Don Camillo Creations, Nice 2

January 5, 2009

For many years our favorite restaurant in Nice was Don Camillo. The cuisine was beautifully executed Niçoise; the chef was Franck Cerruti; his wife, Veronique, ran the dining room; her father was the sommelier and her mother the pastry chef. Every year Jacques Gantié lamented in Nice-Matin that Michelin had not given Don Camillo a star. It was seldom full, but got by. Then, in 1996, Cerruti was hired by Alain Ducasse to take over as chef of the Louis XV in Monte Carlo, thus freeing up Ducasse for his renowned expansion. The restaurant has had several owners and chefs since; two years ago Marc Laville took it over and renamed it Don Camillo Creations indicating that the cuisine would be inventive. We had been once, over a year and a half ago, and decided it was time to try it again on December 27, 2008.

We started with glasses of Bollinger Champagne. A bowl of fresh good tapenade was put on the table with excellent breadsticks.

We selected from the basic menu at 43€ with five choices in each of three courses. There is also a five-course menu with no choices at 60€ and an eight-course one at 80€. We ordered a bottle of 2001 Robert Arnoux « Les Hautes Maizières » Vosne-Romanée from the small wine list. Lack of space for an adequate wine-cellar has always been a problem here, but this bottle was excellent.

Our amuse-gueule was one of the first course choices:
Pressé de foie gras, endive braise et confite, doigt de fée aux dattes et roquefort

The fresh foie gras terrine chunk was excellent and was set off nicely by the crunchy finger filled with Roquefort and date shards.

Linda’s first course was
Crabe croustillant, salade de légumes et jeunes pousses passés au wok, glace au sésame

On the upper left you see a crispy tempura fried crab; you could eat all of it, including the crunchy claws. It had a lovely crab flavor, but was not like the soft-shell crabs which we have in the NE US and which are now farmed in SE Asia or the smaller similar ones from the Adriatic. I had thought they were they only ones of which one could eat everything. We wanted to ask the maître d’Hôtel what kind of crab it was, but the restaurant had filled up and he was too busy to chat. The sushi was just freshly made rice and bean sprouts. The salad of wok-fried vegetables and the sesame ice cream were also good.

My first course was a substitution for the usual pasta offering, Pâtes au pistou, since fresh basil was not available in the market.

Parmesan risotto had been formed into a little round cake and seared, giving it a lovely crust. It was topped with a slice of the best Spanish ham. On the upper left you see a “truffle emulsion,” which was quite subtle; below it is a nice little salad of arugula and truffle slices. On the right is a dish of excellent sautéed cèpes. This dish was more complicated than I usually like, but since all the parts were distinct, it worked for me. 

Linda’s main course was
Noix de St-Jacques et ris de veau poêlé, soufflé aérien de pomme de terre, jus court et carottes rapés/glacés

The sweetbreads were thick and excellent. The boule of creamy potatoes wrapped in puff pastry was delicious. Linda thought that the scallops were a too rich confusion.

My main course was
L’exptionnel “pluma” de cochon pata negra, sa poitrine confite et grillée, tourbillon de pâte aux cèpes

A filet of the best Spanish pork had been seared and sliced. It was served with a chunk of braised and then crisped pork belly. On the left is a cylinder of bucatini or perciatelli or hollow spaghetti around some sautéed cèpes. I really liked this hearty dish.

Linda’s dessert was
Pomme au four, glace au sirop d’érable, noix de pécan sablées,pommes en caviar et en gauffre

This apple dessert was very good and not too sugary, a hallmark of a good dessert in her opinion.

My dessert was
Tarte à la noix de coco et banane flambée, glace Malaga et shot de pina colada

I didn’t get my little camera out in time to catch the banana coconut tarte being flambéed with rum. I like tropical fruits and enjoyed this dessert.

The mignardises were a fluffy strawberry marshmallow and a little baba au rhum.
Too sweet.

The meal was enjoyable, but I would like Laville’s cuisine more if he could tone down the complexity of his creations. The excellence of his products is hidden behind his need to show his inventiveness.

To see Gary and Varian’s previous blogposts on Don Camillo Creations click here.

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