Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mirazur - Great Restaurant or the Greatest Restaurant?

Well, here comes a new feature on WWMRD....restaurant review!

Myself and wife just got back from our honeymoon in the UK, France and Italy. Considering how much we ate, we're lucky to have not put on 20 to 30 pounds (each). I assume this has to do with the fact we were smoking at a Dice Clay-ian pace. Actually, we weren’t….but it would have been cool/sophisticated if we were.

Anyway, I like restaurants, but I am not really the type to write about them, (I leave that to people who know how to write properly…most of my adjectives are swear words). I prefer to rant about how much my stable of sports teams sucks….so this is a nice, little change of pace. The restaurant to be discussed today is called Mirazur, and is located in Menton, France. The short review is this: Best meal I’ve ever had! For the long review, see below.

First things first – If you are taking the train to Mirazur, get off at the Menton Garavan stop….not the main Menton train station. Mirazur is about a 10 minute walk from the Garavan stop, but closer to 45 minutes from the main stop. Less walking is better.

We hiked up the hill towards the restaurant, and I must say I was somewhat nervous about our pending arrival to the fancy, Michelin-rated establishment. Would they kick me out straight away for looking like a homeless guy? Thankfully, they did not. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by Guillaume Mantis…a guy who could be described as both ‘classy’ and ‘slick’. I was somewhat worried that my wife would want to leave me for him….and to be honest, I wouldn’t have really blamed her.

After admiring the stunning view for a while, we opted for the 9 course Menu Dégustation….which at 75€ may be the best bargain since Matt Stairs. Before the first course arrived, we ordered some champagne and were provided with some amuse bouche.

From right to left:

-Olive oil and honey, infused with CO2. Effectively, these are gourmet pop rocks.
-Ricotta with some flowers from the garden and little pieces of citrus. The texture of the citrus was almost like caviar, but it was not. Who knows…I could be wrong….but I think it was grapefruit.
-Duck breast with cream and oil.
-Cucumber and mint soup.

At this point, I was fairly certain we were in for quite a meal.

1st Course – Oeuf de poule cuit à basse temperature (Ogre perlé aux algues fraiches)

This was an egg, poached a low temperature for 35 minutes. It was served on top of barley along with seaweed and salt. The grain was cooked so it retained a lot of its texture, which was nice. I imagine this type of classy breakfast is what rich people eat every day.

2nd Course - Velouté de pomme de terre Vitelotte (Espuma au café de Columbie)

A creamy potato soup made with Vitelotte potatoes. (Vitelottes are purple, and somewhat sweet). This soup was topped with a foam flavoured with coffee. Of course, this tasted wonderful…but my favourite part of this dish was the different temperature of each layer. The cool foam on top seemed to somehow insulate the warm soup underneath. The temperature of the soup came as a surprise, not unlike finding a warm spot in a public swimming pool.

3rd Course - Jardin d'automne (Légumes cuits et crus dans un boullon au parmesan)

A bowl of seven different types of vegetables from their garden. On top of this a bouillon flavoured with parmigiano reggiano. A classy cheese and vegetable soup.

4th Course - Oursin de Méditerranée (Sauce pimenté et émulsion d'amandes)

Awesome….sea urchin. I was quite looking forward to this course, as I am a big fan of uni whenever I go for sushi. It’s strange that something so ugly and scary looking can turn out to be possibly the best tasting food in the world. They’re a bit like the Pittsburgh Pirates of the mid-70s…..great team, horrible uniforms. This was served in the shell, along with a slightly spicy sauce and an almond emulsion.

5th Course - Foie gras des Landes grillé (Mousseline de betterave et citron de notre jardin)

Grilled foie gras. ‘Nuff said. The side off lemon and beet is a seemingly simple sweet and sour combo that I wish I had thought of myself. I can’t believe some politicians have moved to ban the sale and production of foie gras. It makes about as much sense as banning stem cell research! (Oh wait…politicians aren’t cool with that either?!!?) I maintain that any animal rights activist would ram the funnel down the duck/goose’s throat themselves if they ever actually gave up their all grain diet and tried some foie gras. Did I say that sea urchin was the best food in the world? I might have meant foie gras.

6th Course - Poisson de la pèche locale (Oseille sauvage et sauce fumée)

Some kind of local white fish served with foamy sauce of smoked fish and clams. I’ve occasionally cooked fish and thought to myself, “wow…that turned out well”. I now know that I wasn’t even close. This fish was cooked PERFECTLY….I don’t know of any other way to describe it. It seemed to be poached, but I could be wrong.

7th Course - Souris d'agneau de Sisteron (Risotto à la menthe de marées)

Lamb, cooked for 30 hours and served with mint risotto. Again…it was pretty much perfect, (seems to be a running theme here).

8th Course - Pré-dessert

Any restaurant that serves a dessert appetizer is OK with me. For this course, we had a pineapple sorbet, along with a mousse flavoured with some kind of flower, and a nettle jelly. This is much fancier than most desserts I have…..because to be honest, I normally have Oreo ice cream.

9th Course – Dessert

Ice cream along with a chocolate truffle and hazelnut pralines…..served on a bed of shaved coco. Is there any point telling you how awesome this was, or is that just being redundant?

Bonus Course – Coffee and more dessert!

Along with our coffees, we were served a selection of home made sweets. From right to left:

-Lemon custard on shortbread
-Chocolate something. They looked like cookies, but had the taste and texture of marshmallows.
-Muffin with a dried cherry.
-White chocolate containing a dried apricot, a hazelnut and a pistachio. (My favourite)
-Some kind of chewy chocolate cookie with nuts

3+ hours later – we were finally done. I really could have stayed and started the whole process over again…but that would just be gluttonous, (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I had mixed feelings about finding out the chef, Mauro Colagreco, was actually younger than me. On one hand, it will be fun to say in 20 years that we ate at Mirazur way back when – at that time I would expect Colagreco to have multiple accolades and charging a small ransom for his food. On the other hand, it makes me feel old and useless.

Here are the details for Mirazur:

30, avenue Aristide Briand
Menton, France.
Phone: +33 (0)4-92-41-86-86.
Web Site: www.mirazur.fr

I would HIGHLY recommend this place to anyone who finds themselves in Southern France or Northern Italy. Definitely worth the trip. The fact that it’s on the main rail line along the Cote D’Azur makes it very easy to get to. You really don’t have any excuse not to go here….

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