T+L Reports: Garden Party, Provence-Style
Published: May 2009
Set in the sun-scorched landscape of bulls, pink flamingos, and stout white horses in the Camargue, Mas de la Chassagnette will go down as this summer's Provençal hot spot. The soaring whitewashed organic restaurant occupies a former sheepfold that's been rehabilitated with rattan ceilings, bay windows sliced into grids by iron mullions, and walls clad in laurel leaves. Chef and owner Jean-Luc Rabanel (formerly of Côté Garonne in the Aquitaine) commissioned a Parisian landscape architect to design La Chassagnette's other big attraction: a parterre of chest-high garden beds that border a cane-shaded dining terrace. The beds supply Rabanel with most of the herbs and vegetables he needs to compose his small-bite lunch dishes (sauté of ratte potatoes and spring onions; little pots of chilled aniseed-scented celery cream; tomato sorbet). In the evening, when the area's infamous mosquitoes descend, the scene moves inside, where a wood-fired grill and a state-of-the-art rotisserie turn out divinely simple fish, lamb, and milk-fed pork. Mas de la Chassagnette, Rte. de Sambuc, Arles; 33-4/90-97-26-96; lunch for two $80.