Le Bistrot de la Marine, Cros de Cagnes

November 16, 2010

Jacques Maximin, now 62 years old, has been one of France’s most imaginative and inventive chefs.  Ferran Adrià regards him as a mentor. After ten years of starter jobs at various prestigious restaurants, he worked alongside two of the Côte d’Azur’s most famous chefs: two years with Roger Vergé at Le Moulin de Mougins and four with Jo Rostang at La Bonne Auberge. In 1978 he became chef of Le Chantecler at the legendary Negresco Hotel in Nice.  In two years he received a second Michelin star, the first hotel chef ever to achieve that rating. In 1982 Gault Millau declared him the best young chef in France. In 1989 he started his own restaurant in Nice which quickly gained two Michelin stars. From 1996 to 2007 he ran his restaurant from his house on the outskirts of Vence, retaining his two Michelin stars. Now he has bought Le Bistro de la Marine, which he reopened on October 9, 2010. Linda and I went there for dinner on October 20, 2010. 

The restaurant is set up in bistro fashion with marble top pedestal tables close together topped with biodegradable paper placemats and napkins.

We were welcomed by Madame Maximin, who took care to explain that this is a bistro. We ordered glasses of the house Leblanc Lenoir brut Champagne.

A little bowl of niçois olives was put on the table and very good bread was served.

The plates had been saved from Maximin’s restaurant at his house near Vence and bore his logo of an M in an olive branch.

Most people were ordering the 24€ prix fixe which offered two choices for two courses. We ordered from the very limited à la carte menu. We also ordered a bottle of 2009 Château Barthès Bandol blanc.

They say in Bandol that people talk about their red, drink their rosé and are not aware of the white. We enjoyed this regional wine, a mix of up to seven local white wine grapes, of which the most important is clairette.

Linda’s starter was
Carpaccio de mulet de pleine mer

Mullet is a fish which must be eaten very fresh. This was very good, dressed with a bit of olive oil and pepper.

My starter was  
Salade de Haddock à la niçoise

The haddock had been lightly cured with sea salt, black pepper and lemon juice. Good.

For our main course we shared
La Barbue pochée entière

This Mediterranean flounder is very tasty because it feeds on the bottom on small crustacians. The lightly poached whole fish was presented to us before fileting. It was served with a generous bowl of beurre blanc and delicious little steamed potatoes. Excellent. I think that poaching works better than the grilling of whole fresh fish that is so popular here.

We did not order dessert.

The service was friendly and efficient, although somewhat hurried. We had arrived at 7:50 and when we left, we could see 9:05 on the charming old clock tower of Cros de Cagnes.

The restaurant was full, although we had no trouble getting a reservation the day before. I hope that Jacques Maximin has now found a site where he can display his talents without the pressure of stars etc. We hope to go back often.



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