Restaurant Review: Les Danaïdes Restaurant, Marseille

It was a question of passing out in the heat and collapsing onto the pavement or taking a table outside Les Danaïdes Restaurant. Such was our exhaustion having walked all the way up to Palais Longchamp and back from the Port in Marseille in the heat that we chose the restaurant as the tables were in the shade. The other diners appeared to be locals – most of who took their time with the lunch – reading a novel, smoking a cigarette or sipping a coffee before returning to their labours.

Water and glasses were placed on our table along with a menu by the waitress who popped back to take our order. Linda chose chicken and chips for old time’s sake-  the meal we had on our honeymoon in Paris back in 1982 – and I chose the Tunisian Salad – mainly because I could pronounce it. Well that and it included anchovies – which are a favourite.

The service was prompt and the food soon arrived – Linda’s chicken had an accompanying creamy mushroom sauce and a tomato sauce for the chips – which were well cooked and agreeably crisp. Unlike me Linda has very high standards when it comes to food – so when she announced the chicken to be very good – this was praise indeed. It was she said a wholesome meal. For that read four stars. For years I wrote restaurant reviews for newspapers – but I could only do this if Linda came and judged the food – I simply wrote about the wall paper or the background music. Luckily I was on safe ground with a salad which was heavy on the green beans and lettuce but made up for it with a creamy sauce, an egg and a hunk of tuna, several anchovies plus small tomatoes and finely cut cucumber. A meal that won’t sit heavy in the tum – and that gives you a feeling afterwards that you’ve been good and kept those holiday calories in check.

Our lunch was interrupted by a small group of Afro-beat performers with drums and symbols on a sort of cart. We could hear them coming down the road and their appearance in the square outside the restaurant was greeted with universal non interest by the French diners – but with excitement by us and the very few other tourists in the outdoor seating area. They performed backward flips, handstands and cartwheels in the road to the drum beat which was impossible to ignore. Later we realised they took their drum and performance road show around the streets on a daily basis passing the hat around to earn a modest living from the coins given by mainly tourists like us. It made me want to leap up and join them and get as fit and slim as the were until I remembered my dodgy knee. Perhaps not. Maybe Pilates for the over 70s.

Les Danaïdes Restaurant has a large interior with plusher seating along with the large number of outdoor tables where we sat under the shade of London plain trees. In dappled sunlight it was very pleasant to sit and watch the trams, cyclists, Voi scooters and people go by. All adding to the atmosphere of the incongruously named Stalingrad square – a byword for death and destruction – in contrast to the relaxed ambience of this very French suburban brasserie.

We paid 30 euros for the two main courses and had tap water for a drink.

Harry Mottram

Details of the restaurant at