An intimate evening in the hauteurs of Le Cannet.
Julian Rivituso has been the owner of Le Café de la Place for four years since the tragic murder of his father, Joseph, a friend of many a celebrity, in 2013. Since taking over the restaurant, Julian and his young and dynamic team have brought a new dynamic to the square that gives the restaurant its name.
I came across Le Café de la Place via instagram and, after flickering through several colourful photos of its beautifully presented dishes and the quaint locale, placed the restaurant at the top of my list for a dinner out with friends.
Tables are set up outside on the terrace and on the plaza – the restaurant occupies the majority of the square’s outdoor seating - but it is unfortunately too cold to dine outside on this evening. Nevertheless, it is easy to appreciate the beauty of the setting. Stretching down to the coast with the greenery of the les Fumades quartier to the left and views of the Var and the Esterel to the right, the panoramic balcony square possesses a tranquil and almost provincial atmosphere far removed from the bustle of Cannes.
Inside, a heavy velvet drape hangs above the entrance and matches the décor beyond of rough stone walls, antique-style light fittings and more crushed velvet curtains. It feels intimate and warm; there can’t be more than a dozen tables.
Julian spends several minutes at our table explaining the menu and making his recommendations. The salmon tartare marinated in lime with passion fruit and pickled vegetables (17€) catches my eye, but the four of us decide on sharing the fricassée of squid and chorizo served on squid ink risotto with a sweet pepper sauce as a starter (24€). It is perhaps the best dish of the night; luxurious and full-bodied, but also endlessly satisfying. For me, this is followed by a whole sea bass with basil mash, crunchy beets and a light sauce (32€). I have never eaten bass in this way – perfectly sliced from head to tail along the dorsal fin and opened in a beautiful butterfly.
Other main courses ordered include the salmon poached in coconut milk (26€); the slow-cooked Iberian pork presa presented in a crescent moon with heritage vegetables, celery mousseline and a honey flower sauce (26€); and a veal chop that Julian lights up in a flaming sauce to serve (32€). For dessert, we jointly opt for the café gourmand – forever favourite as I get to sample all on offer – which features a soft pistachio-flavoured cake, a mille-feuille meringue with lemon and yuzu sorbet, and a heavily endowed rum baba (10€).
The restaurant’s chef, Ben, came to Le Café de la Place after spending several seasons working as a chef on board luxury super yachts in the region. His crew and guests would have eaten well; his plates are well considered and there is all the evidence of a skilled and creative chef. He’s currently in the process of designing a new seasonal menu, which guests can discover from march onwards.
I’ll certainly be returning to this le Cannet address later in the year. Julian explains that during the spring and summer months, he hosts soirées in the restaurant and out on the square with live music and dancing. For romantic evenings or dinners with close friends, le café de la Place comes highly recommended.
314 Rue Saint Sauveur, Le Cannet