Mirazur, Menton 4

May 18, 2009

On May 13, 2009, Linda and I returned to Mirazur for lunch after a rewarding visit to the market in Ventimiglia. Surprisingly we had not been to Mirazur for nineteen months despite the success of our first two visits there and of the international acclaim the restaurant is receiving. It is too far from our house to go in the evening. Mirazur was included in the 50 Best Restaurants in the World for the first time this year at the surprising rank of 35th. Its chef, Mauro Colagreco, was declared 2009 Chef of the Year by Gault-Millau. The Michelin Guide renewed its one star in the 2009 edition. 

Mirazur had been closed for four months over the winter, but we were surprised to find no evidence of any physical changes. We were seated by the window with a view over villas below, the Mediterranean and Menton off to the right. There were three very long fresh grissini in a glass on the table. mra

Apéritifs were suggested: Linda had a glass of Taittinger Champagne and I had a house apéritif of Curaçao with Champagne. Four little amuse-gueules arrived even before the menu which was nice. The explanation was that the menu was so imposing that working on it would detract from the appetizers.

They included a little brick cone with vinegared vegetables, a mini-pissaladière, a cauliflower cream and a fresh anchovy.

The menu had a modest number of à la carte offerings, a very limited Menu Midi lunch menu for 35€, a Menu de Mer at 55€, a Menu Découverte with six courses for 55€, a Menu Dégustation, our choice, for 80€ and a blind Menu Carte Blanche for 95€. We ordered a bottle of 2007 Stéphane Montez « Les Grandes Chaillées » Condrieu and a half bottle of 2007 Coursodon Saint Joseph red.  

 

Three breads were put on our breadplate : a round cinnamon-almond bread, a light foccacia and a dark bread.

The first course was
Shot de pommes granny smith
soda d’algues douces

The seaweed foam was put on top at the table from a whipped cream siphon. It didn’t have much flavor but took the edge off of the diced apples providing a refreshing start to the meal.

Second
Langoustines pechées
Dashi et fleurs sauvages
 
Under the lovely flowers are two almost raw langoustines. Their delicate flavor is nicely enhanced by the flowers and the complementary dashi broth, which is poured on at the last minute so as not to wilt the petals.

Third
Salade d’asperge,
Sauce yaourt aux agrumes

This was very seasonal, with strips of large purple asparagus and pieces of smaller green asparagus. The yoghurt sauce with honey underneath and the dabs of lemon confit around were just right. The pieces of pink grapefruit and strips of lemon zest finished the citrus theme without adding too much acidity.

Fourth
Morilles blondes
Espuma de pomme de terre, févettes et ail des ours

The foam had the earthy flavor of new potatoes enhanced by wild garlic. It was a good bed for the spring morels. This was an excellent seasonal combination.

Fifth
Poisson de la pêche locale
Sauce fumée et oseille

When we ordered the menu, we were told that the fish of the day was loup de mer, or Mediterranean sea bass. But a while later we were told that cabaillaud, or cod, would be substituted. I find this very strange. I don’t know why this kitchen would even have fresh cod on hand. It comes from far away. There is plenty of fish available in the neighborhood. Just before arriving at Mirazur we bought a lovely fresh daurade in Ventimiglia’s excellent fish market. There were only eighteen people for lunch so there was no reason to run low. I have nothing against cod in its place, but it seemed wrong with the sorrel.

Sixth
Queue de porc croustillante
Rates écrasées, jus corsé et sauce raifort

The crunchy piece of pork skin with a layer of meat was a nice textural contrast with the mashed ratte potatoes. The ring of horseradish and meat sauce went well.

Seventh
Canard laqué au miso
Navet, radis noir et kumquat

The pink duck breast was good. Braised leg meat of the duck was inside the cylindrical package of greens. A turnip, a shallot and kumquat slices completed the presentation.

Eighth
Soupe de petits pois
Glace à la fleur de capucine

This little predessert was sensational. A cold purée of fresh spring peas was thinned and slightly sweetened by a scoop of ice cream made with nasturtium flowers. The flavors were exquisite. Too bad it was just a small predessert.
 

Ninth
Mille-feuille de chocolat blanc, yuzu
Crème wasabi

Two layers of white chocolate enclosed wild strawberries. The sorbet was made from yuzu, a trendy Japanese citrus. I did not detect any wasabe, or Japanese horseradish, flavor.

There was a plate of four excellent mignardises for each of us.
 

I finished with a coffee to keep me awake on the drive home.

Before the dessert the chef, Mauro Colagreco, came around to chat. He was quite relaxed and we were able to have a good conversation with him. He had obviously enjoyed his four months off in the winter, having spent most of it travelling around the world. During the stay in his native Argentina he became advisor to the kitchen of the elegant Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires. When there he said “In France they make the mistake of closing a fourteen-year-old in the four walls of a kitchen which does not allow him to discover the world. It is very important for a chef to have a wide background, to have travelled.” Colagreco particularly mentioned visiting the kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto last winter and some time at Manresa in California where “David is a good friend” and that Mirazur has recently established a third kitchen garden. After congratulating him on all the international recognition he has received, I said that his restaurant still seemed to be a very good one-star restaurant with one-star pricing etc. He replied that yes it is a one-star and that we will see what the future holds. I suggested that perhaps he needs to take more of an initiative in going upscale. He smiled. He said that Mirazur would close again in November and that he will enjoy spending time with his wife and their first child, due in September. I asked about his Carte Blanche Menu; he replied that it is really something for the evening, not for lunch.

One could not ask for a nicer setting than a table by the window with a view at Mirazur, but the inside tables seem somewhat gloomy and the whole building is unimpressive. The parking is not easy. It is possible for a chef to gain a second Michelin star without upgrading the ambience of his restaurant. Jean-Luc Rabanel in Arles just did it, but it is not the normal way. Colagreco may not want to invest more in Mirazur’s remote and seasonal location, although his cuisine has become anchored in Menton and its products.   

Our lunch was excellent, and a real bargain. Colagreco is obviously talented and energetic.  I think he likes the international spotlight and the association with other renowned young chefs. It will be interesting to see how things develop.

Before we left he sent out a bottle of olive oil flavored with Menton lemons for us to take home.

 

 

To see our first meal at Mirazur click here.

To see our second meal at Mirazur click here.

Mirazur’s website:
http://www.mirazur.fr

3 Responses to “Mirazur, Menton 4”

  1. ChuckEats Says:

    Thanks for the great review – it looks so tempting and I hope to have a chance to visit in 2010.

  2. Peni Says:

    Looks fantastic! We are hoping to visit the first week in October (next month) I will let you know if it’s still fabulous.

    Peni


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