This unassuming neighbourhood restaurant in the Old Town of Aix en Provence is easy to miss, but Le Comté d'Aix offers fantastic value in a city where dining out can be ruinous.
Click here to book a hotel in Aix en Provence
We were very sorry to hear in July 2015 that this lovely restaurant has closed its doors (and so, judging by reactions to the announcement, were the many Aixois who frequented the place). We wish Yannick and Jennifer all the best and are leaving this review in place in case they're persuaded back or try their luck in a new establishment.
The décor at Le Comté d'Aix is warm and rustic; nothing fancy. Expect exposed stonework walls and wood beams, typical provençal chairs with woven straw seats and paper tablecloths.
The dining room (pictured below) is long and narrow: there's no outside seating area and just two small tables by the window, one of them uncomfortably close to the front door. So this is not a place for outdoor summer dining or people-watching.
It's cosy in winter, of course, but the reason to go here is, simply, the food, and the price: in short, the essentials. Le Comté d'Aix offers no à la carte menu, just a prix fixe for lunch and dinner. And this is an absolute steal (unusually for France, it's no more expensive in the evening than at midday)
Chalked up on a blackboard brought to your table, the menu offers a choice of four starters, mains and desserts. They are basic but imaginative provençal dishes and, if you want to splash out, you can get oysters or lobster for a small supplement.
The line-up changes daily but is likely to feature one of the restaurant's most popular dishes: meltingly tender squid flambéed, Marseille style, in pastis.
Another tasty option we tried was light savoury eclairs stuffed with goat's cheese instead of cream. Main courses, including a fillet of pork or sea bream, were perfectly cooked and came with three vegetables.
Among the desserts was another of the restaurant's regular dishes, a mousse based on the ingredients of the calisson, Aix's traditional sweet.
We were too full to sample the mousse. But the chocolate croustillant and a brousse cheese - which disappointingly turned out not to be a brousse du Rove, the local speciality, but a mass-produced imitation - were less stellar. Overall, though, the quality of the meal was impressive.
Le Comté d'Aix offers only 34 covers and is run by a minimal staff - of two, in fact (rather like the not dissimilar L'Alcôve and Vintrépide, both also in Aix, or Fou de Fafa in Avignon). Yannick, who hails from the nearby town of Les Milles, is the chef and his wife, Jennifer looks after front of house though on our visit she was off on well-earned leave of absence in order to give birth to the couple's first child.
This very popular little restaurant is often full, especially in the evenings and, if you arrive at peak times, service can be slow. Advance booking is essential - and don't turn up late as your table won't wait for you.
Visited December 2011
Where: Le Comté d'Aix, 17 rue de la Couronne, 13100 Aix en Provence. Tel: (+33) 4 42 26 79 26