This is the fourth and final post on our trip to Provence two weeks ago.
On our last trip to Nice in May 2007, we fell in love with socca, which is chickpea flour in its most evolved form (a crispy pancake), and we had a good dinner at the restaurant Keisuke Matsushima. So last weekend, when we found ourselves in Nice again, we decided that rather than try something new, we’d again seek out Chez Rene for socca, and then we’d drop by Restaurant Saison, the latest restaurant by Monsieur Matsushima.
For lunch, Jon and I wound our way through Old Nice, looking for familiar landmarks until we found Chez Rene Socca, which looks the same as it did two years ago. At Saturday lunchtime, there was a serious queue, but it moved forward quickly, so it wasn’t long before we pigged out on two crispy, hot portions of socca (2.50 euros a portion) and then a slice of sweet onion pissaladiere. We asked for our pissaladiere to be heated up, but (no surprise) the ten seconds in the oven didn’t do much to improve their cold, slightly-stale taste. It was like eating cold pan pizza: strangely addictive, but guilt inducing.
For dinner, we tried out K. Matsushima’s latest venture, Restaurant Saison, which, unlike his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant, serves Japanese classics – sushi, udon, tempura – with a “twist.” It was a good way to end our trip to France.
First, the service was excellent. The restaurant opened for dinner at 7 pm, and when we arrived, we asked the maitre d’ to get us in and out by 8 pm because we had a plane to catch. Smoothly and without making us feel rushed, they sped up our order and somehow our dinner felt evenly paced.
The highlight of our meal was the carpaccio de daurade royal, which was comprised of silky sea bream (the dorade), crunchy bits of garlic (happily devoid of bitterness), thinly-sliced and pickled onion dressed in sesame oil, and crunchy salad greens. It was a beautiful mix of textures and flavours.
Most of the menu items are priced at around 15 euros. To feel pleasantly full, we ordered four dishes. The restaurant decor is pretty low-key, so the prices seem a little incongruous to the surroundings, but on the basis of excellent service and fresh, good-quality sushi (or sushi-inspired dishes), Saison was worth the money.
Chez Rene Socca, 2 rue Miralhéti, 06000 Vieux Nice, France; +33 (0)4 93 92 05 73
Restaurant Saison, 17 rue Gubernatis, 06000 Nice, France; +33 (o)4 93 85 69 04; closed Sunday and Monday.