aix place ramusThe place Ramus is one of those adorable hidden squares of the Old Town of Aix. It's tucked down an alleyway easy to miss, though it's just steps from the bustle of the Cours Mirabeau.

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The cobbled street is closed to traffic and the square - really more like two tiny linked open spaces - is relatively sheltered, even when, as was the case when we visited, a brisk mistral wind is blowing.

No surprise, then, that the place Ramus is packed with restaurants. But it has an intimate insider vibe unlike, say, the much more touristy Forum des Cardeurs. And Le Môme, since opening here in the summer of 2015, has become one of the most modish spots on it to meet and eat.

Persuaded by rave reviews by local bloggers, we headed over there just after noon on a sunny day in early May to find the whole outdoor terrace already booked (the indoor dining area is minuscule too).

But - like many restaurants in Aix - Le Môme maximises seating by managing to squeeze a couple of extra bistro tables on the pavement, one of which we bagged.

aix le mome terraceThere's no prix fixe (those lunchtime or evening set menus which often offer the best value in restaurants) and no wines by the carafe - though you can order them by the glass or half litre bottle.

So at first sight the prices look a little on the expensive side, but the portions are so generous that you're likely to be satisfied with just a main course.

Chalked up on a slate, the short menu changes regularly. Alexandre, the young owner, comes from Bonifacio, his wife, Esther, is from Aix and so the food is a mix of Corsican and provençal.

On that day there were three starters, three salad main courses and half a dozen hot dishes. Examples: burrantina (a mozzarella-like cheese speciality from Corsica and Southern Italy), tartare of salmon with citrus fruit and avocado, Cajun coconut curry, courgette and mint ravioli, stuffed provençal vegetables, cod with clementine. Or you can order a simple platter of charcuterie or cheese to share.

There's a bit of a rustic Corsican flavour (coppa, figatelli and other Corsican specialities are all likely to feature), but it's quite imaginative too, without being precious. Honest home cooking in other words. Meaty too - though you'll find a few fish options and a vegetarian could navigate through it at a pinch.

aix le mome burgerThe menu described the Corsican burger as "atomic". It was enormous, perfectly grilled and accompanied by a decent bun (not a cotton wool, Bic Mac one), a fried egg, salad, chips and - oddly but tastily - chestnut puree.

I've seen other reviews of this burger which mentioned different garnishes - so they may vary! In any case, the result was here excellent.

My salad came in a deep bowl piled high with coppa, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, rocket, tomatoes, mushroom, artichokes - and odd fried mini-ravioli that were supposed to be filled with goat's cheese and honey but turned out to be rather dry.

These were disappointing, but crusty bread and a beautiful fruity AOC Corsican olive oil helped compensate. The customised plates were a classy touch.

There was no room for the pecan pie cheesecake, mango crumble or other desserts, delicious though they sounded and no doubt tasted too.

This isn't haute cuisine: the main strengths of Le Môme are the friendly-casual welcome, outstanding fresh ingredients and overall sense of good value for money.

Also, probably, the buzzing atmosphere - though this was hard for us to gauge since we were sitting away from the main dining area.

A warning for disabled diners or families with small children: the WC at Le Môme is in the basement down a very steep spiral staircase. Still, it's typical of the thoughtful approach here that the restaurant has put padding on the low ceiling so that taller clients don't bump their heads!

By the way Le Môme means "the kid" (one of Edith Piaf's nicknames was La Môme) and is rather sweetly inspired by the fact that Esther was pregnant while the restaurant was being planned.

Visited May 2016

Where: Le Môme, 5 place Ramus, 13100 Aix en Provence. Tel: (+33) 4 42 22 16 39.

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