — our least expensive evening out on this trip.

And, yes, we left the restaurant at 8:45 p.m., in plenty of time to be ready for Cauchemar en Cuisine, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Additional notes

The founders’ grandson, Larry, was the head chef for several years and has been managing the restaurant for at least four or five years now. He trained under Jacques Chibois and also attended Alain Ducasse’s cooking school.

The current chef favours lighter, modern, no-frills dishes focussing on a main ingredient, be it fish, meat or aubergine. This is a vegetable-friendly establishment. They also have their own traditional pizza oven.

TripAdvisor has customer reviews for the restaurant.

Conclusion

Would we rush back? No.

Is La Potinière a good place for dining on simple food relatively quickly? Yes.

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