I was lucky to get recommendations from a chef before heading to Nice — from Chris Deraiche, chef and co-owner of Ottawa’s The Wellington Gastropub, one of my favourite restaurants ever (to see why, click HERE).
Here are his two Niçoise favourites.
11ème Art (11 rue Meyerbeer)
While it is easy to see why a chef would love this restaurant, it is easy for people who just like to eat to love it too. The menu — Mediterranean / French, with an occasional Asian influence, and often changing — is very inventive and the kitchen makes the most of fresh local ingredients. You will find things like foie gras, salade Niçoise, scallops, risotto, loup de mer (wolf fish), and (often) a stunning crème brûlée. The Art in the name hints at the beauty that will be on your plate.
11ème Art has excellent wines, by the glass or bottle, and paired with your dishes. The staff are incredibly nice here (and by Canadian standards, not just French standards!). For lunch, try the plat du jour (10 Euro), and at dinner, one of the three different tasting menus (28, 39 or 52 Euro). If it isn’t too hot, sit on the terrace. For non-French speakers, the staff will explain everything in English for you.
Luc Salsedo (14 rue Maccarani)
Chef Luc Salsedo does wonders with Provençal cuisine. He changes the entire menu every ten days (and there are daily additions) to take advantage of whatever is best at the market (you can already see why other chefs love him). Chef Salsedo has worked at the Presidential residence in Paris (as part of his military service), and with Alain Ducasse and Franck Cerruti in Monaco.
You can choose dishes à la carte, or choose three for 44 Euro, or five for 65 Euro (or two dishes for weekday lunch for 25 Euro). There are three to five choices for entrées, main dishes and dessert, and a well-chosen wine list. You’ll find duck confit, fois gras, sea bream, and other deliciousness. And often a pain perdu (French toast, but better) for dessert.
Chef Salsedo offers a Saturday morning cooking class for 100 Euro, which includes breakfast, the class, and tastings.
The restaurant is tiny, and outside of the tourist area (you’ll need to walk much further away from the water than you’d think). Recommendations are strongly recommended, or go early.
And note something we learned the hard way … don’t expect to put a tip on your credit card bill after it has been run through. Preferably tip in cash, or let your server know what to add to the bill before s/he punches it in.
Have a favourite dish or eating spot in Nice? Please share!