TRAFFIC, TRAINS AND TRAINEES

Le Verger des Kouros, Qtr 'Les Cauvets' RN97, Cuers 04 94 28 50 17

The Verger des Kouros is probably the best value great cuisine you'll taste in our area, so it's definitely worth, as the restaurant books say, "making a detour" next time you're down in the Var.

In spring/summer/autumn (we last ate outside there mid-November) the very pretty vine-draped terrace is well designed with a far view across the vineyard-chequered valley to the magnificent Maures beyond. Perfection is only marred slightly by the drone of traffic from the nearby motorway and the RN97. (Maybe I'm too picky - I noticed that our fellow French diners didn't seem to register the noise at all. I put this down to the fact that our Gallic cousins were brought up to eat their packed lunches beside their cars within 10 cms of the RN7 on their summer route du soleil, and, when back in Paris, they happily sip their noisettes shouting to each other in pavement cafés, over the sound of motors revving up to tackle the ironically named Place de la Concorde.)

An additional worry is that the sound pollution may yet be further tainted in a few years' time, when the most likely route for the new Marseille-Nice TGV cuts through the middle of the patchwork plain below and therefore through virtually every one of the many wine estates in this prolific Côtes de Provence-growing-area.

So now is definitely the time to take advantage of the winter ambience inside the dining room where the lack of traffic noise means you can concentrate on enjoying the great cooking and happy, bright service. But once you've tried it, you're bound to go back in summer, too... we are drawn back, again and again, in all seasons.

This restaurant, which isn't as well known - or anywhere as expensive - as the nearby starred Lingousto (which I've always felt over-rated), is run by three Greek brothers, and though the food has a slight Hellenistic influence, it is well-sourced local produce treated with extraordinary creativity and lightness. It's absolutely terrific value at lunchtime, with the 3 course, no-choice, verbally delivered menu at 16 euros. Last time we went that consisted of a tempura of vegetables on a brochette with a feta 'baclava', followed by meltingly rich salmon on a pissalardière, then roasted apricots with an absolutely delicious pannacotta. The wine list is good value too, starting at 17 euros from local soon-to-be-TGV- track domaines. There is a more expensive, but still brilliant value gastronomic menu - at €31 for 4 courses, which are all very light - there was a choice of pan-fried foie gras or pintadeau for the main course, and the extra course consisted of two really tasty St-Jacques toasted in ginger and sesame, on a paté of olives.

They change their menu very regularly, which is necessary, since their clientèle is made up of loyal regulars from Toulon and the nearby zones industrielles.

Our entertainment was greatly increased on a visit last summer, by a pretty new trainee girl waiter. Each time she came out from the dishing-up area, her tight black trousers displayed a new white floury mark, where she'd clearly been patted by a pastry chef on her pert derrière... Obviously 'hands-on training' at the Verger!

Anyway, it's seriously worth a visit: really good food for excellent prices. For which you can certainly put up with the hum of distant traffic. But just in case the chef takes a fancy to you, do make sure you wear white jeans!

Juliet Young

REVISITED in 06 and 07
No change in the great value, great cooking and friendly family atmosphere. They’ve opened another room upstairs, so it’s fuller, and service has slowed down a bit. Very popular, and with reason, definitely one of my favourites.


Copyright © 2007 Anglo-American Group of Provence