This Cannes restaurant’s name aptly describes itself, because it truly is a hit with customers!

Le Hit — Chez Jean-Louis is my favourite restaurant in the city. Others come close, but for top ratings on food, prices and hospitality, you cannot do better. Its location is also excellent, as it is a short walk away from the railway station and main bus stop.

Here is a bit about our past and present experiences at 12 rue du 24 août (24th of August Street) in Cannes.

Au Bec Fin

Many years ago there was a family-owned restaurant at 12 rue du 24 août called Au Bec Fin.

I ate there in May 1978, on my first visit to Cannes. It was the first time I’d ever had frogs legs. Smothered in a Provençal olive oil sauce with diced tomato and garlic, they were out of this world. Since then, I have always had frogs legs in Cannes. I consider it to be a good precursor of a return visit.

So, when my far better half (FBH) and I began taking holidays in the city, we used to go there. On our visit in 1999, we had their bourride, which is a Cannois version of bouillabaisse. Au Bec Fin’s came with the best ever rouille (rust) made from aïoli — a garlicky, saffron-infused mayonnaise — combined with plenty of paprika. Rouille is used to flavour the soup. I’ve tried many times to reproduce it at home but mine never tastes as good as theirs did.

Their steak tartare was also the best we’d ever had, and the accompanying skinny fries were out of this world. We have since been able to reproduce the tartare at home. Here is the recipe.

The interior of the restaurant was modest. There were old film canisters and strips of film hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately, those intriguing ornaments had to be removed, no doubt thanks to new health and safety laws.

There was a charming elderly woman who used to eat dinner there. I assume that was her daily meal and, at her age, probably all she needed for the next 24 hours. They did serve ample portions.

The staff always made conversation with her and other regular locals used to sit with her to chat.

Then, on our 2009 trip, we found to our great disappointment that Au Bec Fin had closed. What a sad day that was.

It became a lunch spot, and, in time, we lost track of it. The Cannes restaurant scene is ever changing, and the transformations the new owners make with their establishments pretty much obliterate what went before.

2017 — Le Hit

On our 2017 visit, we walked down the street and found Le Hit — Chez Jean-Louis.

The menu looked intriguing, so we made a reservation.

We were not sure what to expect, but it ended up being every bit as good as Au Bec Fin.

Jean-Louis gave us a warm welcome, as if he’d known us for years.

We ate there twice that year.

Jean-Louis has reasonably priced prix fixe menus and serves ample portions.

First visit

I noted the day we had our first dinner there: ‘Would return’.

Starters

FBH had salmon tartare.

I had frogs legs prepared in a nearly identical fashion to Au Bec Fin’s. This would have been enough for a main course. Sumptuous! A la carte, they cost €17.

Mains

FBH ordered steak tartare with big, fat chips. There was a bit of salad on the side. FBH said the tartare was too eggy. However, the fries were good, and the salad was dressed in a tasty vinaigrette.

I did much better with my gambas — big prawns — and rice, prepared similarly to the Provençal-style frogs legs. Delicious!

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Bandol rosé: La Bastide Blanche 2015, from the Bronzo family in Var (83330 Le Castellet).

Dessert

I ordered a cheese plate with four different kinds of French cheese and a side of salad. It came with a basket of bread along with butter. Superb!

Hospitality

We enjoyed ourselves so much that we were the last customers to leave.

Jean-Louis came over to talk to us after taking cigarette breaks outside the hairdresser’s across the street. He always asked how we liked each course and made small talk, which made us feel welcome.

Second visit

We made a return visit to Le Hit a week later.

Starters

I had frogs legs again and was not disappointed.

FBH ordered their homemade duck foie gras mi-cuit (pâté). It was a generous plate with a few slices — rather than just one — of foie gras, accompanied by a competently made fig chutney. As with the frogs legs, this is a meal in itself.

Mains

FBH had swordfish — espadon — with a delicious ratatouille.

I had the steak tartare this time. Yes, it was too eggy, but the chips were ‘top’, as the French say, and the salad brilliant.

Wine

We ordered the same Bandol (see above).

Dessert

We had eaten sufficiently and did not partake of dessert!

Hospitality

Once again, we were the last to leave.

Jean-Louis sat down at the table next to us, and we had a lengthy conversation with him about setting up a business and aspects of his private life.

FBH asked about Au Bec Fin. Jean-Louis said, ‘This is it! This is the same address!’

He told us that, for the first few years, he served only lunch before expanding into a dinner service. That was probably the lunch spot we had seen a few years earlier.

Incidentally, L’Internaute states that Le Hit was opened in 2010 by Jean-Louis Barthélemy.

Wow!

As I said above, we had no idea anymore because of subsequent restaurants in that street.

He introduced us to his intended successor, who was cleaning up behind the bar before returning to the kitchen.

We had a really good time and, once we left, put the restaurant on our list for a return visit in 2019.

2019

This year, we made two visits to Le Hit.

First visit

We could hardly wait to get there.

Starters

I had — what else? — frogs legs. I noted in my diary: ‘HUGE!’ The price has gone up by only €1 to €18.

FBH ordered the foie gras and salad again, pronouncing it ‘excellent’.

Mains

Jean-Louis came by with a slate listing dishes from that day’s lunch menu. He smiled and said, ‘We still have a few items left over, if you are interested’.

FBH ordered the duck breast off the prix fixe menu.

I had a look at the slate, which Jean-Louis reviewed in detail. One item caught my eye, something I’d never had: andouillette. Jean-Louis warned, ‘It’s tripe sausage, you know. I don’t like it, personally. That said, I only have three portions left.’

Yes, I knew what it was and I was willing to try it only at a restaurant I trusted: ‘Fine by me, I’ll have the andouillette’.

I was not disappointed. Instead of the tripe being minced, the chef had tightly rolled up the tripe and somehow managed to get it in the casing. It looked beautiful and tasted even better. It had very little intestinal taste at all. The accompanying sauce was plentiful and piquant, a perfect complement.

I told Jean-Louis that he was missing out on a real treat and asked him to relay my compliments to the chef.

Wine

We enjoyed a Côte de Provence: Estandon Rosé, which Jean-Louis says his own family enjoys.

Dessert

We did not have dessert that night.

Hospitality

Jean-Louis remembered us by sight. He told us that he had stopped smoking. I replied that we hadn’t, so would appreciate sitting outside once again.

We were among the last to leave!

Our bill came to €113.

Second visit

We ate there again before we left.

Our bill came to €196, so you know we enjoyed ourselves. This was our highest restaurant bill ever in Cannes.

Starters

No prizes for guessing what I had.

FBH enjoyed a beautiful plate of scallops flambéed in Calvados. No skimping here: the plate was full.

Both are among the prix fixe dishes.

Mains

We both ordered a delightful and memorable plate of squid à la Provençale, accompanied by small slices of the best chorizo I’ve ever had. I don’t know if Jean-Louis bought it at the market or if he has a specialist supplier, but the taste profile was out of this world. Sometimes chorizo has a slight tangy or sour taste, but this was rich and smoky with paprika undertones.

As with most of Jean-Louis’s other dishes, this also came with a small side salad.

Dessert

We both had French cheese assortments, which were excellent.

Wine

We enjoyed two bottles of Bandol: La Bastide Blanche 2015.

Hospitality

Jean-Louis and his putative ‘successor’ once again made us feel very welcome.

Both asked during and after each course whether we enjoyed what we had. Yes, we most certainly did enjoy all of the courses! We were members of the Clean Plate Club!

Jean-Louis attention to his customers is top-notch. His assistant, the successor, is also attentive to customers’ needs.

After we finished our second bottle of Bandol and had a bit of a pause, Jean-Louis came up to us and asked in the most congenial way, ‘And what can I get you to drink?’ I had Sambuca. FBH had brandy.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and look forward to going back, if all goes well for us and them, in 2021.

Additional notes

Judging from the photos on Le Hit’s Facebook page, we are far from being the only customers to have had a delightful time there.

A couple from nearby Mougins who commented on TripAdvisor in April 2019 were as enthralled with Le Hit as we were. An excerpt follows (translation in the original):

In short that happiness, a warm welcome, an irreproachable service by the Head waiter for a real meal composed of fresh ingredients, and simmered as at home.

The best part of all this is that you do not pay more than some crowded restaurants that have succumbed to sirens vacuum industrial products and reheated by a microwave attendant.

So my wife and I thought we were going to repeat the experience, to see if it was a stroke of luck, and we went back several times.

Well in the end, we are very satisfied, we can assure you that the quality is constant which is rare, not to say exceptional.

An authentic restaurant as we like, that does not cheat with its customers no false pretense, nor darling and even less junk food.

It has happened to us to exchange with other guests who share the taste for the true traditional and tasty food … but also that of the conviviality and the authenticity, in short all the opposite of the shameless and the eternal dissatisfied …

You can go there with our eyes closed, we, since this discovery, we return regularly !

Enjoy your meal in the Hit !

Betty & Hubert

https://www.tripadvisor.fr/ShowUserReviews-g187221-d2692906-r666949554-Le_Hit-Cannes_French_Riviera_Cote_d_Azur_Provence_Alpes_Cote_d_Azur.html#

You can get a better view of the interior courtesy of La Fourchette and can see autographs from the jazz musicians who play there on Friday — perhaps also Saturday — nights.

The unisex restroom is immaculate. It has three different notices asking customers to please leave it as clean as they found it.

Conclusion

Now you know why Le Hit is my favourite restaurant in Cannes.

Next week, we’ll look at FBH’s faves.