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Andreea77 Apr 3, 2008 08:09 AM

We are going to Nice for a long weekend. Which will be nice :)
However, where should we go? Where should we eat for lunch, dinner, shop for food? We are dedicated foodies and would love to hear your advice on the best way to spend our long weekend in Nice.

  1. Joe H Apr 16, 2008 03:53 PM

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/485636 (thank you, Chef June) This IS the best restaurant in Nice; but you MUST reserve and request the bouillibasse in advance. You MUST!!! The night we were served it there several other tables requested it and were told that they needed at least 24 hours notice.

    My wife and I both thought that the food at Le Merenda was awful. Yes, a-w-f-u-l, possibly excepting the stockfish which was genuinely good. My apologies to all on this board since we went after reading numerous raves about the place. It was a-w-f-u-l. I would not be surprised if the foundation of their kitchen was a fleet of microwaves! Regardless of our opinions, you really should go: the ambience, the overall experience is a one of a kind and well worth the excursion. Just don't expect a lot and you'll leave happy with a real memory. And, one day you'll be typing on a board like this how disappointed you were with dinner there, yet what a great overall experience it was...

    PS Rent a car and drive south to L'Oasis which is a Michelin two star near Cannes. Worth every kilometer and every Euro which, today, at US $1.60 (and $9.00 a gallon) is a meaningful statement!

    PPS Almost diagonally across from La Petite Maison is a wine shop whose name I can't recall But they have a wine called Chateau Le Puy Barthelemy which sells for about E45. I bought a case of it after sharing a bottle with my wife in our hotel room one night. The case is now gone. It is virtually impossible to find in America. And, the Wine Spectator gave this wine 96 points which is a helluva rating for this price range. Go. Buy a bottle. And, if you like it, bring back a case.

    ...and invite us to dinner.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Joe H
      ChefJune Apr 16, 2008 11:58 PM

      When I was at La Merenda, the kitchen was in full view of the dining room. Microwaves??? they only had a cooktop... and mismatched dishes, but the food was fabulous. I still can taste the Pâtes aux Pistou! How sad if it's gone down so far.

      1. re: ChefJune
        s
        sgbslo Apr 17, 2008 12:56 PM

        I ate at La Merenda in September and enjoyed it (I've been several times before). Funny, the one dish I don't like is the stockfish. But to each his/her own. But there are no microwaves there (the place isn't big enough to hold one).

        1. re: ChefJune
          Joe H Apr 18, 2008 07:49 PM

          ChefJune, I mentioned the microwaves in humor ("a fleet of microwaves"). Unfair, yes, but we were really disappointed with the food having read so very many positive things about it on this and other boards. It was especially disappiointing since we both loved the ambience. Perhaps because it was the middle of January; still, a definitive experience that cannot be found elsewhere and well worth the visit.

      2. a
        Andreea77 Apr 11, 2008 06:16 AM

        thank you SO much. will let you know what we get to try or what we discover new :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Andreea77
          beaulieu Apr 15, 2008 05:37 PM

          L'Aromate and Le Diamant Noir are restaurants you would enjoy.

        2. j
          joshlh Apr 10, 2008 04:49 AM

          I wish I'd found these tips before my own recent trip...

          I'd definitely recommend socca as well. I wasn't on the lookout for it, and I never saw it in Nice, but I tried some from a vendor in the Antibes produce market, and it was wonderful. Plus, it was very cool to see the portable wood-burning oven they cooked it in.

          4 Replies
          1. re: joshlh
            ChefJune Apr 10, 2008 06:47 AM

            not finding socca in Nice seems odd to me, because we found it literally everywhere in Vieux Nice. You did go to the Old Town area?

            1. re: ChefJune
              j
              joshlh Apr 10, 2008 12:23 PM

              yep, we certainly did. i'm not saying it wasn't there, just that somehow it didn't jump out at me. also, i wasn't blown away by the market in Nice old town, and again preferred the one in Antibes. don't know if it was a bad day, or i wasn't paying enough attention or what...

              1. re: joshlh
                r
                rrems Apr 10, 2008 12:35 PM

                Interesting you should say that. Maybe it's because we were in Nice on a Saturday and Antibes on a weekday, but I found the market in Antibes fascinating and the one in Nice rather limited.

                1. re: rrems
                  desylicious Apr 16, 2008 12:07 PM

                  I would have to agree about Antibes; it was a pleasant surprise. I was in Antibes on a weekday and on a weekend and I would take it over Nice. In fact, one of my favorite meals was at Le Comptoir de la Tourraque in Antibes. We were also disappointed with the food we had in Nice in general. Wrong choices, I guess.

                  Check out my flickr sets on Nice Antibes. There are photos of Lou Pilha Leva (13 Rue Collet) and Le Comptoir de la Tourraque. This may give you an idea of what to expect. Hope it works:

                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_entropista/sets/72157603520263451/
                  and

                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_entro...

          2. p
            Piggyinthemiddle Apr 9, 2008 09:29 AM

            I second the socca stop - it is somewhat of an acquired taste, both salty and slightly sour, which takes all of five minutes to acquire! The Nicois eat it for breakfast or mid-morning break. It costs all of 2 euros, and is sliced off in a large, thin, slightly burnt triangle, which you roll up to eat. Best places to get it are at Teresa's stall halfway down the Cours Saleya market (the huge pans are constantly replenished by a man on a motorcycle) or at Lou Pilha Leva (13 Rue Collet), an over-the-counter in the Old Town at a trianglar junction. (This place also serves other yummy Nice specialities - Petits Nicoises (meat-stuffed vegetbales), sweet blette tart, stuffed sardines, etc. You have to eat at outside tables at both, and probably have to stand in line to order. Try getting there between breakfast and lunch (around 10am?) for less of a wait.
            For more substantial fare try L'Ovale for lunch (29 Rue Pastorelli), a 10 minute walk inland from the port and the Old Town. It's a cheap and cheerful local, popular during the week for workers (both suits and blue collar), and with rugbymen. The lunch menu is generous, lots of choice, and only 15 euros (w/o wine) or you can have the dish of the day (11 euros) or the carte. All are great quality/price. And it will give you a flavour (literally) of what everyday life in Nice is like - not every meal should be starred!
            Three grander options for a leisurely lunch or a dinner include Don Camillo Creations (5 Rue des Ponchettes) - their 40 euro menu includes 5 inventive but locally inspired choices for each of three courses; La Petite Maison (11 Rue St Francois de Paule) for their signature foie-gras stuffed chicken (as main course split between two, 55 euros. One drawback is their famously off-hand front-of-house Madame (but take heart from the fact that she is that way with almost everyone, except the mayor and the likes of Johnny Halliday). The food is worth it. Finally, around the corner on the left-hand side of the Vieux Port (50 Blvd Franck Pilatte) is the newish, lauded La Reserve de Nice (Michelin *). It is in a 1930s Art Deco building with marvellous views over the Med and west to the Baie des Anges. * restaurant upstairs, less costly bistro on the ground floor. I haven't been there myself, but have heard good reports, and the situation is lovely. If you are staying in downtown Nice, this is the only one you would need a taxi to.
            Bon appetit!!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Piggyinthemiddle
              ChefJune Apr 9, 2008 10:57 AM

              Isn't Bar Rene Socca stand still there???? That was the best when I was there. I must've tried everyone's socca1

              1. re: ChefJune
                p
                Piggyinthemiddle Apr 10, 2008 09:33 AM

                I think Bar Rene Socca's stand and Teresa's must be one and the same. She's black-haired, gypsy-like, and the only socca seller in the market. She's in the middle of the market, facing inland toward the Old Town; been there yearssssssssssss.

                1. re: Piggyinthemiddle
                  s
                  sgbslo Apr 11, 2008 10:22 AM

                  They are not the same. Teresa has a separate shop in old town and you can see them hauling things to the market sometimes. Rene Socca is still going strong.

            2. s
              sgbslo Apr 9, 2008 09:11 AM

              I completely agree with the Alziari olive oil rec--it's my favorite!
              For a special meal try Jouni La Reserve. It's in a beautiful spot on the water and the food and service are top notch.
              La Tire Bouchon in the old town is a good dinner choice. It has an interesting menu and very pleasant atmosphere.
              Bistro Antoine also in the old town has a lively atmosphere and very good food for both lunch and dinner.
              Le Pot d'Etain on rue Meyerbeer is a favorite of ours for a nice meal that won't break the bank.
              For local flavor I'd suggest La Merenda about which much has been written. It's a tiny place with no phone and they don't take credit cards nor are they open on weekends. The food is very well-prepared authentic nicoise cuisine. Another local cuisine favorite is Acchiardo which a family-run spot in the old town. It too does not take credit cards and is closed on weekends.

              1. a
                Andreea77 Apr 8, 2008 02:14 PM

                everyone thank you for the recommendations. first time in nice :)
                we'll make sure to visit the open market. i love that idea. and the olive oill shop. hmmm ...
                any restaurants you can recommend? we're ready to spend more for a really nice/ memorable lunch or dinner.
                thanks

                1 Reply
                1. re: Andreea77
                  r
                  rrems Apr 8, 2008 07:54 PM

                  We had a great lunch at Le Chanticleer about 7 years ago. It has a Michelin star and is not cheap (currently 55 euros) but includes unlimited wine, and the red wine they poured was a wonderful Bandol. I thought it was very good value for fine food in a very elegant atmosphere.

                2. s
                  souvenir Apr 4, 2008 09:14 AM

                  Andreea77- have you visited or stayed in Nice before? Trying to figure out best recommendations...

                  The first recommendation is always the Cours Saleya- it's where the largest open air market is held. Everyday except Monday, it has flowers, plants and food. If my memory is correct, some of the vendors change between morning and afternoon. I am not a morning person, but the selection is best the earlier you go. On Mondays, it is a brocante, and well-worth visiting if your long weekend includes a Monday.
                  On one of the streets leading to the Cours Saleys, rue Saint-Francoise-de-Paule is a beautiful olive oil shop, Alziari, http://www.alziari.com.fr/. They have been producing olive oils with the same mill since 1868. I like the flavor of their most intense olive oil.

                  Surrounding the Cours Saleya are any number of cafes and restaurants. Do a search on La Merenda to read various opinions about it. If you haven't been before, I think it is worth a visit and forming your own opinion. In addition to all the socca options, I also love to eat midday at a small cafe that is pretty exclusively crepes or galettes, and I am spacing on the name. I'll add another post when I think of it...

                  What part of Nice will you be staying in, and will you have a car?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: souvenir
                    ChefJune Apr 4, 2008 11:49 AM

                    <On one of the streets leading to the Cours Saleys, rue Saint-Francoise-de-Paule is a beautiful olive oil shop, Alziari, http://www.alziari.com.fr/. They have been producing olive oils with the same mill since 1868. I like the flavor of their most intense olive oil.>
                    Some of their oils are brought into US, but not the one Souvenir mentioned. I like to get it packed to travel on the plane with me.(in the hold, these days!) 15 years ago, I shipped 5 liters home, and the shipping cost twice as much as the oil!

                    Second La Merenda, and also recommend L'Ane Rouge on the harbor for Bourride (altho recently had great reports on the Bouillabaisse, as well).

                  2. s
                    smarkle Apr 3, 2008 01:12 PM

                    get socca in the old city - kind of a chickpea pancake with pepper. for a sit down kind of meal, the Koudou on the Promenade des Anglais is pretty tasty - I'd highly recommend their napoleon (called a millefeuille) if you've got room for dessert - it's very different from the american version, lighter.
                    have fun, it's a great city.

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