Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Home Cooking in Provence: La Table Alonso


In July, 2012 after five years in business, Gérard and Josette Alonso sold their popular restaurant Alonso, in Sorgues, certain they were ready to retire. (The couple original hails from Lyon and previously had La Table de Chaintré in Mâcon, Southern Burgundy.) But the Alonsos quickly got bored, they told me, so they bought a charming 17th-century home in the village of Aureille and two weeks later, opened it as a small B&B and table d’hôte called La Table Alonso.  

This pretty little village in the Alpilles Mountains--15 minutes south of Eygalières,  between Mouriès and Eyguières--has a crumbling castle, about 1500 residents and a stunning, almost-surreal setting…so by the time you actually find the restaurant you’ll feel you've already had a  taste of adventure. 

The Alonsos serve dinner on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights only…and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Depending on how many are in your group, you’ll most likely eat at the one large table with strangers, which of course becomes a festive party if everyone is in the mood. (In summer, there are 10 more seats in the garden.)  The very colorful French family who joined us at the table a month or so ago had driven almost an hour  to see  Gérard and Josette in their new digs. “We’ll go wherever the Alonsos are,’’ Madame told me. ‘’We’ve been big fans of theirs since Burgundy.’’

Gérard does all the cooking--you enter through his kitchen--and Josette serves. It’s a simple menu formula with just a couple choices.  For 38€, you get two amuse-bouche (we all loved the tiny cup of squash soup topped with a silky little slab of foie gras); then a starter (ours was seared, Japanese-style swordfish with shellfish and a wild mushroom salad); then  a choice of two main courses. The night I went with friends, the mains were roasted lamb with cèpes confit or roast chicken with summer truffles and truffle jus. Next comes a serve-yourself selection of terrific cheeses, a choice of desserts, tiny mignardises and coffee. Wines are extra and Josette is happy to help you choose. 

Gérard cooks with the seasons, buying vegetables at the market in nearby Maussane, seafood in Port Saint Louis, meats in Tarascon and poultry and cheese right in Aureille. The menu changes daily and all the breads are always home baked.

The whole scene is very warm, very casual and convivial, but the food is top-rate, fine- restaurant quality…and it’s fun to pop in to the rustic kitchen and watch the always-smiling chef do his thing. If navigating twisty mountain roads in the moonlight isn’t how you want to cap your evening,  Gérard and Josette have two fully renovated guestrooms, priced at just 70€ per night (including breakfast) year round. 

A couple hours chez Alonso is a lovely experience, unique in Provence. So if you can, go soon…because when summer rolls around, a seat at Gérard and Josette’s table will no doubt be the hottest ticket in town. And please tell them I sent you...

La Table Alonso
#22,  rue de la Poste
Aureille, France
04 90 55 79 07 
Email: restaurantalonso@orange.fr (French only)
Website: latablealonso.fr
Dinner: 38€ per person plus wine.
Guestrooms: 70€ per night, with breakfast.

Photos:  1. Home Alone: Gérard in his kitchen...no sous chef, no pastry chef, no dishwasher. 2. Gérard and Josette at Alonso at their last restaurant in Sorgues, between Avignon and Chateauneuf du Pape. They sold it in July, 2012. 3. The cozy 12 -seat dining room, with its thick stone walls and massive fireplace. 4. The roosters from the buffet in Sorgue made the move to Aureille.  5, 6. The pretty village of Aureille, in the sunshine and at sunset. 7. You've arrived! 8, 9. The two guestrooms above the restaurant rent for just 70€ per night, with breakfast. [Aureille daytime photo courtesy of villagesdefrance.com. Sunset photo courtesy of alpilles.fr.]

7 comments:

  1. Just sent an email request for lunch in May! I hope my French was OK, thanks to Google Translate. Thank you for the information.

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  2. This sounds amazing! And the photos are stunning. Must book this!

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  3. I just checked it out on google maps and it's pretty close to me. If you say it's good, then I'm going! Wanna go with me?

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  4. Julie you could not have said it better - now that the word is out I hope they have room for us next year!

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  5. 24/7 in France: Looks lovely - thanks!

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  6. Julie, I've decided my fantasy year in France (which I plan to make a reality) will revolve around your posts such as this which share such special destinations. Merci mille fois ... encore!

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  7. Sounds (and looks) delightful! I'm hoping to come with a group in june and definitely want to stop by...and meet you !

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