Le Diamant Noir, Nice 8

May 5, 2009

This small restaurant, run by a charming young couple, has been a favorite of ours since it opened two and a half years ago. Bejamin Bruno, the chef, is the youngest son of the long-time truffle king in our region, Bruno of Lorgues. All the cuisine before the dessert includes truffles in one form or another. In our previous two visits the truffles were the summer aestivum variety and we were disappointed in them, although the meals were enjoyable.

So on our return to the Côte d’Azur this spring we decided to make Le Diamant Noir our first stop before the winter Melanosporum truffles ran out. We knew that we would be paying a significant premium to have all Melanosporum truffles; in fact, the menu with them costs over twice as much as the basic menu.

The welcome on April 28, 2009, was warm as always; the restaurant looked much the same, but there was only one other diner that evening. Benjamin said that the season was « calm. » Fortunately, he has a prospering business catering weddings, dinner parties and other events. He also has a prepared meal takeaway shop in a more upscale neighborhood of Nice. We admired his catering truck parked outside.

We ordered glasses of the Pradere Champagne and a bottle of 2004 Domaine de Valmengaux, a nice red Bordeaux, which tasted to me more like a Côte de Rhône.

The first course of the new spring menu was
Espuma de pomme de terre à la truffe.

The warm, truffled potato foam was delicious. Toasts with slices of excellent truffled tomme de brebis (sheeps milk cheese) were served with it.

We were then served an extra course:

A six-minute soft-boiled egg had been breaded and fried. It was served on a bed of puréed peas and topped with truffles. The whole dish seemed bland. Benjamin told us later that the egg was overcooked and that, if it runs when opened, the truffle flavor is enhanced.

The next two courses were served together 
Salade de Roquette, Parmesan et Truffes
Le blinis au caviar de truffes façon diamant noir

The “caviar” on the blini was made entirely of truffles and was delicious. The white dots were whipped truffle cream. The arugula salad was nice, with just a touch of vinegar, but the slices of truffle on top did not add as much as the slices of good Parmesan cheese.

The fish course was 
Thon rouge mi cuit, wok de légumes à la truffe

The fusion concept here might have been good, but the stir-fried oriental vegetables and the truffles were dominated by an over-salted Bordelaise sauce. The tuna was cooked perfectly.

The main course was 
Suprême de volaille farci au foie gras

You can see two slices of chicken breast, with a chunk of foie gras in the middle, on top of a bed of tagliatelli and creamed celery root. It is all topped with a brown sauce and plenty of truffles. I enjoyed this course although it piled one form of richness on top of another and lacked finesse. The foie gras was lost in it. I think this shows up a weakness of Benjamin’s two truffle formula. Ideally, the truffles would have been included during the preparation of the celery root and the sauce; their flavor would have been better infused in the dish, but that may be difficult if the chef doesn’t know in advance which truffles are to be used.

The dessert was 
Verrine fraîcheur au citron

On the right is a fresh lemon pudding. In the middle, good vanilla ice cream with something crunchy and, on the left, a glass of cold lemoncello to finish things off. It was a nice dessert, but nothing special.

We enjoyed the meal; it would have been a bargain at the basic 50€ price, but at the premium 105€ level Benjamin needs to do more to ensure that the flavor of the good truffles really comes out.

Click on the month in blue to see our previous meals at Le Diamant Noir: March 2008, November 2007, April 2007, January 2007, December 2006.


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