I’ve largely given up writing negative reviews. At home I have a personsal rule that I don’t write about disappointing meals unless they’re at some big name place – usually with a big name TV chef attached to it. I consider they’re not likely to suffer any significant loss of diner support because of me. But I don’t negatively attack local places and sometimes I’ve simply no interest in writing about a meal I haven’t enjoyed. After all, blogging is supposed to be fun – or it is when you’re writing about food and travel.
Perhaps it’s the downturn in the weather matching the downturn in food experience that makes me want to write. Yesterday’s hot and gloriously sunny weather turned grey, windy and wet as the hours passed this afternoon. And the glorious food I’ve enjoyed at Peixes, Bar des Oiseaux, and Lou Pistou on the first night (remembered from my 2015 visit) gave way to the most disappointing meal I’ve had in a while.
It didn’t start well even before I sat down. They tried to sit me in a miserable corner of the bar near the open front door where the bad weather was sweeping in. I have to say that in 8 years of blogging this is only the second time I’ve felt my solo woman dining status has been badly treated. And the other time was in France. My boss told me to sit you there, the waitress told me when I complained. And I had booked a week or two ago – this was not a random visit. No one asked me if I was happy to sit at the bar, I said. And I’m not sitting by the door. Well she could move me but I could only have the table for an hour … I chose to move. I was given a tall bar-type table in a kind of corridor between the front and a larger dining area at the back.
Fortunately they were serving their set menu at €33 for 3 courses, so I wasn’t bound to a more expensive a la carte. I think that’s what made me stay; I did consider walking out. And of course I remembered the amazing reviews I’d read, which had caused me to book there, so I thought my dinner should at least be good.
Some crisp bread – like Sardinian pane carasau – came with tapenade and some sparkling water, which I hadn’t ordered and was charged €1.50 for. I don’t mind paying if asked but have actually mostly been ordering – free! – tap water. The bread seemed slightly stale, not as crispy as it should be. I eat this a lot of my local Italian deli so am very familiar with it. The waitress recommended a local red wine, allowed me to taste before pouring a glass, and it was fine.
More bread came with my starter. The black bread was charcoal bread I was told and certainly had that flavour. Very fashionable at the moment, I know, but not particularly to my taste.
I chose the pissaladiere to start. It looked arty in a foodie way with lots of extra bits. However it was too far removed from the classic (which I enjoyed at Lou Pistou my first night), lacking that lovely sweet softness one looks for in the onions. And the pastry was so flaky it was almost impossible to gather some onto my fork.
The porc mignon was fine but the vegetables were over cooked. I know, how do you overcooked mash? But you over cook the potatoes before mashing. Or that’s what it tasted like. The carrot and courgettes lacked any bite. I left half my main course but no one questioned whether there’d been a problem.
I chose the rice dish to end. It was quite nice but a bit too rich in its creaminess.
The bill was €42; I didn’t leave a tip. After 48 hours of wonderful food in Nice wherever I’ve been, it was hugely disappointing. I’d booked there as it’s a Michelin Bib Gourmand and is consistently named as one of the best restaurants in Nice. Once back at my hotel I couldn’t really find a bad review. But this was my experience. I’ve eaten at many Bib Gourmands not to mention a few Michelin starred restaurants over the years. I could maybe have accepted ‘not quite up to Michelin standard’ but actually, it was really bad and the service in complete contrast to the friendly and brilliant service I’ve enjoyed elsewhere here.