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Posts Tagged ‘Cote d’Azur’

Nice Baie des anges

la Baie des Anges in Nice

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.

Nice Renee Socca

Chez Rene Socca in Old Nice

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.

Nice Socca

une portion of socca at Chez Rene Socca

slices of pissaladiere from Chez Renee Socca

pissaladiere at Chez Rene Socca in Old Nice

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.

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Baie des Anges photo

Jon and I are back in London after a long weekend (the first of two May bank holidays) on the French Riviera. The weather was sunny, in the 70s and breezy. The water was, in fact, azure, and we ate at several excellent restaurants – the standouts being the two-Michelin-starred Keisuke Matsushima in Nice and Le Mirazur in Menton. Sometimes (i.e., when talking about French restaurants in France), the Guide Michelin gets things right, I guess.

To fund our eating adventures, we saved tons of money by staying in a cheap (80 euros a night) but clean hotel located in the pedestrian zone off the Place Massena in Nice. The rooms at the Hotel Regence were small, but very tidy and with spacious, modern bathrooms. It perfectly captured our priorities for a hotel – prime location, low price, good bathrooms.

We also were psyched that a TripAdvisor poster told us to ignore the taxis at the airport and instead travel to and from the Nice Cote d’Azur airport by hopping on the Number 98 bus, which costs 4 euros each way, takes only 20 minutes to reach the Old Town part of Nice, and runs along the sparkling-blue-turquoise waters of the Baie des Anges (see photo at top).

It was a rejuvenating three days, and while I wish we’d stayed longer to do a little shopping and soak in the atmosphere from a few more Riviera towns, I felt lucky to be able to hop over to the Riviera for a weekend.

Detailed posts to follow, bien sur.

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