On today’s eight-hour drive from Nice to Annecy, we naturally had to stop for lunch at some point but it was pretty much a toss up where since most of the spots midway were all tiny, unknown towns. I blame American TV for filling my head with wild imaginations of small-town crime and corruption – take one specific Knightrider episode where a crooked cop made up a traffic violation so he could blackmail one of the characters, or really any X-Files episode.
So it took me a few minutes to get over my discomfort in stopping at Chateau-Arnoux-Saint-Auban, a little town with a fancy-sounding name in the middle of nowhere, until I found they had a one Michelin-star restaurant. It was less than a minute’s walk from where we parked but, after checking out the menu and prices, it was too much for what we wanted to spend on lunch. How a place that charges €50 an entree can exist much less survive there is mind-boggling.
Option number two was also close by and didn’t look impressive at the onset, but as we were short on time we ended up walking in. When I saw the table settings and the sharply-dressed waiter’s snappy service I made a complete 180 and started investigating the menu more. The goût du jour was extremely affordable – humorously so compared to the other restaurant – but I didn’t give it too much thought at the time, more intent on choosing a decent a la carte option. After much thought I did end up with the set menu, ordering the courgette soup with foie gras creme, the filet of duck, and a pre-ordered molten chocolate cake. All for the whopping price of €19,50 including tax.
This is without a doubt one of the best bargains in this whole trip. Everything, as in everything, was delicious and I had the cleaned out plates to show for it. Absolutely great value, an opinion even Michelin agrees with, calling it une cuisine de qualité. Brilliant minds indeed.