le rhul, marseille

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expensive but authentic seafood in marseille. the guidebooks in marseille all hold recommendations of trying bouillabaisse, a local specialty of fish soup. it’s a bit different from what you’d expect if you usually have it as a starter, as the local version is an expensive main course, usually cooked using 5-12 types of fish into a cloudy dark brown soup that is dished up separately from the fish cooked in it. the fish is usually then filleted and deboned and served on the side.

there are apparently 11 restaurants that conform to the Charte de la Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, which I essentially think of as the bar for fish restaurants. it was apparently created in order to standardize the definition of bouillabaisse, and la rhul is one of the 9 that are in marseille itself.

this is an expensive meal, especially for a fish soup, so do not expect it to be cheap. good bouillabaisse apparently costs upwards from 40€ per person.

at the restaurant, we started with melba toast and tapenade, which is apparently another marseille specialty. it was very tasty, and with the gorgeous view from the restaurant over the coast – made for a brilliant start of the meal. we shared a starter of calamari that was well-seasoned, and quite generous. very tasty.

I had the main of bouillabaisse, and my partner had the lobster. the soup wasn’t really as fishy or as rich as I expected, and actually came really bland. since I’ve never had it before – in this manner anyway – I’m not sure if it was meant to be like this, but it was nothing that salt and pepper couldn’t save. in fact, it became quite amazingly tasty with the addition of salt. the various fish were slightly tasteless and bland but the bouillabaisse had come with a bright orange aioli and croutons. you are meant to spread the aioli on the croutons, letting it soak in the soup before eating, which made it filling and a lot less bland. the aioli was really rather tasty.

my partner’s lobster, however, was the best dish on the table. at 30€, it was also cheaper than mine, and very good value for a whole one. it was firm, and sweet, and worthy of savouring. it was a very meaty lobster as well, and came with a sauce reminiscent of a thick lobster bisque. I can’t express how great this was.

in the end, I was glad to have tried bouillabaisse, though I still wonder if it is a construct for tourists rather than locals, and I wonder also that it was underseasoned especially since the rest of our food were so well-prepared. perhaps it really is meant to be that way. in any case, there are nine restaurants in marseille that you can try it, and I highly recommend the experience.

located at 269 Corniche J-F Kennedy, La Corniche – Stade Vélodrome, 13007 Marseille.
you must make reservations, telephone: 04 91 52 01 77 / 04 91 52 54 54

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