There was certainly some good eating throughout my work week in Nice. Even my work conference offered up some proper three course lunches (with wine!). On one night, a couple of colleagues and I managed to get a last minute table for dinner at La Merenda (which runs a “no telephone, no cards” policy), near the Cours Saleya. The tiny restaurant is packed with tables and you’ll be eating elbow-to-elbow with your neighbours. And I’m still not sure how they manage to churn out all those dishes in their tiny kitchen.
It turns out we got the last table for the last seating that night and we had to patiently wait our turn to see the chalkboard menu. Though service was brusque, they did answer our million questions about the menu and the local specialities offered on it. And they kindly let us split a large portion of Soupe au Pistou (pistou being the Niçoise version of pesto) by three to start! We had seen other patrons slurp up this magical elixir and yes, it’s as good as it looks. Cheese, ham, vegetables, basil…it’s all in there.
Beignets de Fleurs de Courgette were just that – battered courgette flowers. This was the first time I’ve ever had them not stuffed! They were fine but not particularly exciting; this does seem to be the way they’re prepared here in Nice though.
A Pâtes au Pistou (pasta with pistou) was perfectly al dente and bathed in a luxurious basil- and garlic-rich dressing.
Of all the mains available, we were all drawn to the Daube de Boeuf à la Provençal. What emerged was a hearty beef stew served with…chips? No, the texture was too smooth, too…wait, do I detect the flavour of chickpeas? The large golden chips sitting alongside our daube turned out to be panisses, fried cakes made of chickpea flour. I believe the flour is first cooked like polenta and when its cold and stiff, it’s sliced and fried. They originated down the coast in Marseille. They were beautiful and so good with the thick, wine-rich stew.
Desserts were also good. A Compote de Figues was sweet and simple with its dollop of fromage frais.
A Mousse au Chocolat was a little stiff but still went down easily. By this point, we were pushing the remnants of our desserts to our colleague with the largest appetite but even he was starting to have trouble. Oof.
To get a table in this tiny restaurant, you’ll need to book and to do so, you’ll need to pop into the restaurant (remember: no telephone!).
4 rue Raoul Bosio
As I mentioned previously though, not all was brilliant eating in Nice. Meals at Le Safari and Du Gesu were fine, if not spectacular, but our dinner at La Zucca Magica, Nice’s highly lauded vegetarian restaurant and which came recommended by a friend of a friend, was distinctly mediocre and unmemorable.
Back to the good. My favourite pizza place turned out to be this takeaway joint – Pili Pizza. Any pizza on the menu for €6,50. And they were excellent! Great crusts and very good quality toppings. I have no shame in saying that we even tried their kebab pizza – good stuff.
On our penultimate night in Nice, we all ordered pizzas and took them to the beach to eat by floodlight. It was brilliant.
24 rue Benoit Bunico
I spent my last day in Nice revisiting the Cours Saleya Market for the colours and smells and hustle and bustle.
I wanted to take lots with me but as my next stop was Barcelona (a very short work/play related trip and I won’t be blogging it this time), bringing perishables with me didn’t seem like the best idea.
Finally, a restaurant worth looking out for in nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer – that’s the final post in this short travel-eating series.