The Accidental Locavore found that one advantage of having had a hand in a splint (and trust me, in NYC there are only a few and why don’t they make splints in safety orange?) is that from time to time people would comment on it and once a seat on the subway was offered to me. The splint turned out to be how I met the extremely handsome, charming and French chef de cuisine of La Promenade des Anglais — Alain. Oh, and did I mention he can cook?
While the menu, at first glance, looked a little disappointing, it was only because I was somehow thinking it would be a replica of le Safari, our favorite place in Nice. The restaurant itself is lovely, with big marble bars and a warm staff that made me feel welcome just walking in off the street. I was there, meeting some people for a drink before the holidays and we had a great time, sitting in the back bar, drinking.
Suddenly, this extremely handsome man in chef whites, came over and was asking about my hand. We all got to talking and it turned out that he was the chef de cuisine there. Alain has also worked in some of the finest restaurants in France, so has an impressive CV. We asked him for some appetizer suggestions and decided on the burrata and some roasted baby artichokes. Both were delicious, the burrata being properly buttery and accompanied by grilled hunks of bread. The artichokes were small, cut in half and roasted, served with a smear of a lemony anchovy sauce, to run them through. Oh, and did I mention he was handsome?
Now that my husband is back from exile, we grabbed a couple of friends and made a reservation for dinner so we could really enjoy the whole menu. One of the advantages of going with a group of food lovers is that everyone is willing to share and there are a lot (maybe too many?) “dishes for the table,” which essentially means that we ordered too much food.
In general, the appetizers were the high point of the meal. The Locavore had the veal tartare which was slick (in a good way) with olive oil and lots of grainy Dijon. A surprising hit were the croquettes, but then how could you go wrong with fried food? The fish soup was a quick trip back to the South of France, in a bowl.
The main courses weren’t as successful. For once, we really didn’t order any meat, sticking to pasta and fish. I had the swordfish with harissa. The fish was perfectly cooked to a just past quivering point, however the harissa lacked heat. The winning dish was the paccheri (a large tube pasta) with rabbit and hazelnuts—a great combination. Other fish and pasta dishes were tasty, but everything just seemed a little safe.
And Alain? Still looking good and a perfect host, stopping by our table to meet everyone and comparing notes with the other “Nicoise” chef in our midst. Added bonus, he’s going to fill us in on where to eat in Nice for our upcoming trip!
Went with a group the other night; unfortunately the handsome chef was not around. But we liked pretty much everything. I wasn’t really expecting Le Safari, but the ceiling — with the beach pebbles, promenade chairs, etc. — was quite nice. They were out of the zucchini blossoms, which was disappointing, but we agreed that all the appetizers were terrific , especially the artichokes and the frogs’ legs (they could’ve given a little more burrata for the price, though). We also liked the entrees — the veal (although the Times hadn’t liked it), the branzino, the skate. . . . The warm chocolate cake, although obviously not innovative, was one of the best of its kind in NYC. Unfortunately, when we left the restaurant, we were only on West 23rd Street on a cool February evening, rather than the Cours Saleya.
I hadn’t had it until a couple of years ago in San Francosco and then dreamed of it for a long time after. It’s very fragile so make sure you’re getting it from a good place.
I must confess to never having heard of burrata, so I just did a Google search for it. Sounds wonderful!!! Thanks for bringing it to my attention 🙂