Lunch Saturday 19 July 2014
Mirazur Menton: a heavenly swim in the ocean and a walk in a Mediterranean garden
Chef: Mauro Colagreco
30, avenue Aristide-Briand, 06500 Menton
+33 (4) 92418686
Worlds best 50 restaurants: no 11 in the world 2015, 2014
Michelin stars **
A Special occasion place
A restaurant beside the sea is how the website greets you, perhaps a little understated, Mirazur is so much more. As I write this page I cannot stop smiling, flooding back are the memories of a wonderful, sunny afternoon gazing across the Mediterranean soaking up the flavours of the sea and garden. This is a special occasion place, a place for celebrations, to confess or renew undying love or simply one of the best places on earth to acknowledge an important person in your life. I know I will return to if only to experience the ecstasy of that afternoon again.
Mirazur’s garden fills the menu; flowers, fruit and vegetables are gathered each morning ready for the day’s menu. The menu is designed around three main themes, land and sea, herbs and flowers and both bitter and acid. Tomatoes, onions, citrus, fish and seafood are woven and intertwined in the day’s plates and sourced from both sides of the border.
Heavy sauces are replaced by scents of herbs and flowers. The food was intensely flavoursome, light and just plain delicious.
No tricks, no flashy, weird food, just beautiful food bursting with flavour served in a idyllic setting.
The entrance to the restaurant is Mediterranean, and as a sole diner one gets used to the being seated at a less favourable table, but no I was guided to the in the centre of the restaurant, at the window, with full vantage of the sea. I immediately had gone to sleep and woken up on heaven.
The menus change daily and follow the seasons. You may choose from a premieres Traces or a Voyage des sens.
I chose a Voyages de sens, degustation Carte blanche, 140 euro and added the caviar and Champagne 70 euro, and the langoustine 70 euro. This experience had been planned for over a year and it was a celebration to just to be there, and with some of my very, very favourite things on offer, I threw caution to the wind, what the heck.
Beetroot of pâte fruit with sheep cheese cream, mozzarella with anchovies fried on a stick and Cucumber and ricotta. Simple flavours that prepared the palate for the delights ahead.
Caviar and champagne
Why not, tempted by the optional French luxury of traditional champagne and caviar. Imperial caviar was labelled poetry for gourmets and complete with a must have mother of pearl spoon and traditional accompaniments, boiled egg, sour cream, capers and blinis.
Paired with Comtes de Champagne, Taittinger Blanc de Blancs 2005 Champagne
Pull apart bread with a little French and English philosophy, served with an intensely lemon and ginger infused olive oil, Huile D’olive au Gingembri et Citron de Menton, Huilerie St Michel.
Shallot’s cream, declination of William’s pear
This light, beautifully balanced Genoa oyster paired perfectly on a bed of fresh pear, shallot cream, pear juice, tapioca and pear jelly. A stand out dish
Paired with Lionel Faury Saint Joseph 2012
More varieties of bread were offered, and although very tempting, there was still much to be tasted so it was a pass for me
Fresh Tomato salad
The Mirazur garden grows over 20 varieties of tomatoes, simplicity at its best, perfectly chilled, refreshing wild tomatoes sang in the dish along with the freshness of local figs, strawberries and Breton mozzarella.
Cauliflower cream and imperial caviar
Smoked eel emulsion, Menton Hazelnuts and Granny smith apple
Served in a gorgeous spiked glass bowl, as if we were eating from the bottom of the ocean, smoked eel, served with warm cauliflower cream, hazelnuts, caviar and cubes of tart Granny Smith. Stand out dish
Baña Cauda Cream
Baña cauda cream is a warm creamy dip made from butter, garlic, anchovies and cream that originates from Piedmont, Italy. The squid slipped apart as if taglierini pasta, enhanced by the Baña Cauda cream it was soft and melted like velvet in my mouth.
Paired with Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve
Broth of tamarind, curry and cream
A trip across the border, delicately flavoured and beautifully garnished with tiny onions flowers from the garden.
Cevennes onions, chives and lemon
The langoustine was perfectly cooked, bursting with lemony flavour and balanced by the sweet yet savoury flavour of onion. The delicately flavoured Cevenne onion originates from the terraced hillsides of the Cevennes mountains in south central France. Sweet and delicate when raw it becomes slightly more savoury when cooked as in this dish. It is an aristocrat in the onion world and the only onion with the privilege of AOP (appellation d’origine protégé).
Coffee, marinated roe
This little touch of starchy comfort food was welcome, a surprise how the coffee flavour and the salty roe enhanced the soft fluffy potatoes.
Red Scorpion fish
Stew of chick peas and Parmentier sauce
A potato based, buttery sauce with a local red scorpion fish, perfectly cooked as though it had just come form the line that morning. The red scorpion fish is a vibrant orange, coloured spotty, scary looking fish, classically served in Bouillabaisse.
Duck from Challans
With declination of plums
The only meat dish on the menus, but one of my favourites, a delicate slice of perfectly cooked duck bathed in the acidity and sweetness of the local plums. Challans duck are classic French ducks raised for their render, lean flesh in the marshy areas of Vendée in western central France.
Naranjo en Flor
Sospel’s saffron cream, almond foam and orange sorbet
A tribute to the chef’s Argentinian background, Naranjo en Flor, is the orange blossom, the flower of seduction and the name of a version of Tango. Saffron is sourced from the ancient, town, Sospel, 20 km north of Menton, 350 metres above sea level and close to the Italian border. Heavenly, and yes seductive as the spoon gave way to the crisp yet delicate, caramelised seal, cracked open to reveal a silky, saffron cream, almond foam with the lightness of subtly orange flavoured sorbet. Stand out dish
Fresh and confit cherry, almond sorbet
Hibiscus and burnet
The hibiscus jelly, fresh local almonds and sorbet combined perfectly with fresh local cherries, a light, delicate symphony at the end of a meal.
And to finish,
Branches of chocolate, pattte fruit of carrot and orange, verveine and apricot Macaroon and madeleine
Verveine translated to verbena, the lemon flavoured herb is used to flavours teas and a distinctive liquor in Velay.
Coffee and a cheese trolley were on offer but even the long walk along the seaside from one end of Menton to the other hadn’t allowed room. The hydrangea display added a touch of elegance beneath a quirky painting near the entrance, so European and stylish, with the little Fiat a training partner for the horse.
A cup of coffee, a walk in the herb garden courtesy of Rut, the maitre d’, then a lovely stroll home down the hill to my hotel.
The next day, an email from Rut Cotroneo, a Melbourne-aphile, a photograph of the collection of my scrappy notes of the meal spread over several Napoleon Menton note papers. In a daze after a beautiful afternoon, I had left them on the table.
I had a wonderful 48 hours on Menton, the luxury expected of three Michelin stars not two, real food, perfect seating and that incredible view!!
If you are ever lucky enough to find your self in Menton, visit the market and soak up the terroir before lunch. Take in one of the classic Mediterranean Gardens of Menton.
Dont miss the Jean Cocteau museum, musee Jean Cocteau, breath taking, and so beautiful, I honestly felt teary when I walked into the first room.
I stayed at the Hotel Napoleon Menton, quirky but stylish, every room decorated in a Jean Cocteau theme, excellent walk in shower, very comfortable and in a great position across from the stony, sometimes sandy beach and walking distance from the old town.*
Impossible to believe, difficult to believe : extraordinary, enough to make you cry tears of joy.