Jardins du Ranquet, Tornac
Tel: 33 4 66 77 51 63
Concierge.com's insider take:
In spite of a backcountry location that requires serious map-reading skills and a strong stomach for switchback mountain roads, the Demeures du Ranquet won a Michelin star in 2006. However, those with a certain notion of Michelin-starred glamour may be in for a shock when they arrive at this Gard Valley restaurant near Nîmes. The decor is utterly anonymous, as much Jersey Shore as it is Provençal. Touches like mismatched lamps can be charming or sloppy, depending on your perspective, but chef-owner Anne Marjourel has obviously dedicated all resources to the food. Most of the vegetables are grown in the biodynamic garden just outside the dining room. Dishes are exquisitely simple, but each ingredient is lovingly rendered. The menu changes often, but tends to be heavy on lamb. Spoon-tender lamb is served in a bowl, almost like a soup. An appetizer of cod, artichoke heart, and spinach is subtle and earthy, and the almost frighteningly tender baby lamb chops are redolent of wild rosemary and thyme. Definitely make reservations, and come early: This country inn closes down by 10 pm, and the otherwise friendly and attentive staff will not make efforts to disguise their eagerness to go home. The restaurant may still be going through ambience growing pains, but the food proves it to be a legend in the making.
Open Thursdays through Mondays noon to 1:30 pm and 8 to 9:30 pm.