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Eygaleries: Chez Bru

Phone: 33 (0)4 90 90 60 34

Reviewed by: kaydee from TN, review #1601

When: 2004

Classy bistro on the main street of a quiet and very attractive village in the Alpilles. Consider the menu dégustation!

Directions: On the main street of the village.

Chez Bru, photo by Kathy Wood

This was the second of two special meals that my former business partners treated our family to during our six-and-a-half month stay in Provence. (The other meal was at Oustau de Baumančire, so a pretty nice gift!) This review is taken from a letter I wrote my former boss, a real "foodie", about the meal and comparing it to our other meal at Oustau de Baumančire. We had lunch at Chez Bru on a Sunday afternoon in early December 2004. Our group included our 11-year old daughter Kelly.

Chez Bru is in the center of the small village of Eygalčries, right on the main street. There’s an ancient part of the village up on a hill, but the main village is now at the foot of the hill.

We ate in one of two dining rooms, by a sunny window looking out over the plane trees on the street and occasional pedestrians passing by. There Our dining room had about eight tables, most of which were occupied. The décor was very simple but quite modern… lots of white. The china was modern: simple white plates with interesting textures and angles that was effectively used to complement each presentation.

The meal and menu was upscale, more inovative but perhaps less complicated than what we had experienced six weeks before at Oustau de Baumančire. Our service was very good and the staff attended to us well, but there weren’t nearly as many people and they all seemed quite busy and not “there” quite as much as we experienced at Oustau de Baumančire. Courses were served efficiently by one person, not so much “presented” by a team of people. There wasn’t a separate sommelier and the selection of the wine wasn’t made a big event. The meal moved more quickly at Chez Bru. For example, we were presented our menus 15 minutes after we sat down at Chez Bru while at Oustau de Baumančire , I think it was a good 30 minutes before the menus arrived. I had the feeling that the guests at Chez Bru were there for a good lunch, not to spend most of the afternoon, which was the atmosphere at Oustau de Baumančire. Our lunch lasted about 2 hours at Chez Bru compared to 3-1/2 hours at Oustau de Baumančire. I didn’t feel rushed at Chez Bru, nor did I feel it was too drawn out at Oustau de Baumančire. The number of courses we had was about the same.

Charley and I decided to have the menu dégustation, which provided five official courses and just a few decisions. Charley selected a Sancerre wine, which was excellent. (A sample menu is available on the website.) Since this was a tasting menu, the portions were relatively small. There was also a “Chef’s Surprise” menu, but we weren’t quite that adventurous. The headwaiter (who spoke excellent English) worked with us to construct a simple meal for Kelly. She had veal and rice, beautifully presented and good! They also kindly brought her meal as soon as it was ready. Chez Bru wasn’t necessarily a family place, but I saw two younger children in the other room. A child seemed somehow more appropriate here.

When we arrived, they served us thin breadsticks with two dips and a plate of thinly-sliced parma ham. We had aperitifs. A bit later they served wonderful rolls. Then we got a cup of red pepper soup. They also served a red pepper soup at Oustau de Baumančire, but the Chez Bru soup was hot and the other was cold. Both were served in what seemed a little expresso cup. At Oustau de Baumančire, we ate the cold soup with a tiny spoon. At Chez Bru we drank the hot soup from the little cup.

Then we had an entrée that was a creamy mousseline with lobster, oysters, potatoes and truffles. This was the first time I’d had a dish that included truffles, but I couldn’t really distinguish the taste. This dish was kind of like a thick soup, very good.

The next course was a fish course and we were offered two choices. We both had the same thing: a thinly sliced scallop served between two thin slices of toasted bread with a sauce of spinach and ham.

There were two choices for the main course: one meat and then another fish. We decided to each get something different and then share. Charley had lamb in a delicious light sauce with a small side dish of creamy potatoes. I had lotte (which I learned was monkfish) with julienne vegetables and a soy-type sauce.

Our menu included a cheese course. There were maybe 15 cheeses to choose from (many fewer than at Oustau de Baumančire). At Oustau de Baumančire the waiter who served us the cheese knew a lot about cheese and was very helpful in selecting and arranging our cheeses. The young lady who served us cheese at Chez Bru didn’t speak much English or offer much help and we just kind of pointed to what we thought we might like. Kelly did have some cheese. The cheese was served with small rolls and a dark almost raisin-type bread.

Charley and I had a set dessert with our menu: a small wafer-type pastry filled with a light whipped chocolate with some type of red sorbet. The waiter worked with Kelly to choose their most luscious chocolate dessert. She got a soft chocolate cake with caramel sauce and soft white ice cream. She absolutely loved her dessert. The desserts were beautifully presented.

With our coffee we got some more desserts: beautiful chocolates, sweetly-seasoned nuts, and madeleine cakes. Kelly and Charley ate all of these. We were comfortably full and very satisfied.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Chez Bru. Had this been our only special meal, we would have been absolutely delighted. The menu options were a bit different, our portions smaller, and the food perhaps less “hearty” at Chez Bru. We thought the quality of the food was excellent at both places; in fact, Charley thought the food at Chez Bru was slightly better. The service was very good at Chez Bru, just less of it, not as many wait staff, not as much drama, not quite as much attention, a simpler style. The meal was approached as less of an “event” by the staff and the staff was clearly less experienced. One senior waiter and three younger people handled our room at Chez Bru. There were maybe twice as many staff at Oustau de Baumančire and several more senior people. We loved the simple environment of Chez Bru on the village street, but it was a definite contrast to the dramatic physical setting of Oustau de Baumančire down in its valley with the beautiful terrace and gardens.

We did not see our final bill, because it was charged to my former boss, but I suspect the lunch for the three of us (including aperitifs and wine) was about $250, considerably less than I know we paid at Oustau de Baumančire. Since our return home, I've read that Chez Bru was awarded its second Michelin star.

Note: Just outside the village is the tiny 12th century chapel of St. Sixte, well worth a visit. Friends warned us to be sure to take our valuables with us as there have been some incidents of theft in the small parking lot. We didn't have any problems or see anything suspicious, and definitely recommend a brief stop here before or after lunch at Chez Bru.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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