Flaveur, Nice

May 12, 2009

On May 8, 2009, Linda and I dined at Flaveur, a restaurant in central Nice that opened late last year with a fair amount of publicity. It is owned and run by three young partners who had last worked at Keisuke Matsushima. The two brothers who are the chefs had worked before that at Chantecler, the elder for six years alongside the talented Alain Llorca.

We were warmly greeted by the third partner, Xavier, who runs the dining room; he remembered us from Keisuke Matsushima. There are thirty seats in the dining room, but only 24 were occupied that night. Xavier told us that they like to keep it at 22 so the kitchen can keep up. We found the pace a bit slow, but without any unreasonable gaps.

We ordered glasses of the house champagnes: Henri Giraud “Esprit” for me and Ruinart Brut Rosé for Linda. An amuse-gueule of asparagus gazpacho with salmon cevice arrived.
This was seasonal and a refreshing opener. 

The à la carte menu is quite limited: three starters, three mains, a cheese and three desserts.  There is a 30€ Menu Flaveur with three of these specified or, our choice, a 50€ Menu Découverte with five courses to be decided by the chefs. It turned out that they were all from the à la carte menu. We ordered a bottle of 2006 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru “Morgeot” (Fernand et Laurent Pillot) which may have been the best 46€ bottle I have had in a restaurant. It had all the right Burgundy characteristics.

Our starter was
Saumon mi-cuit
Gelée de rougaï / Combawa

Rougaï is a spice mixture used on the French Indian Ocean island Réunion for cooking sausages. Combawa is a small strong citrus fruit from Réunion. The clear jelly on the lightly cooked salmon had a nice flavor, but its exotic origins were not obvious. Above is a mixture of diced avocado and what I think Xavier said was a Lebanese cheese. On top is a spoonful of tomato confit. We liked this dish.

The fish course was
Pêche Niçoise
Garniture méridionale / Bouillon de coquillages au basilic

With this course we have returned from exotica to very local cuisine. The fish you can see are rougets, nicely cooked, but without the crispy skin which would have made them excellent. There are some shrimp and mussels underneath. The seafood broth had a good flavor of fresh basil. The white chunks are gnocchi. We enjoyed this too.

The meat course was
Quasi de veau confit
Condiment clémentine-gambas / Ecrasée de cocos

This course was a big disappointment. I enjoy unusual combinations when they work, but a tangerine shrimp doesn’t work for me with braised loin of veal. If there had simply been the veal on top of the mashed coco beans, it would have been nice, but very ordinary. My disappointment was enhanced expectations after the success of the first two courses and by having just read Gary and Varian’s blogpost on Flaveur saying of their meat course: “
Gary rated it the best lamb of his life.”

The cheese course was
Brillat-Savarin / Cabrimont
Confit de clémentine moutardé / Piment d’Espellette

The classic triple-cream cheese from Normandy was perfectly ripe. The little wedge of firmer goats cheese was a nice contrast. The two condiments perked things up. The bread was excellent. A nice course.

The dessert was
Crème anone-kiwi
Fruits du soleil / Espuma mandarine

On the bottom is a mixture of kiwi and anone, a South American fruit, also grown in Réunion, sometimes called cinnamon apple. Then there is a layer of many diced fruits, on top is a tangerine flavored foam. This dessert was refreshing, but not very interesting.

The meal had started out very well, but it did not live up to its promise when we arrived at the meat course and the dessert. But it is clear that the chefs have talent and that the trio knows how to run a small restaurant. I am sure we will be back to try their new creations. The competition at this level in Nice is fierce and they will have to meet it.

On the way out I took a photo through the front window of the table we had just left.


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