I have not had a meal like the one I had at Restaurant Flaveur in Nice, France yesterday. Of the “fancy restaurant” meals that I have had both in Italy and here in France over the last month and including the much heralded Castellet by Christian Brachie’, Flaveur topped them all!! Fantastic, inventive, before to match the delicious, artistic, thoughtful, well presented Menu Exploration, with both local and not so local wines and yes, spirits too as you will see, single Malt Scotch Whiskey and Ron Antiguo, a single malt Venezuelan Rum. Unusual for me, I had read quite a number of reviews of Flaveur on Trip Adviser and though most were laudatory and some very much so, there were a disquieting number of fair, poor or very poor reviews, a few of which suggested saving one’s money and not dining there at all. After my own fantastic experience, I am at a loss to explain the poor reviews. It took four hours, the service was terrible, the food wasn’t that great, the decor was not good, the value was terrible, etc. etc. etc. All I can say it that in my three hour “Menu Exploration, Tout Latitudes” and pairing of 6 wines and spirits none of those descriptions comes even close to one of the finest dining experiences I have had in 38 years of exploring restaurants, in diverse countries of the world. I found the decor, light-hearted, bright and cheerful with a nautical bent in keeping with the excellent cuisine from the sea and land and wines and spirits. The service by two well informed young men, one whose home was in Albania and was only a few days on the job, was courteous, informative and with perfect pacing of the three amuses bouches and the nine courses of absolutely delicious food. The restaurant and kitchen are the work of the brothers Gael and Mickael Tourteaux, both of whom I was able to meet and converse with both during and after the meal. Knowing that the chef/owners are present in the kitchen goes a long way to insuring a great meal at a “starred” restaurant because too many big name chefs end up as culinary celebrities and spend their time running around the world, to tend to their far flung enterprises, leaving their flagship restaurant in the hands of subordinates who often do not show the level of skill and management of the boss! Not so at Flaveur, with the two brothers on hand the meal greatly exceeded my expectations and quite honestly, I do not have a single significant criticism. I should add, before launching in to a detailed description of my menu, that a passing knowledge of the French language is helpful although not absolutely necessary. Even at home I find some of the esoteric culinary names a mystery even when someone tries to explain then to me.
OK let’s talk about the menu and the wine and spirit accompaniments. I cannot cover everything on the fantastic menu but I will highlight some of the most fantastic and outstanding and will embellish this blog post with more than my usual number of photos to allow you to share my Flaveur experience vicariously! A lovely glass of Pouillon & Fils Premier Cru brut, Rose’ Champagne commenced the meal, followed by three delightful morsels of amuses bouches. A lovely selection of breads of a variety of types (I love bread!) accompanied by extra virgin olive oil and lovely French butter continued the meal. The first “real course’ was green asparagus with Burrata, wild garlic and Greek Yogurt which highlighted the aspargine flavor and texture of the delicate stalks and was accompanied by a light but flavorful Domaine Croix-Rouges Rose’ of Grenache and Cinsault. The first fish course of red mullet with fennel, cebette, rice paper and Sesame was enhanced by a lovely still Rose’ of Claivate and Carignane grapes. The second fish course of smokes sword fish with salted lemon confit and fresh herbes was enhanced by acidic, , dry and perfect Domaine des Schistes Cote du Roussillon white wine of Grenache blanc et gris grapes. An additional light, amazing course combined local fish with delicate Octopus and Bouillon of Vaduvan (a blend of Indian spices and curry), Cauliflower and Lovage seeds, accompanied by a mineral, dry, but full bodies French Chardonnay from Burgundies Cote de Or region. A tender portion of Piedmont Beef was full of flavor and served with eggplant, Tamarin and wild pepper and accompanied by a delicious, chewy, Cote du Rhone, red blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre.. And then the real surprises began when the Galabe’ (derived from Caribbean Cane Sugar), Almonds with Tumeric and Parisian Mushrooms was accompanied by the Craigellachie Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey aged 13 years! What do you think of that? I was skeptical but won over by the smooth but powerful alcoholic drink which, I might add, I knew nothing about, as I very rarely drink whiskey of any kind but this marriage of whiskey and sweet and nuts and spices seemed perfect. My final surprise, well sort of, because there were other surprises to come was the dessert of Pineapple, Tapioca with Coriander and to my astonishment, “very old” rum to be specific Deplomatico, Ron Antiguo, Reserva Exclusiva Venezuelan Rum! I can’t remember when I last drank fum but this lovely example reminded me of my favorite “after dinner’ drink of Bas Armagnac! And finally, the mignardises like a Pan Massala!! Of course, I had to look up Pan Massala which is a mixture of herbs, nuts and seeds commonly employed in India at the end of a meal to aid in digestion and to freshen the breath. Chewing the nuts mixture releases amazing flavors which blend beautifully with the Rum. How is that for an amazingly inventive menu to tickle the taste buds, fill the stomach and enlighten the mind of someone like me who was unfamiliar with many of those fresh, elegant ingredients! Talking with the Brothers Tourteaux one senses the passion that they bring to their cooking and to their absolutely, amazing, outstanding restaurant. If you like food and you find yourself in Nice sometime, do not fail to visit the wonderful Restaurant Flaveur and explore the culinary heights with their team. What a meal!!!! What an experience! I only wish that you, my reader, could have been there to share it with me. Next time??