Jouni, atelier du goût
December 21, 2006
On December 20, 2006, four of us went for a celebratory dinner at “Jouni, atelier du goût” just north of the old port in Nice. The welcome was warm and we were soon starting a bottle of Cuilleron Condrieu as our apéritif. We ordered the menu dégustation, which includes all three of the starters offered that evening, a choice of one of the three main courses, cheese and a choice of desserts.
An amuse-gueule of a very beany pasta e fagioli was brought. We then had two fresh scallops caramelized at high heat on one side with potato gnocchi and broccoletti. This was followed by a risotto with veal stock; we had accepted the offer of having a fresh white truffle grated over it for an additional fee, which was calculated by weighing the truffle on a miniature scale on our table before and after grating. The truffle was delicious, of course, but I thought was not as fresh as it could have been; late December is after the height of the season. The third starter was half of a small squab pastilla. Except for the size I think this was true to the classic Moroccan version with its delicious aromatic mixture of spices.
Els, Kees and I then had the squid à la plancha, a house specialty. It is broiled to just the right texture on a wooden board and then cut up and tossed in a light garlicky sauce. It is served with deep fried polenta and artichoke slices, which add some substance to the course, plus a salad of fresh greens and thin slices of raw artichoke which provide the needed freshness. Linda enjoyed the sea bass, also cooked à la plancha, but with a milder sauce, artichoke slices and panisses of mashed potatoes, both deep fried. The third choice for main courses was roast veal. The cheese was slices of gorgonzola dolce, tomme de chèvre and tomme de vache served with confitures of green tomatoes, onions and red wine.
For dessert I had caramelized bananas with a rich dark chocolate cake and banana ice cream. Linda enjoyed the Pomme d’Adam, a feuillété of caramalized apples and fresh chopped apple. Els liked her Boite au Coco, with coconut and other exotic flavors. Marrons glacés were offered to finish things off. After a second bottle of the delicious Condrieu, we had a bottle of 1993 Chateau Pibernon Bandol. At the suggestion of the waiter I had a glass of Muscat doré from St. Jeannet with the dessert, which was okay. Grappa or lemoncello were offered on the house.
The friendly and efficient service is provided by a staff of young men who seem to enjoy their work. While the 37-year-old Finnish chef, Jouni Tormanen, could be seen occasionally, he did not stop to chat as he had the last time we were there. His big partner, Giuseppe Serena, from Turin, also came out to talk to the staff. I’m sure they are planning for the future most of the time now.
The cuisine was all well prepared from fresh ingredients and at 90€ for the menu, plus the truffle supplement and, the wines, of course, is an outstanding culinary bargain. The menu changes daily; Linda and I had been at Jouni on September 30 when the three starters were anchovy sashimi on toast; two foies gras, sautéed and terrine; and cèpes risotto. Our main course was two little round filets of lamb. All very good. We had also been on June 6, when I posted my first comments on Jouni.
We had thought that September would be our last visit to Jouni in this location as he will be moving soon. He has been renovating the old, abandoned well-known restaurant, La Réserve, on the shore just east of the ferry port. The construction has taken much longer that expected due to a variety of problems and the move is now anticipated for mid-January. Jouni will have two restaurants there. On the ground floor will be a bistro with a menu much like the present one. Upstairs he will have a more upscale place aiming directly for a second star. I imagine that he will succeed in that. His staff seems very enthusiastic about the future. We will certainly be there as soon as we can. http://www.jouni.fr