June 11, 2013
Chef Alexis Frasca, with his brother Serge in charge of the dining room, opened Agua last year. It is set one street back from the Old Port of Nice with its many types of yachts, including small commercial fishing boats which serve primarily restaurants.
Only local catch is served at Agua, no North Atlantic cod, Breton lobsters, Indian Ocean tuna, etc.
For our first of two meals, on January 5, 2013, Linda and I went to Agua for lunch with six others. The lunch offering was the plat du jour, plus dessert, for 14.50 €. It was shown by the front door on a slate covered with glass which reflected the building opposite and me taking the photo.
We were seated at a long wooden table for eight in the back corner of the dining room with a view across the bread and dessert counters into the kitchen.
The plat was a matelote, a traditional winter dish of fish and vegetables braised in fish stock and red wine.
This was excellent. The fish and clams were very fresh; the leek, endive and carrot seasonal. We sopped up all of the broth with our bread.
One drinks red wine with matelote.
This cabernet from the Languedoc was just right.
Dessert was an excellent tarte tatin with crème Chantilly.
We enjoyed the lunch, the relaxed ambience and the convivial company.
Linda and I returned to Agua for dinner almost five months later, on May 29, 2013. The evening menu was on a single large slate which is passed around to each table of diners after they arrive. This allows the offerings to be made according to the arrivals during the day.
The aimiable Serge explained some of the more obscure references.
We ordered a bottle of a well-known white wine from Cassis, on the coast just east of Marseille. A little bowl of Niçoise olives was brought for nibbling.
Linda’s first course was
La Poêlée de crevettes de la rade
These little shrimp were from the bay of Villefranche, just east of Nice. There were a lot of shells to pull off and the flavor didn’t build in the mouth until one had eaten quite a few, but it was worth the effort.
My starter was
Le “fritto misto”, sauce tartare ‘maison’
The varied seafood had been quickly fried with a light batter. The light, liquid tartar sauce helped to bring out the flavors.
Linda’s main course was
Le Pavé de Dorin poêlé avec legumes verts
Dorin is a local word for golden grey mullet, a prized variety of the varied mullet family. It had a superb flavor. The seasonal asparagus and peas were just right with it.
Le St Pierre braisé aux oignons rouges et suc de tomates,
The filets were cooked just right; the braising had kept them moist and rich without overcooking them. On the left you can see the head, which probably added flavor to the braising stock; it also contained the two prized cheeks. Under the filets on top was a pile of confit onions which added interest without being too strong. In back is a mound of very creamy, fresh polenta that helped absorb the sauce. The raw onion rings added a bit of crunch and spice. Excellent.
We shared a tarte aux fraises with crème Chantilly and ice cream for dessert
The seasonal strawberries were on top of a pistachio crème patisserie. Very good.
The ambience and most of the clientèle of Agua are that of a neighborhood bistro, although the prices are deservedly a bit higher. It is casual and relaxed, but the pace is not too slow. This is surprising as there are many tourist restaurants just a block away along the side of the Old Port with quite a different ambience. While the ingredients are top quality, this is not a chef who just lets them speak for themselves. His culinary talents enhance them beautifully. Bravissimo.