The terrace of 29 Place aux Huiles, MarseilleOn the corner of an attractive pedestrian square just off the Old Port, 29 Place aux Huiles has become a favourite since it opened in 2007. The reasons: affordable gourmet food, friendly service and a fantastic wine cellar.

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The interior is cosy, with exposed beams, stone walls, artwork from Asia and Africa and the array of wines proudly displayed in a glassed-in area at the heart of the dining room.

There are 2,000 of them to choose from and you don't need to eat in the restaurant to try them: a shop remains open by day to sell bottles to take home or wine by the glass along with plates of nibbles. In summer, the outdoor terrace is a good spot for people-watching.

The sommelier, Mickael Zortian, formerly worked at Le Louis XV in Paris with the superchef Alain Ducasse, while the head chef, Jérôme Anfray, was Lionel Lévy's deputy at Marseille's then Michelin-starred Une Table, au Sud.

His cuisine is mostly classic Mediterranean, often with an unexpected twist: you might find a a well-executed version of the traditional petits farcis provençaux (stuffed courgettes and other vegetables), a wondrously fresh sea bream filleted and stuffed with saffron rice or a deconstructed Vacherin, France's version of baked Alaska.

29 Place aux Huiles offers reasonably priced set menus at lunchtime and in the evening and a slightly more expensive tasting menu. There's no house wine en pichet (in the jug), though a good selection is offered by the glass.

Visited July 2010

 

 

Where: 29 place aux Huiles, 13001 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 33 26 44. Website for 29 Place aux Huiles (in French only).

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