A L’Ombre du Pin, Cagnes-sur-Mer

May 1, 2018

A L’Ombre du Pin opened in August 2016. It entered the Michelin Guide in 2018 with a plate, meaning “good cooking.” The chef and owner is Nicolas Navarro, who had a career in varied good restaurants and six years on the faculty of the Ecole Alain Ducasse. Linda and I joined Sandra and Peter at A L’Ombre du Pin for dinner on April 5, 2018.

The glassed-in dining room is built around the trunk of a large pine tree along the Promenade de la Plage in Cagnes-sur-Mer just west of Nice.

(I borrowed this midday photo from the restaurant’s Facebook page, which serves as its website. It does not show how the overhanging pine is really huge.)
Linda and Peter at our table, with the trunk of the pine tree behind him.

There is also a dining table, the kitchen and a bar up the stairs into the main building.

The genial dining room captain, Tony, seated us in a front corner table with a good view out to sea. We variously chose a kir royal, a simple kir and glasses of Champagne for our apéritifs. The menu is quite brief with three courses each for starters, mains and desserts. Among the four of us we chose all nine. We ordered a bottle of 2014 Château Barthès Red Bandol.

The amuse-gueule was quite complex: sautéed farfalle, peas, nuts, anchovy roe and a fish soup sauce.

This set up our palates.

Sandra and Linda’s first course was
Le foie confit au pain d’épices,
les navets primeurs au miel, chapelure amande/abricot

The rectangle of foie gras was luscious, with its fine cover of shredded apricots and almonds. The thin slices of spice bread on its side made a good contrast to the creaminess of the foie gras.  The spring turnips came in thin, raw slices and small cooked chunks, on a bed of honey emulsion. Tiny marigold leaves dressed the turnips. Excellent.

Peter had
En carpaccio citronné, maïs soufflé et câpres séchées,
oignons au vinaigre balsamique.

He said that the raw fish was fresh, good and not overly dressed with lemon juice. The dish was “wonderful.”

My starter was
Relevés d’anguille fumée et « graines » d’olives,
petites tomates confites le tout poudré de basilica.

A coil of crinkled ribbon pasta was dressed with confit tomatoes and smoked eel. Alongside were two mounds of buffalo milk ricotta. Olive oil, finely chopped basil and the seeds found inside olive pits were sprinkled over. Very good.

Sandra’s main course was
En aiguillettes pochées dans une soupe safranée,
pomme de terre et fenouil confit.

Strips of John Dory fish were poached in a saffron fish broth. They were dressed with potatoes, fennel and tomatoes.  

Linda had
En filets croustillants sur un confit de piquillos,
petits pois en mousseline et cuisinés à l’origan.

This large piece of Atlantic red mullet had an excellent crust. The local peas, whole and puréed, were excellent. Served on a bed of red pepper confit with tiny roe, basil leaves and a primrose flower, it was a very good combination.

Peter and I had
Tournedos doré à la fleur de sel,
cassolette de fèves et fregola sarde torréfiée relevées de sauge et citron,
émulsion béarnaise.

We were each served one and a half thick filets of beef from the Basque Pyrenees. They had a good beefy flavor. A foamy Béarnaise-like sauce was provided to enhance them. Alongside was a pan of toasted beans and pasta balls flavored with sage and lemon. Excellent and filling.

Linda’s dessert was
Rôtie au miel de Roquefort les Pins,
pistaches concassées et coulis au citron vert.

A large roasted, half mango was covered with mango coulis and chopped pistachios.  A substantial, good dessert. 

Peter had
Tarte au citron comme on l’aime, épaisse, légère et meringuée
This was a refined version of lemon meringue pie. Nice. 

My dessert was
L’une fondante cuite naturellement, l’autre cru en salade,
émulsion au caramel beurre sale.

This was the only disappointing dish of the evening. A salted caramel concoction was on top of four mounds of apple sauce decorated with slices of Granny Smith apple.

We had a very good time. The cuisine was inventive, while being Mediterranean. The ingredients were good. The service was friendly and efficient. The pace was right. The gentle music made conversation easy.

On leaving I went up to the mezzanine and took a photo of the open kitchen as it was being cleaned.

I did not get a photo of Chef Navarro, so I borrowed this one from Pudlo.



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