Finding a great burger in
isn't so easy. I know, I know, I know...burgers aren't French and they're not good for you (or the cow). Then again, neither is drinking 14 bottles of red wine at dinner...but do I say anything when you do that? Jamais! So I'm here to report that I've found what seems to be the perfect burger in Provence . It's at Cafe Mirabeau in St. Remy, where they have seven different versions to choose from. My favorite is the Cheeseburger Sauce au Roquefort, which comes topped with caramelized onion, bacon and tomato. For some reason, chef David Cabrol likes to put the Roquefort sauce on top of the bun, so this one you eat with a knife and fork. Meanwhile other burgers are topped with bacon, goat cheese, sliced Parmesan, egg--and there's even one with foie gras and Port wine sauce. The top of the line is the Super Maxi Cheese-Burger Royal, a whopping 360-gram egg-topped double burger. (Anyone care to do a calorie and fat count on that? I don't.) All the burgers at Mirabeau are served with a small green salad and wonderful thick-cut fries that always come out at the perfect temperature. If you ask, they're happy to bring you ketchup. Provence
Ok, so that's the good news. The bad news is that the burgers range in price from €14 to €22, roughly $18 to $30. Add a glass of wine, Coke Zero or beer--and a cup of coffee at the end--and you're looking at a fairly substational chunk of change...for a burger. On the other hand, I could send you to any number of restaurants around here where you'll pay two or three times that for a very-mediocre meal. And the the burgers are definitely whoppers so you can easily take half home (and yet somehow, that never happens). Life is short. Eat the burger.
Or don't. Mirabeau has a full menu, offering 12 large, lovely main-course salads, ten pastas, and an extensive grill menu of beef, pork, lamb, duck and sausage. Salads range from €10 to €14, pastas from €7 to €11, grilled dishes from €11 to €25 (but most are in the €13 to €15 range). Portions are large. They also have a weekday lunch special (€10.50), a charcuterie platter to nibble with drinks (€8), daily and weekend specials and a plat du jour. The wine list is small (four rosés, three reds, two whites, one
) and their house wine (by the pitcher or glass) is just fine. Champagne
Another thing I love about Mirabeau is the atmosphere. It's owned and run by Pascal and Remy Muller, a local father-and-son team, and they clearly set the festive tone. Remy is often working the terrace, flirting with women from age eight to 80, making puns in Franglais, offering to take photos of families, singing Beatles or sitcom songs and of course, waiting tables as well. Manager Sebastien Borromeo and servers Olivier and Cedric are equally charming. But they're all serious restaurant people who make sure you get hot food hot and cold food cold and like what you get. You want to chat? They'll chat. You want to be left alone? Pas de probleme. Everyone here speaks at least some English and they seem to enjoy doing it.
Mirabeau is the kind of place where you can eat alone and feel totally at ease. Or you can show up with a group of 12 and they'll shove tables around to accomodate you. You can reserve but you don't have to. I never go in the morning but they serve a nice breakfast, I'm told--and I often see people lingering over coffee on the terrace, reading the paper, enjoying the late-morning sun and free WiFi. They have a loyal, local clientele but they treat strangers just as warmly.
My friend Olivier, who always orders dessert, recommends the chocolate lava cake with chantilly and ice cream or the Cafe Gourmand: a small dark coffee served with a sampling of little sweets.
The restaurant is on winter hours until March, which means dinner is served weekends only. Meanwhile breakfast (eggs, bacon, omelettes, waffles, bakery) and lunch are served daily, year round. If you go, please tell them Julie from Provence Post sent you. Thanks!
3 blvd. Mirabeau
St. Remy de Provence
Photos: The Roquefort burger in all its saucy glory; Remy, his dad Pascal and the manager, Sabastien.