Allow me to introduce you to Brasserie Malherbe. It sits on the corner of the main road and one of the main lane-ways (there are two) in a small town in the South of France. The town is called La Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume. It’s mostly know for it’s devotion to Mary Magdalene who was at one time so revered in the area, and beyond, that her scull now leers out at you, as a feature of the crypt in their basilica.
The place is relaxed an unassuming. One thing, that I’ve noticed about French restaurants, is that they’re a little funny about table settings. If you sit down at a bare table and declare your intention to eat they will throw down a place mat and cutlery with an almost alarming efficiency. Conversely, don’t even think about trying to sit at a ready set table to have a drink. That’s simply not okay, and hell will probably freeze over before it is.
Restaurant Malherbe is no exception to this rule. When we arrive, we sit at a set table. We want to eat after all. The waiter informs us that they won’t be serving lunch for another half hour. “No problem” we say, “we can have a drink and wait”. “I’ll take away the settings” he says. “It’s no problem” we reply, “They can stay there, we’ll eat in half an hour”. He looks at us incredulously “I’ll take the settings” he replies. We shrug as the table settings are whisked away.
Half an hour and a bottle of wine later, the settings have miraculously appeared again in front of us. “So”, the waiter says, “what would you like to order?”
We order a chicken salad, and a Camembert salad. We aren’t super hungry. It will be fresh and light… Actually, it’s enormous. Hearty almost. And full of fun unexpected things, which is lucky. After a bottle of wine in half an hour. We’re pissed.
Look at them! They come with all the things. Lots of chicken. Delicious grated carrots and beets. Multiple coloured tomatoes. A whole wheel of camembert. A mini quiche. Crostini and tapenade. The obligatory bread basket. All topped off with a piece of rock melon.
At first i’m a little bit like “This is random” and then “Why is there a piece of rock melon lounging on my salad?” Then I stop being perturbed and start getting excited. Following that I feel grateful at the universe (and the restaurant kitchen) for bringing me salads that just keep on giving. They really do! It’s like the Mary Poppins bag of salads.
The last thing the salad gave me was a tummy ache. I can’t really blame it though, it was actually the fault of my own gluttony…
It was worth it.Brasserie Malherbe Place Malherbe, 83470, Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, France