Le Chantecler, Nice 2
December 23, 2013
On December 18, 2013, Linda and I returned to Le Chantecler for a holiday dinner. The Hôtel Negresco was decorated for Christmas, as was much of the center of Nice. We entered through the hotel’s 100-year-old ballroom with a Christmas tree formed from lighted water spray. Le Chantecler is at the left of the far end.
We were seated at a table with a view out onto the Promenade des Anglais. The Champagne cart was wheeled over to our table.
Three Champagnes were offered ; we chose glasses of Champagne de Sousa 3A, a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from three villages, which gives it interesting complexity. A little tray of festive hors d’œuvres arrived to go with it: an encapsulated oyster, a foie gras cube with dark chocolate icing and a chunk of pot-au-feu terrine.
These set the stage for a meal with exceptional luxury ingredients.
We had planned to order the large Menu Découverte, but the Menu Chantecler looked so good and appropriate for the season that we chose it. We ordered a bottle of 2009 Les Gravains Savigny-les- Beaune 1er Cru.
It had an elegant, but unassertive, flavor.
The amuse-gueule was broccoli-wasabi purée topped with smoked halibut and a sesame rice wafer.
Unusual and good, with just the right restrained amount of wasabi. This might have given the wrong impression of the kind of cuisine to follow.
The first menu course was
Foie gras de canard mi-cuit à la truffe,
fine gelée de consommé au vin du Jura,
brioche maison aux marrons de Berre les Alpes.
The duck foie gras, interleaved with black truffle slices, had a silky, unctuous texture and an elegant flavor. The chestnut brioche toast added crunchy substance and the candied chestnut a bit of variety.
Filet de bar au caviar Osciètre,
beurre blanc au Champagne, poêlée de cèpes et mousseline de topinambours au persil plat.
The piece of seabass was perfectly cooked, its flavor appropriately enhanced by the Champagne beurre blanc with caviar from Aquitaine. Underneath on the left were chopped cèpes. In the back was a purée of Jerusalem artichokes.
The main course was one of the traditional crown jewels of winter French cuisine:
Lièvre à la “Royale”,
filet rôti aux baies de genièvre,
civet de cuisses et roulade de foie gras,
cocotte de légumes d’hiver à la truffe
A hare is deboned and marinated in red wine enhanced with aromatics; it is then cooked slowly in the marinade for three hours. The meat is formed into a circle around a generous chunk of foie gras and covered with a rich, thick sauce made from the marinade, the blood and liver of the hare, cocoa and other enhancements. Alongside were braised winter root vegetables with black truffle shavings. Superb.
After the richness of the lièvre à la royale, we declined the optional cheese course.
The dessert was
Douceur aux marrons de Berre les Alpes,
crémeux acidulé au yuzu et sablé croustillant à la farine de châtaigne.
A chestnut purée inside a meringue coating was surrounded by an ornament of dark chocolate. It was on top of a chestnut cookie and dabs of yuzu cream which contrasted with the sweetness of the purée. Alongside was a scoop of chestnut ice cream.
We were very lucky to have come upon the holiday version of the Menu Chantecler, which was offered at its regular price. The cuisine is always at a high standard now at Le Chantecler, but this was exceptional. It celebrated the holidays with traditional luxury ingredients: an oyster, foie gras (three times), truffles (twice) and caviar. It also was seasonal with root vegetables and chestnuts. The ambience was also just right. I had noted the effect of the tourist season during our last meal at Le Chantecler, but on this evening a week before Christmas, the room was only half-full; the clientèle was well-dressed and ready for a fine meal. The service was just right, a bit over done, which fit into the occasion.
To see our meal at Le Chantecler in October, 2012, with some of the history of the place, click here.