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Restaurants In Nice - Anything Nice?


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Thank you for such fast responses to my first post on these forums. I will try to elaborate a little.

It was a typing error. I meant of course prize collection. Franck Thomas has won just about everything there is to win for a sommelier, excluding Meilleur Sommelier du Monde, which he may do next year when he represents France. Despite being quite young he was acting as a consultant to Carrefour already four years ago. This was quite disliked by other sommeliers on the Riviera who would have preferred to be in his place. He used to be sommelier at La Terasse in Juan-les-Pins.

I do not understand what Mr. Brown refers to when he says the place is not suited for the Vikings. Why would Chibois, Maximin, Bastide de Moustiers, Chantecler or Merenda be better? The reson for recommending the place was just because they are a big group of people. I think that if they call Delacourt, he will be able to prepare something special. No serious restaurant with less than fifty seats will let a group of people of eleven make selections a la carte when they arrive.

I will some other time elaborate further on the subject on why there should or should not be many choices on a restaurant.

As for the other restaurants mentioned above I have been to them more than once as well as to all the starred restaurants on the Riviera.

I think Maximin's food and restaurant is an embarrasment for someone with the status Maximin had eighteen years ago. Where is the joy, the glow and the inspiration? It is all gone. This is the only restuarnt of the above that I dout I will ever go to again.

I find Chibois as consistent as it is bad. Yes it is an extremely nice "cadre" but I cannot see why anyone would go there to eat great food. I have had courses at Chibois such as ravioli that tasted and looked like ready-made ravioli from Metro (The "Carrefour" for professionals). I always tend to get the uninteresting tail end on the fish when I order fish there. His food just lacks the true flavours of the ingredients he is using. Others say they go there in the summer for the good value at lunchtime. I have had no lunch menu there so I do not know. I try it a few times every year but I have been consistently disappointed with what I have eaten there. It does not merit its current rating in Michelin.

La Reserve is (too) expensive but better than Chibois and I find its two stars justified. In fact, when Cussac took charge of the restaurant, it was the first restaurant that I have been to that clearly merited two stars without having any. It can get windy with heavy rainfall in October and November and despite you sit inside it can be too much as the dining room at La Reserve basically sits on the ocean.

Bastide de Moustiers is a good restaurant serving authentic food. I have only good experiences from this restaurant, although nothing spectacular. I suspect that it can be irregular as people working for Ducasse move around quite often.

I recommended Parcours not only for its excellent value but mostly because I suspect they may be more service minded than elsewhere (due to the fact that they recently opened) and could do that little extra that a large group travelling together are looking for. I had that type of experience with Hostellerie Jerome in La Turbie when it had been opened for just six months or so. We where a group of 12-15 people and they really did a great meal. The menu was arranged in advanced and based on the best product available at the time.

Since the Viking does not enjoy Le Louis XV, I will not recommend it. I find it by far the best place for food in Southern France.

So maybe it was unfortunate that I, in my first post, wrote about a restaurant that you did not know about. But I wrote about it since it was not menioned in the thread. I hope Bux is not hinting that one has to recommend known and established restaurants for a certain number of occasion on these forums before so to speak get credibility.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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I was just on my way out when I read this. I will reply now to the one point

hope Bux is not hinting that one has to recommend known and established restaurants for a certain number of occasion on these forums before so to speak get credibility.

That was the furthest thing from my mind. It's just that when an anonymous first review appears, one does not know what credibility to give it or the reviewer. Over time that will change. We will learn more about your tastes and approach to food. We will learn by what you say about restaurants we know. We will learn by eating at the places you recommend. We will also learn by reading what others say about dining in the restaurants you recommend. If someone I trust says your opinion is good, it's natural that I will begin to trust it. As you post here, you will also build a reputation by what you say about food in general as well as what you say about specific restaurants. By the way, I agree with what you have to say about groups, restaurants, set menus for groups, etc. and will expand when I have time, but you should have some idea of my position from my earlier post. The subject of tasting menus has been discussed in the past elsewhere on eGullet and is always an interesting topic for me. Ultimately, it depends on the situation and the restaurant, but I have a prejudice for taking them when offered, although I also have an interest in trying the dish for which the restaurant may be known if it's a first visit. I look forward to this discussion although my time is tight this week and we're off on a trip starting this weekend.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Dear Jellybean,

It's good having another voice conversant with the Cote d'Azur. Your feelings about the highly-rated restaurants pretty much jibe with mine, particularly Maximin. He seems like a burned-out case.

The main reason I didn't agree with your recomendation for Parcours is that The Viking's group (which he described to me in a PM) is aiming higher than that. I suggested Jouni to him because it is very intimate, a refuge for foodies because you can talk to Jouni and his partner about restaurants all over the place. (Three weeks ago they shut down for an extra day to drive to el Bulli). Also Jouni does some serious cooking.

The tasting menu debate deserves a larger forum than this. It's always a hot topic and deserves to be reignited periodically since the membership keeps getting new people. But yes, Bux that's what I meant eating with one hand tied behind my back.

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Agree about Maximin; could not disagree more about Chibois. We have always enjoyed meals at the Bastide St Antoine, not just for the warmth of the welcome but for good ingredients, clean flavours and creative ideas -- a salad of thinly sliced courgettes, mushrooms topped with a quenelle of potato ice cream comes to mind. I have also dined at his Menton place, the Mirazur -- not as good as at Grasse, but not bad either.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Thanks to all who helped make the first trip with Mrs. Busboy and no children in years a smashing success, with their timely and accurate information. In hopes of adding further value to this thread, I will add a few notes of my own.

We arrived Wednesday afternoon and checked into the sterile Sofitel in what seemed, on a rainy day after a sleepless night, a grim little quartier, but which turned out to pleasant and convenient place to sleep. Air France had scheduled a later arrival for our luggage, so we slouched towards the Vielle Ville in travel clothes in hopes of getting a table at La Merenda. We arrived about 5:45 and the place was shut up tight, but when we went to the olive oil shop next door – where we bought some truly wonderful, fruity Italian oil, brand name “Fructuse” – he said someone would open up soon. We set up at a café down the street and once someone arrived to open it up we ducked a head in and were offered seats for either the 7:00 or 8:30 seating. We chose the 7, and by 7:15 had tucked into a great and – no one had mentioned this, but it was a pleasant surprise for our limited budget – very reasonably priced meal.

I had the courgette beignets – fine, if unexceptional -- and the oxtail and polenta, a wonderful, hearty plate on a rainy day made exceptional by the braising liquid, which seemed to have been reduced and strained into rich, winy sauce. My wife had nicely executed stuffed sardines, and the pasta with pesto, which drove us both a little crazy – having made pesto at home many times with basil literally minutes from the garden, why can’t we get our to taste like his? After, the waiter brought over a round of goat cheese of such power that the entire side of the restaurant smelled like a fromagerie for the brief seconds between the time the leaves in which it had been stored were unwrapped , and the time we finished wolfing the runny, gooey stuff down. The sight of two Americans eating it seemed to warm Franco-American relations, drawing approving smiles from the French couple to our left and a comment from the owner as he bid us good-by. We were too full for try dessert.

Thursday Universal Christian Plumail, a Michelin one-star on the edge of the old city, delivered a night of fresh, creative cooking. Stephanie maintains that the terrine of sweetbread and tongue of veal appetizer was the best dish we had in our four days on the Cote d’Azure, delicately spiced and textured, a refined variation on mousse, spiced up a touch with what appeared to be sun-dried tomatoes. Stephanie’s rougets were whole, tiny fish about the size of a goldfish, lashed sushi-like to an undercoating of fennel compote and accompanied by fava beans and a squid-ink sauce arranged into an art nouveau scroll across the plate. The whole dish was light and fresh, the texture of the beans and the crisp little fish complementing one another and tasting of Spring.

My main course was a monkfish tian with Sichuan peppercorns and diced pancetta, resting on a tasty, if mysterious, saffron cream (?) sauce about the density of pudding.

As an aside, the waiter turned us on to what he called “the white wine of Nice” AOC Bellet. Our Domaine de Toasc was rich, floral, crisp and reminded and, perhaps not surprisingly, somewhat reminiscent of a viogner or rousanne. I loved it, and was eager to seek it out at Robert Bessi, which was, alas, closed Saturday afternoon when we finally got by.

For Friday dinner, we were wise enough to follow Menton1’s advice and head to Villefranche to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean. We were also, however, dumb enough to forget his advice to visit Le Nautic for dinner. Of my meal at L’Oursin Bleu, I will say only that it was an expensive parody of French cooking. Fortunately, the sunset was stunning.

Finally, Saturday, though we went no place of note, was an incredibly satisfying day, food-wise, and a reminder that a region’s cooking isn’t just fine restaurants, it’s cafes and pizza joints, as well. We started with a little wine degustation at Cave de la Tour, Rue de la Tour, on the West edge of the old town. Like everything else that day, it was simple, inexpensive and charming. No grand crues were listed on the chalk board, but there were 10 or 15 selections at two Euros or under. The patron was friendly and we had a long Frenglish conversation about heat, local wines and the tipsy old guy who kept dancing through the store.

Never having eaten a sea urchin, we decided headed to Place Garibaldi, where we’d noticed a couple of cafés that seemed to move through fresh shellfish at a rapid clip each night. The sea urchins at Chez Pistol were delicious, I look forward to more. The oysters, however, were a revelation. Years ago, when Maine Belons were just finding their way to restaurant kitchens, I waited tables at Le Pavilon. Chef Cam spoke of them approvingly, but said they were not as good as those of his native Brittany – French Belons, he announced with great passion and a faraway look, “taste of the sea.” Last Saturday night, I found out what he meant.

Finally, we had something called a “violet.” The waiter maintained that it was a “sea potato” and that it is not an animal. It looks like the base, or root, of one of those odd sponge-like things that grows on the sea floor, about the size of a woman’s fist and the color of something that’s washed in with the tide. It arrives sliced in half, the grey/green skin concealing an off-white, cartaliginous interior which in turn shelters a molten center the color and consistency of egg yolks whipped with a bit of cream. This, you spoon into your mouth, so that you can taste something like seawater boiled down into a demi-glace and chilled. Even oysters that taste like the sea also taste like oysters. These guys didn’t taste like anything I’d ever had, briny, gooey, very vaguely fishy -- like a flavor intensifier that you’d add to another dish, almost too strong to eat by itself. It singlehandedly reduced my wife, myself and the six Japanese at the next table (who had also bought a round of tviolets) to perplexed concentration. Obviously, a return trip to Nice and further investigation is in order.

After the violets, we had a couple perfectly delightful wood oven-cooked pizzas, drizzled with spicy olive oil and washed down with that addictive local rosé, at La Petit Romarin in Place Rosetti. The waiter told us about his trip to the States in 1976 and charmed the local 4-year-old at the next table. The ice cream store next door had 100 flavors of ice cream, we tried six. Don’t get lavender; everything we tried was wonderful, though admittedly we did not try the beer, rosemary or tomato parfumes.

Since it was our last night in France, we closed with a brief pastisse degustation at the café across from the hotel, prolonging the feeling as long as we could.

If the Viking crew needs a bag-carrier, I’m available.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks, Busboy-- glad you enjoyed Nice-- it is a truly lovely place and of course, Villefranche is a place out of a movie set. Did you get to sample some of 'the Nicois fast food; e.g. Socca, Pan Bagnat, Pissaladiere-- hope you did-- these are special things originating and indigenous to Nice.

I never saw the olive oil placer by La Merenda-- the most famous one is Alziari, 2 blocks down, a really authentic and atmospheric place, and the oil is great-- after carrying it back a couple of years ago, we found it in Citarella in NYC for only a little higher price!!

I can't wait to get back to the Riviera myself-- have to wait until next year!

N.B. RobertBrown-- Robert, did you see the sparkling review of L'Univers? I have heard good things about it myself, will have to try it next time.

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Good grief, that's long.  My apologies.

I hope some of it is informative, as well.

Not from my point of view. I guess you don't get through many of my posts. :biggrin: I enjoyed all of your post on Nice. When we were there last, which was quite some time ago, we found the Sofitel characterless, but comfortable. The neighborhood was equally characterless, but I didn't think it was "grim." The Gounod, next door to the Sofitel has more character, but it's slightly down scale from the Sofitel and Mrs. B used to recommend it to those traveling on a more economical budget. I suspect she still does. It's a part of France we haven't been to in some time.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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.  Did you get to sample some of 'the Nicois fast food;  e.g. Socca, Pan Bagnat, Pissaladiere-- hope you did-- these are special things originating and indigenous to Nice. 

We did get some "fast food". I'm not sure the locals dip socca in harissa, but we did and it made a memorable breakfast. Sadly, my wife, after deciding to smuggle some into the country, forgot it at one of the many security checks. We also had pissaladiere several times, but did not nearly have enough time to try the many other local snacks. Damn you, work and responsibility!

Bux, I didn't make it clear, but once I got some sleep and the sun came out the next morning, what seemed a grim neighborhood was a quite pleasant location for coffee and the Nice Matin every morning and spontaneous pastisse degustations at night. I would like to have spent more time just hanging out, everyone I met was pleasant, in a good mood and tolerant of my French.

Regarding the Sofitel, unfortunately, a rainstorm flooded the hotel and, though our room escaped damage, the hallways had a significant mildew funk by the time we left. The Gounod seems to have become a Novotel, FYI.

One the subject of hotels, I meant to second Menton1's earlier recommendation of the Frisia in Beaulieu Sur Mer, where I stayed last year. In fact, I enjoyed that whole little town, though it does lock down at 11PM - tough if you're still on US time. Restaurant Les Agaves there did a great job, and I was sorry to see that they weren't open when I dropped by for lunch.

Robert, now I'm nervous. Given my relatively few posts here, especially restaurant reviews, not sure if my credibility (a la earlier Bux post) is sufficiently established for you to spend good money on my recommendation. :laugh:

PS: Anybody have any light to shed on Bellet wines and those mysterious violets?

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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The olive oil merchant next door to La Merenda co-operates with the restaurant; at lunch, at least, they bring a little "degustation" to every table, offering several varieties of their oil to taste. Because we buy in bulk from Alain Baussy, in Speracedes, we have never bought bottles of their oil, but it is tasty. The Alziari product is good but a bit bland for my tastes -- on the positive side, it is smooth and buttery, but it doesn't have a lot of deep flavour.

We regularly visit the Bellet winemakers, just to the north of Nice. Some of their products are very good value, especially if you buy from the vineyards themselves, but the production and quality are uneven from year to year. More recently we've enjoyed both whites and reds from Collet de Roustan and Domaine du Fogolar. See www.vinsdebellet.com.

The fishmonger we use in Mougins, Poissonerie Develay, sometimes has "vioulets" that answer to Busboy's description. The flavour is very strong, almost brutal. One is enough. Richard Olney frequently served these as starters, leaving me puzzled about how someone with such a fine palate would incorporate these into a meal.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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  • 2 weeks later...

The field narrows, and lots of good input has come my way which MIGHT cause major changes, and I'd love some further feedback!

Chantecler, Bastide de Moustiers and -Ste Antoine stand firm.

Jouni is booked for friday night, but if I was sure of getting into La Merenda (Because my colleagues have not been there and it's definetely different!) I might prefer the latter..

Robert: If you have some clout with Jouni, please advice me, and we'll get a special meal for the whole table.

We still hold the booking with Maximin in Vence, but lookingat the feedback here I'm inclined to change it to Parcours or Au Rendez Vous des Amis.

Finally: Plumail for saturday night?

Any of these restaurants that offer exceptional selection or value-concious wine lists?

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Ok Viking,

So you like some further feedback? Well here we go.

I went to Jouni a few days ago. I have heard about it previously but Robert made me curious to try it.

It is a very small restaurant. About the same size as Merenda, maybe larger because everytime I see Merenda I get slightly confused about the size.

The interior is sort of low budget but it is a fairly ok dining room, clean as you expect from a Nordic guy and with elegant interior although low budget. One could of course argue back and forth whether these remarks have any merit or not.

Over to the food. I went there because of the food. So the guy has worked at Louis XV and El Bulli? Well it is far from the first time I leave a restaurant wondering what the chef actually did at the restaurant he is said to have worked for. To summarize, I find the food just above average Riviera food. And that is not a very good score.

I will first explain in detail what we ate and then give a summary of what I think.

First we had a brochet of small gamberoni from San Remo. If someone does not know this, the Gamberoni from San Remo is legendary to gourmets on the Riviera. They are only fished outside the water of San Remo as there is a huge deep drop-off ouside San Remo where they stay. They are not found on the French side of the Mediterranean and consequently you can only buy them on the Italian markets. Beware however, they must be fresh, as after only a day or two they take on a sharper less interesting taste that some people comment as “a great iode taste” not knowing it is the mark of a not so fresh Gamberoni. A true fresh Gamberoni has a very perfumed almost sweet taste. Unless you are a professional with good contacts, you will have to get friendly with a fishmonger in Italy in order to get the ones that where fished during the night. They look like no other gamba or crevette/shrimp that I have seen and certainly do not taste like anything else. When fresh it looks like there is a small lamp lightning in their eyes and their antennas are intact. I think they are best eaten raw.

The gamberonis we had at Jouni were the smaller less expensive ones than the larger and almost mythic one that are red to purple in color when bought totally fresh. They were cooked all right and the brochet was a rosmary stick and it worked well. It was sitting on top of a puré of cepes and everything was drizzeld with an olive oil that I think was an Italian taggiasche olive oil (I did not ask). This was quite good and I got some expectations after this.

The next courses where much less inspiring. We had a cep risotto and a preparation of cod. The risotto tasted like a rice pudding, which in my opinion is about the worst compliment to give a risotto. The cepes where nicely cooked but tasted flat as I suspect that only oil was used to cook them. They also lacked seasoning. The cod dish was average and left no real memory (Not at all like a real Norwegian Kjempe-Torsk :biggrin:).

After that we had a veal chop with a “mish-mash timbale”. The veal was what you expect from any restaurant on the Riviera, as high quality veal is extremely easy to find, both on the French and Italian side. It was not the very best veal but it was good and cut from the best part, which is the fat side opposite to the side above the filet. The timbale on the plate was something I regret I ever ate. It was a round thing mixed of courgettes, onions and god knows what. I find this kind of preparation appalling. Why? Because it distroys the dish, it does not respect its ingredients and tasted blindly, you have no clue what you are eating. Furthermore, it wants to come up from your stomach once you have left the restaurant. These kinds of dishes make me wonder what people that have worked in great restaurants actually picked up while being there.

The desserts where in the same league. A chocolate tart was uninspiring with a brisée pate that was soaked. A tarte of figs just lacked interest because the taste of the figs were just masked with a lot of suger. I don’t understand my so many so stubbornly keep on adding so much suger to a fig, which is sweet enough to start with, that they end tasting figs. There is nothing tasting more of a fig than a fresh fig served with some wipped creme fraiche with maybe a little bit of suger in it, together with some lemon coulis or even better elder flower. If you want to be really inventive you make a jelly of the elder flower and do transparent lasagna with the figs.

Finally, the bread was mediocre. Vitually tasteless.

The price for three courses was 45 euros a head plus wine. By the way, the wine list is short but with some good selections.

Robert complained that the wine list at Parcours was a joke and I agree that it is short but the wine list at Jouni is not longer or better. The wine prices at Jouni are as steep as everywhere else on the French side of the Riviera.

To compare it with something, I do not think it is close to as good as Lou Cigalon in Valbonne was before and just after it got one star in the Michelin Guide and served food at the same or lower prices. This was before the chef at Lou Cigalon started to do pretty poor mousses and foams on everthing and started to charge as if it was a jet-set restaurant with a terrace and view of the sea, which it doesn’t have. I have more that once been there wondering why I didn’t bring my shaving gear.

Quite frankly, I would not recommend Jouni to you. I think the food was better at Parcours even though I would like to stress that I do not think Parcours is that exceptional. I just think that they may do something exceptional if you call them, but on the other hand so may Jouni. Taking into consideration that you have to pay for a poor location and a low budget interior I find prices at Jouni too steep. This guy needs to try much harder. There is a reason why the place is virtually empty at lunch. Everyone reading this should bear in mind that I am harsh when it comes to eating out as it hurts me to see people mess up the best of ingredients. Anyone who has been on the markets here knows how easy it is to get virtually anything you want.

But as I suppose that you may find it amusing to try a place run by a Nordic guy, I will be interested to read your notes after your trip. I write the above partly to lower your expectations a bit. Do not go there and think even for a second that you are going to eat things that even have the slightest resemblence to what Le Louis XV or El Bulli serve.

I cannot see how anyone could prefer a lunch at Maximin to one at Le Louis XV. The lunch menu at Le Louis XV is 90 euros with drinks included. The wines are simple but well selected by one of the most experienced sommeliers in France. You get an amuse that is usually very good, a choice of three starters, a choice of three main courses, the cheese trolley, and a dessert from the main dessert list. On top of this you get bread that is rivalled by few three-stars. I almost forgot about the cheese. At Louis XV they serve one of the greatest cheeses I have ever tasted. It is a very old Comté Cheese brought up Bernard Anthony. It is usually four years old or more and it is strong, has a perfume that is unbelivably concentrated but at the same time fragrant and elegant and not too strong (Yes it is strong but at the same time it is not). Despite being so old it is never dry like an old Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. It differs significantly from one vintage to another. Others that have had great Comtés may know this one as it is also served on some other three-star restaurants most notably in Paris. If you go to Le Louis XV for lunch please remember that the evening dress code does not apply. I have never been there in shorts which Mr. Peeters may be against but other than that one can have casual clothing. Well I suspect that my selling of Le Louis XV will not change your mind.

I would certainly be changing lunch at Maximin for Le Louis XV. It is not likely to end up being more expensive.

I have pretty low ratings on most of the Riviera restaurants. I would go as far to say that you would eat better at Bagatelle in Olso than at any other restaurant on the Riviera except for Le Louis XV.

You asked about restaurants with good wine selections in terms of value. It depends what you are looking for. If you want to go somewhere to drink wines for less than 80-100 euros that have a less than 3 times mark-up on purchase price, I have yet to find such a restaurant on the French side of the Riviera. In Italy there are a few, where they have great wine selections (even French), but food is really average. There is one restaurant that I can recommend in Italy as far as food is concerned. It is located just across the border in Bordighera and it is called Carletto. It has one star and I know of no restaurant that serves as fresh seafood as the two brother owners of this restaurant do. I have eaten raw langoustines here that where still alive on the plate. This restaurants is oddly located, has a boring interior and you have to love the freshness of seafood to appreciate the simple cuisine of this restaurant. There is always fresh Gamberoni on the menu and the olive oil from a neighbour of one of the brothers is probably the best I have ever had. They have some very nice wines at mark-ups that leave me wondering if they have stolen the wines. The wines are virtually only Italian.

You used to be able to find treasures (Mostly Rhone and some Burgundy) at Le Louis XV at reasonable prices. For instance, just a few years ago they still had the Rayas 90 for 990 francs. The auction price at that time was about three times higher. Parker has given it 100 with remarks that he would trade his bottles only for 45 or 47 Petrus or Lafleur. They still have a few interesting wines at good value but it is not at all like before.

As for Plumail, the last time I was there was more than a year ago. It may be two years. His cooking leaves me indifferent. It is not very expensive. The wine list as I remember it is packed with what I would call boring wines.

I would just like to comment a bit on my remarks about Chibois as there was some diagreement. I stand by what I have written, which in essence says that he serves what I call industrial food, but I know at the same time that it is not the majority opinion. Last time I looked Chibois made 6 million euros in sales, or turnover as the British say, and slightly less than 10 % in net profit. That is pretty good. So I suppose his clients love what he is doing. At Chibois you may take the opportunity to try Domain Sorin from Bandol. It is a small producer of Bandol wines and they are made in new oak, which is quite unorthodox in Bandol. Some think this wine has seen to much oak but the oak does melt away after a few years and the result is quite interesting. It is usually sold at reasonable prices at Chibois. The 98 for example is a great vintage for Sorin.

This has become a pretty long post. Please forgive me. I just feel I have to comment on the Violets before I am finisihed. They do exist outside the medditerranen but there are species of them that are poisonous. I have tried to find an English word for it but it seems it does not exist. You can regularly find them on most markets on the Riviera and in Provence. Locals sometimes call them Figues de Mer. I think it is because they resemble a ripe semi squashed fig that has fallen down from a tree. Anyway, I have tried them a number of times but I find the taste, as others in this thread, to be quite difficult to appreciate.

I am sorry about this long post. I hope someone was able to read all of it.

Just for the record, I think the oil store next to Merenda is run by Dominique Le Stanc or his wife. So Viking, if they where not able to help you, you will have problems getting a table there.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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Jellybean, thanks for the additional information on the violets. It is perhaps indicative of their worth that they are so little known to this board -- were they equally obscure but as forwardly delightful as, say, truffles, I'm sure we would all know more. To me, regardless of their merits, they will always be the taste of four days on the Cote d'Azur that fell into my lap -- probaly four of 14 days I have spent on the road with my wife, alone, since the first child was born a decade-and-a-half ago and -- along with that overnight to NYC for the dead (midnight snack at Vaselka's, lunch on a hangover at Bouley)-- the most compelling. I look forward to the opprotunity to develope a dislike for them.

I'll leave it to Viking to digest your deconstruction od Jouani. But I will say that it conjured images of the old Monty Python skit, a dozen vikings with long blonde lockes, beards and horned helmets sitting aroung the restaurant table singing...

Spam, Spam Spam,Spam,

Spam, spam, Spam Spam.

Wonderful Spam, lovely Spam....

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Jellybean, we have had three meals at Jouni that have ranged from marvelous to okay, the less-pleasing one occurring at lunch where the four of us were the only clients. Overall, it is a fine and needed new address to an otherwise lacklustre Nice restaurant scene. Jouni buys his seafood in the covered market in Ventimiglia where there is a fish section with five or six merchants, one of whom provides several Nice restaurants. What day of the week was your lunch? Did you have the panisse?

Just as one swallow doesn't make a summer, it doesn't make a restaurant, either. Because I was also impressed on several visits by the fresh seafood at Carletto in Bordighera, I recommended it to vmilor who subsequently lamented that the fish tasted old. Shit happens. What can I say?`And, by the way, Jouni is from Finland.

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Robert,

I don't doubt that you have had great meals at Jouni.

I was there on a Thursday and there is no excuse for the courses served. It is just that, the kind of main course we had is totally unaccpetable from someone with the background of this guy. I know as well as you that one meal does not make a restaurant. I will certainly go there again and I think as you that, not only the Nice restaurant scene, but the whole Riviera restaurant scene is in need of new restaurants. But after what I had there, he has a long and steep uphill road to walk to make me recommend him, since he in the short term at best will be just inconsistent.

We didn't have the panisse.

As I wrote, I wanted the Viking to bring down the expectations somewhat. They may have a nice surpise, but with the hausse of the place in this thread, the surprise seems likely to be less than nice.

As for Carletto, I have eaten there more than ten times over the last two years or so and about eighty percent of the meals have been very good. I have also had less than good fish there. It has been Loup or Sea Bass from the Mediterranean that had a somewhat muddy and earthy taste. This is a problem with wild Loup from the Mediterranean. It is not allways perfect. That is life unfortunately.

Yeah, I heard that Jouni is from Finland, that is why I remarked that he is a Nordic guy. Finland is one of the five Nordic countries.

And by the way, there are three fish suppliers on the market in Ventimiglia if you take away the guy irregulary standing in front of the main entrance.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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JB, I woldn't go quite so far to call any of my meals at Jouni great. One was thoroughly enjoyable, one very nice, and the third okay. I suggested it for Viking and his group because I believe that Jouni will put forth his best effort and he and his partner Giovanni are ardent, well-informed gastronomes and enjoyable conversationalists.

I do agree with you about the 90 euro lunch menu at Ducasse if it still offers the squab in offal sauce (Pigeonneau a la sauce des abats) which is extraordinary. I don't believe the restaurant offers as much as it did seven or eight years ago; you can easily see how it has trimmed back.

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I partly agree with you Robert in terms of the decline of the lunch menu at Le Louis XV over the years. It seemed that they scaled down slightly on lunches. However, I think that when they lost a star a little more than two and a half years ago everybody tried to improve what they where doing. Quite frankly, regardless of that I do not know of a restaurant on the Riviera that matches, regardless of menu, what they serve for lunch.

I have my doubts that it was a scale down by purpose, since I am pretty sure that Rainer foots most of the bill anyway, so there has probably been no reason to scale down. But at times I had the same feeling. I sometimes suspected that during the summer months some of the guys working there where more interested in heading to the beach as quickly as possible. But I honestly think it is different now. They seem to have one of the best teams ever in place.

They have over the last year and a half or so introduced a butter from a big tray that in my opinion is almost alone worth the visit. Butter is one of the things I am really crazy about and this butter is as close to a perfect butter that I have ever tasted. It is from Loire-Atlantique and has an extremely long taste but does not taste oxidized as some famous and extremely expensive butter do in my opinion.

I agree with you that the pigeon at Ducasse is quite something. Last time I had it a month ago, it was if possible better than ever in terms of execution.

There is one thing with Le Louis XV that I have forgotten to mention. One should avoid the place when Ducasse is around. Yes I am serious. If he is there and there are fairly many new people in the kitchen, the service can be painfully slow. The kitchen staff can be shit-scared of him. He usually sits in his small aquarium opposite the kitchen. Normally, he is there during the weekends. So avoid that if you don't like your desserts around midnight.

One of the best dishes I have ever had was a woodcock I had at Le Louis XV. It was a blockbuster dish. I almost rated it eleven out of ten points in the shock state I was in.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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  • 10 months later...

We had very nice dinners at both l'Univers de Christian Plumail http://www.christian-plumail.com/ and L' Âne Rouge http://www.anerougenice.com/ in July. Both are one-star restaurants, but not outrageously expensive.

l'Univers is on the edge of Vieux Nice and although the service was a bit rough at the beginning, it got a lot better when we engaged the captain. I had some of the sweetest lamb I've ever had. They also have some interesting Bellet wines, which I would recommend trying there or anywhere else in Nice.

L' Âne Rouge was totally delightful for us. It is located on the old port, and there is a nice view from the terrace and the front tables through the windows. I found the decor more pleasing than l'Univers, the service was very polished, and the food was great.

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At around 1100 in the morning, stop in at La Merenda (on the edge of the old section). The staff will be eating "family meal"; respectfully interrupt them and reserve your lunch. You can't do it any other way, because they don't have a phone. Bring cash, because they don't take credit cards. You'll have a good meal.

La Petite Maison, a stone's throw from La Merenda, has fine Niçois food. Fried squid can be exquisite.

There's usually a socca vendor in the Cours Saleya; this is a local product well worth trying if you haven't experienced it before.

Fenocchio, the ice cream shop in the old section, has an amazing array of flavours, including herbs (thyme, basil, etc.); black olive; bubble gum; etc. -- and most of it is reasonably well made.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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