Today however, the restaurant Pic is stronger then ever, drawing inspiration from its history, but is also pushing forward with cutting edge cuisine that’s ready for the future. This is a restaurant with a story to tell, a real one.
It all started in 1889 when Sophie Pic founded a little restaurant in a small village close to Valence (she later moved to a new location in Valence). For more than 30 years she toiled hard and built up a solid foundation for her son André to take over in 1920. He put the name Pic on the map, for it was he who won the third star for the first time in 1934. With the dawn of the war came serious problems that affected his health and eventually resulted in the loss of two stars in the short period of only four years. For most, this seemed much like the end of this family’s glory days.
His son Jacques eventually managed to regain the three stars, but died unexpectedly in 1993. This date marked another tragic turning point for the Pic’s. After yet another period during which the house suffered, Anne Sophie Pic took over with her husband David Sinapian in 1995. It was then that the couple decided to change things radically and started implementing considerable changes. Today, the efforts paid off: the restaurant holds the highest ratings in pretty much any guide and attracts customers from all over the world.
As one can see, the Michelin guide and the Pic family’s history are inextricably linked. To show how much of an influence this little red book had on the business and family, every single edition of the red guide is displayed at the entrance of the Maison Pic. Another object that might catch your attention is a black and white drawing of the three generations. As a whole, the interior looks classy and has an unmistakable feminine touch. The innumerable small details in the decoration make you see that this is a property run with a sense for detail. The same is the case with the food of Anne-Sophie.
The menu’s structure is reminiscent of Peter Goossens’ at Hof van Cleve. One part of it displays her very own creations, which are modern and always refined and feminine. Another section features dishes created by her father and grandfather. Despite all of the modernity, it is highly interesting to taste dishes created by each of the generations that held 3* here.
One of the signature dishes of her grandfather André is a dish of crayfish tails (an updated recipe of the one served at the restaurant in 1929!). It is gratinated with summer truffle and centres around an extract of lobster, cream and melted cheese. This is a dish that carefully manages to draw the fine line between the richness of the sauce and the freshness of the crayfish. A true masterpiece that shows how contemporary one can make a 90-year-old recipe taste. In the same league, sea bass with caviar, created by Anne Sophie Pic’s father, Jacques Pic in 1971 is akin to a French national treasure. It is a dish that comes with an awfully generous topping of caviar and a champagne sauce. With cooking like this, it is hard not to get excited: the produce is superb and cooked in with great attention to detail.
However, there are not only ‘oldies’ to be had here. A highly convincing dish created by Anne-Sophie is a medley of vegetables with Xérès vinegar, morels and foam of Parmigiano Reggiano on a pastry-base. The vegetables are seasoned perfectly and have the right amount of bite to them. They are complemented by the parmesan, adding depth and complexity to the dish, making this a masterpiece where flavours, textures and temperatures are perfectly balanced.
With cooking of such a high level it is hard to find mistakes. There are none, it seems. That in some way might be the only “weakness” of the restaurant Pic: It is run with such precision that is of a level that only a handful of restaurants around the world reach. It is a place that unites some of France’s rich heritage with one of French cooking’s most innovative minds. Pic is a restaurant that somehow manages to make a century look like a continuous line of development. It is a place that should be experienced by anyone, whether you take the collection menu, or any of the (less expensive) other menus, for it is simply that good.