Keisuke Matsushima, Nice 3

January 8, 2009

Even though Keisuke Matsushima is one of our preferred restaurants in Nice, we had not been there for well over a year when we returned on January 6, 2009. We ordered glasses of Champagne and looked at the menu. Three courses from the à la carte menu are offered at 35€, an extraordinary price for a restaurant with a Michelin star. (Half of the items carried supplements of 5, 10 or 15€.) At 50€ two glasses of wine, bottled water and coffee were included. We chose the tasting menu at 60€ without any idea of what we would get. We also ordered a bottle of 2005 Nuits Saint Georges from the small wine list on the menu. It came with a very modern label and was quite pleasant. (There is also a large wine list.)

The amuse-gueule was candied cherry tomatoes and micro-pissaladières. These tomatoes have been standard here since the start. They are not as sweet as they look, but usually have more coarse salt than they did tonight.kma

The first course was
Foie gras de canard du Gers poêlé, artichauts épineux sautés, salade riquette, sirop de banyuls

A freshly sautéed duck foie gras was served on a bed of braised slices of seasonal spiny artichokes with a sauce of Banyuls, the sweet wine from the Mediterranean coast near the Spanish border. There were crispy artichoke chips on a salad of small arugula. I cannot remember having the foie gras -artichoke combination before, but it works well in view of the slightly sweet earthiness of the artichokes.

Our second course was
Saumon d’Ecosse
en escalope cuit aller-retour, ragoût de lentilles vertes à la niçoise, émulsion de WASABI
The Scottish salmon was top quality with a nice flavor, enhanced by the very quick searing on both sides. The bed of lentils underneath added sustance without competing. It was not evident why the menu called them à la niçoise. The flavor of the wasabe foam was barely noticable

The main course was
Gibiers en croûte, purée de topinambours, sauce poivrade

In the center of my half of the pastry crust ball you can see a chunk of venison. Around it is a forcemeat of ground wild boar, chestnuts and other appropriate ingredients.  Alongside are a fricassée of wild mushrooms, a purée of Jerusalem artichokes and some tart berries. This dish was very rich, appropriate for a rainy winter evening. The purée added appropriate lightness.

My dessert was
Ananas en carpaccio, sorbet pina colada.

Thin fresh pineapple slices were served with pomegranate and papaya seeds and piña colada ice cream. Kei has a passion for pineapple and I am surprised that we only found it in the dessert. As I like tropical fruits, I enjoyed this.

Linda’s dessert was
Orange espuma, salade à l’huile d’olive, son sorbet au gingembre

Orange slices were served in olive oil with ginger ice cream.

The mignardises were financières and a fruit gel.

The meal had been enjoyable and a real bargain. It was not really a tasting menu as the courses were full sized off the à la carte menu; the ingredients were first rate and the cooking imaginative. Kei announced the 35€ menu, at both lunch and in the evening, in mid-December. Before that his prices were almost twice as high. Our blogpost from two years ago shows the regular menu at 65€, with tasting menus at 90€ and 130€. The current menu is to celebrate the sixth anniversary of his restaurant so it probably will not be permanent. The cuisine has been simplified to its great advantage. The fine products are enhanced and not disguised, a further application of Japanese philosophy to French cuisine.

Kei came by our table twice during the meal. He told us that the restaurant is usually full, although it was only half full on this rainy Tuesday evening. I asked him about the report that he would open a Japanese restaurant in Nice and a French one in Tokyo. He confirmed that they were on the way and would be run by former collaborators. He will stay where he is. He also has various current projects such as a monthly Saturday cooking school and planning good nutritious menus for the Nice soccer team. Stay tuned.

To see our last two meals at Keisuke Matsushima, click here and here.

For news of what Kei is up to and current menus go to his blog; he doesn’t keep his website up to date.

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