French Restaurant in Nice, France: La Merenda

Review
 
La Merenda HeartHeartHeart
Restaurant
Nice
Open: Lunch and dinner Mon - Fri
Price: Moderate
Score (/20): 16

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: No phone
Address: 4 rue Raoul Bosio (formerly rue Terrasse)
Nice, Provence
Country: France
Food Style: French

La Merenda precisely captures what the Foodtourist.com site is all about! We are not primarily concerned by the ambience of a restaurant, how easy it is to book, whether there is valet parking available or even whether there are convenient toilets.
What we are primarily looking for is good food that reflects the stated intentions of the owners. At Le Merenda we found exactly that. Perfectly cooked, honest food that used the best ingredients and reflected the soul of the cuisine of the region.
There are some drawbacks. There is no telephone so it is difficult to reserve a table. And, the stools do not have backs on them, so they are not conducive to long lunches!
The restaurant is very small and you could easily miss it as you walk up rue Raoul Bosio. The tables are placed so close together that the only way to be seated is to pull the table right out. At the back of the room is the open, tiny kitchen where you can see the chef at work. Many of the locals engage him in discussions about the food. On our most recent meal we sat next to a very regal local lady who was interested that we had travelled so far to revisit the food. She seemed almost anxious that we would again like it! When we pronounced the tomato tart to be a tour de force she let out a sigh of delight.
You find out what is available from a tiny blackboard menu that is brought to your table. Another, with the extra dishes, is placed above the door. Some slices of good, strong bread are placed on the table.
On one occasion we started with a simple salad of roquet and goats cheese with three tiny olives and a dish of stuffed sardines done in the nicoise style. Both dishes were prime examples of simplicity and honesty in food. Perfect flavours and perfect technique.
For main course we tried one of the best examples of daube of beef that we have experienced anywhere in France. It was long cooked, flavourful and simply melted in the mouth. Accompanying the daube were chick pea 'chips' - a classic dish of the area known as panisse. They were stunning.
A dish of tripe (also accompanied by the chick pea dish) was similarly a classic. On one of our visits we ordered the stockfish. The waiter seemed concerned that we might not understand what we were ordering. When we explained that we understood the strong flavours of this dish and were looking for an authentic example he relaxed. He needn't have worried. We loved it. It is a dish of very strong and complex flavours but it is definitely 'worth a journey'!
It is rare in a small restaurant for the chef to be proficient at all facets of a meal. Often they fail when it comes to dessert. Not here. A perfect piece of lemon tart with absolutely stunning pastry and a vanilla cream (like a crème brulee without the caramelised top) were both a lovely end to the meal.
On our first visit, a bottle of vin de pays from the Var area accompanied the dishes and Badoit mineral water was also served. On our next visit the offering was a Cotes de Provence appellation from Domaine de Matourne which is near the pleasant village of Flayosc.
We can unreservedly recommend this restaurant to all those who value food experiences.
 
     
 

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