CANNES EATS: LE RELAIS DES SEMAILLES
Okay, hands up who knew Michelin was the French word for dessert. It derives from the latin ‘mich’ meaning sweet and ‘elin’ meaning fuckload. I kid, but when my boo and I dined at the charming and terribly romantic Le Relais des Semailles in Cannes' old town last weekend, a favourite with the folks at Le Guide Michelin, we were both ecstatic at the sheer number of sweet somethings sent over to our table.
You can perch yourself on cute outdoor tables on the steep cobbled streets of Le Suquet and people watch or relax in one of the intimate indoor spaces. Vintage collectibles, watercolour paintings, an assortment of shabby chic knick knacks, the interiors are not unlike a little antique shop.
You can order a la carte but if you like apps and zerts, Le Relais Des Semailles does a fabulous lunch “Le menu” which is French for set menu (truth). On offer are two, a simpler brunch menu for 24 euro and a decadent 35 euro menu that lists more options. Both are great value. We chose the latter.
We were served cold ratatouille with bread crisps soon after we were seated and an amuse bouche of sweet chopped cherry tomatoes with mozzarella foam and pesto. I have two things to say about this. First of, I have never met an amuse bouche I didn’t like. If you didn’t know it means ‘mouth amuser’, now you know. Secondly, foam is the ultimate in new food textures for lazy people. All the flavour without the pesky need to chew. I loved it. It is my new favourite way to eat mozzarella.
For my entree, I chose the cold foie gras and it was the best I’ve ever eaten, delicate and buttery, the fattiness nicely offset by the fresh salad leaves and candied turnips. Manan's gnocchi was exactly as gnocchi should be. Fluffy and melt in the mouth with the light, woody taste of summer truffles.
Between courses we were served a grapefruit and Campari sorbet. It was as cleansing as it was potent and happy making. My main, roast veal with baby potatoes and salvia juice was cooked simply and seasoned to perfection. We ordered our desserts and laughed about how it would be so hilarious if there was another palate cleanser between our mains and dessert. Before we knew it, two glasses filled with delicious pineapple compote and mascarpone appeared before us.
Really, any regular person would be happy if their meal ended there. But our actual desserts were on their way and they were excellent. The tartness of the raspberries countered the sweet nougatine and creamy yogurt sorbet terrifically but the mousse in the chocolate dessert was the absolute stand out.
Later, when we asked for our bill, we were promptly brought a plate of petit fours that included little cake squares, madeleines and tiny orange jellies. If this is what they call service, I’m a fan. On top of the treats, our server was warm and accommodating - swapping out meaty mains for vegetarian alternatives, knowledgeable and non intrusive. Only she serviced the entire restaurant, everything arrived promptly and every course was perfectly spaced.
In short, if you’re in Cannes now for the festival or anytime, and you’d like to woo a little somebody special, take them to lunch at Le Relais des Semailles. It's just the sort of place that'll do all the work for you.