Le Zinc d’Hugo, Aix-en-Province.

June, 2013.

This little place isn’t named in the Michelin guide, and I’m not sure it should be. But it is certainly in the top 10% of the huge welter of tiny restaurants in my sentimental favorite French city. It’s multiple kinds of intoxicating to wander the town’s little streets at lunchtime on a sunny day and try to decide where to eat. But you can easily make a mistake because every dazzlingly colorful little sidewalk charmer looks irresistible and most of them serve quite dreadful food.

A friend steered me into this place which has no tables outside. But sitting by the window we were almost alone. The waiter gave in easily to my insistence on speaking French, and willingly got into conversation about white wine to accompany my salmon tartare. He brought three opened bottles to the table, and I decided on a Loire, which he poured two glasses of. My friend wasn’t drinking, so I eventually downed them both. I was surprised that he didn’t charge for the wine at all.

The salmon tartare also surprised me a bit, maybe spoiled by what we do on the West Coast. It was set on a bed of squashed avocado and chopped to the size of split peas. Tasty but I thought excessively lemony. My friend’s foie gras was creamy and I think marinated in something that tasted of fig.

Overall reasonable food, a refreshing willingness to indulge in a slightly academic-sounding cuisine and enology, and a pretty good value considering the alternatives. 7.2/7.8/6.5/7.5

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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