You know I never, ever, ever, ever indulge in any hyperbole, so please believe me when I say that I have found the lightest, fluffiest, most exquisite, delicious, and BEST omelettes in the world in Buoux, a small village in the Luberon region of Provence. Okay, maybe I’m being a little sarcastic. But honest to goodness, cross my heart, these omelettes are amazing.
Our friend, Anna, recommended L’Etape du Promeneur before we left on vacation, saying they served such delicious omelettes that even she — a self-proclaimed egg avoider — returned multiple times to gobble them with abandon. Hmm, big build up. Could L’Etape live up to its reputation?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
This is the kind of French restaurant found in storybooks — a basic place, owned by a husband-wife team (he runs the front, she the kitchen), with a tiny menu that verges on plain — omelettes, salads — yet with food made with such love and care and skill that its simplicity becomes absolutely stunningly exquisite.
For example, the salad — one green (right, 3.50€) and one with tomatoes (left, 4.50€), which were simple yet extraordinary: dressed with just the right drizzle of herb vinaigrette, so that the leaves were coated but not drenched, and then dusted with sesame seeds and flaked almonds, each bite a delicate revelation of herbs. I tasted parsley and tarragon, but there were others hidden in the finely chopped bouquet.
The frites came in a huge, golden, crunchy pile, heaped onto a plate, perfumed with herbs — sage, rosemary — and hot enough to sting our fingertips. Hint: one order (4€) is more than enough for two people.
But enough about the supporting cast. What about the star of our show? The omelettes were light, fluffy, tender, savory with the barest hint of garlic, and rich with butter. The mushroom (photo top, 6.50€) was filled with earthy fungi, and lavished with more oh-so-finely chopped herbs. But the true show-stopper of the meal was the omelette aux fines herbes (photo above, 6.50€), so simple — just eggs, herbs, a hint of garlic, butter — yet so squishy, herby, buttery and delicious that I vowed to never again to eat an omelette anywhere else.
For dessert there was a homemade cheesecake, drizzled with Provencal honey (4€). “Does your wife do all the cooking?” I asked the kindly waiter/host/cashier/postcard vendor/owner. “Yes, I have that luck!” he said.
Here’s the view from our shaded table, a long, lazy stretch of fields, dotted with bales of hay, that seems to scream summer afternoon. You can linger here for a while, but don’t arrive too late for lunch — after 2pm the kitchen serves only charcuterie and desserts. L’Etape is also offers dinner — though we didn’t try it — ordered 24 hours in advance; choices include chicken tarragon, roast pig, and rabbit with mustard, among others.
L’Etape du Promeneur
tel: 04 90 04 60 21
Closed Tuesday evenings and Wednesdays
Update: Sadly, a blog reader has written to tell me that L’Etape du Promeneur closed its doors, as of summer 2012.