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L’Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel
“Making the natural even more natural”: this is the credo and challenge of this organic, Michelin-star-rated chef, who serves extraordinary tapas in his creative workshop, on tables without cloths!
Jean-Luc Rabanel has his own kitchen garden in the heart of the Camargue that he holds so dear. Customers can’t get enough of it.
Take note, this restaurant is where it’s at! It’s in a little street a stone’s throw from the collegiate church of Sainte-Trophime, right in the heart of Arles, that Jean Luc Rabanel opened his “atelier” (workshop). In this small, long and narrow dining room, with a very limited number of place settings, the décor is modern and rather spartan, and the tables, topped with a blend of cement and pigments, are not covered with cloths!
At Rabanel’s restaurant, we are at the southern school, i.e. that of the pleasure of living. There is desire in the air, a blissful smile on customers’ faces, and the chef and his assistants’ joy of cooking is tangible. The man has the wind in his sails all right.
But that’s not all. No more freelance work as international gastronomic consultant, always going from one plane to the next. This Gascon by birth has found himself, adopting Arles, its music and bullfights, the Camargue, its changeable skies and superb organic kitchen garden. This is where he sources most of his fruit and vegetables, transforming them into tapas or sushi that are as light and airy as they are tasty. There is no menu but a burst of suggestions that you discover bit by bit – suspense and surprises. With something of the god Pan about him, the man with the black locks offers his “gourmandise” generously – all at the price of a set meal equivalent to the cost of one dish on the menu of a two-star restaurant.
The whole “magical world” of his passion is available, from the most tart notes to the crispest or softest ones. We spoke of “tapas” for want of a better word: it is more a question of little Leibnizian monads, perfect units that suffice in themselves, and where the vegetable takes the lion’s share. Rabanel has, for example, created an exceptional five-tomato gazpacho.
The credo of this cuisine, which is highly technical whilst remaining fresh and inspired, is paradoxical, just like our modern world: “Making the natural even more natural”. How to preserve the flavours of a vegetable sourced from the garden and convey them intact to the plate? His little salad of crisp vegetables with fresh sardine on a sablé of bitter almond and parmesan is an absolute knockout. Followed by notes of kumbawa, a vegetable yoghurt, toast with rabbit liver, sesame mousse, tomato sorbet…
Everything is light and low-fat, environmentally friendly, of course, but above all terribly gourmet.
L’Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel
7, rue des Carmes
Tel: + 33 (04) 90 91 07 69
Menu « Créations »: 45 €
Menu « Emotions »: 75 €