3 Le Malt­hazar

France - - Bon Appétit -

Slot­ted into a back­street behind the old port, this bistro boasts oo­dles of French fi­nesse. At its helm is Michel Por­tos, a Mar­seille na­tive who had a long stint at the Miche­lin-starred Le Saint-james near Bordeaux be­fore set­ting up his own eatery on home soil. Yet Le Malt­hazar has no trace of fine-din­ing for­mal­ity; in­stead this neigh­bour­hood gem of­fers heart-warm­ing clas­sics matched with fine wines at rea­son­able prices.

The decor fea­tures pat­terned tiled floors, a sweep­ing ma­hogany bar and sepia walls crammed with gilded mir­rors and vin­tage posters. The at­mos­phere is re­laxed and con­vivial, bol­stered by chalk­boards scrawled with spe­cials, and ge­nial waiters who gal­lop by car­ry­ing high-held plates on fin­ger­tips.

Seated on a crim­son-red ban­quette, I or­der from the prix fixe menu (€32) and be­gin with a sim­ple plate of pars­leyflecked mush­rooms and salty pro­sciutto topped with a slowly baked, soft-cen­tred egg. Mains in­clude both roasted sea bass and beef steak, but I pre­fer the suprême de volaille – a ten­der breast of crispyskinned chicken fanned over but­tery veg­eta­bles drenched in wine-rich sauce. For dessert, the cle­men­tine cheese­cake is tempt­ing but I can­not re­sist the crème brûlée. Be­neath a scorched crust, its smooth, creamy cus­tard is a sweet fin­ish to a de­light­ful meal. Open all week noon-2pm, 8pm-10pm. Mains from €19. 19 Rue For­tia, 13001 Mar­seille Tel: (Fr) 4 91 33 42 46, malt­hazar.com

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