December 22, 2006

19, rue Bonaparate, Nice.  04 92 04 22 09; (no cards, no checks; dinner only, closed Sunday and Monday)

(December 21, 2006) Admittedly, Gary and I are adventurous restaurant-goers.  We like to try new places and will often go to some length to ferret out an undiscovered spot.  So it was with great interest that we read the recent review in the Nice Matin of Diamont Noir (see recent Post).  It certainly sounds like a must try, but buried deep in the review was a passing mention of two others in the neighborhood—Jouni (see recent Post) and Sapore. Of course, we love Jouni, and eagerly await its new incarnation at the old La Reserva; but Sapore?  

A quick check in the Guide Gantié proved that we may have been lax in our explorations.  It is not only listed, but given one olive branch!  It also mentions that the chef, Anthony Riou, is inspired by Ferran Adria, only our favorite.

Rue Bonaparte is a street possibly in transition.  On the one hand, it is full of shops that have been there forever, like the bookstore selling vintage Nice and Provençal books or the laundry where Madam presides and refuses to talk to me in English.  On the other, there is the beginning of gentrification, with a very trendy looking art gallery, and a few steps away, a store front with no sign but obviously part of the updating process.  This is #19—Sapore.

Once inside we were struck by the almost Zen-like décor. interior-abstract-5.jpg Gray stone floors, blonde wooden banquettes with beige pillows, gray plastic chairs that are hard but not uncomfortable, black paper placemats and white linen napkins are all quite calming.  One wall is red, for just the right amount of color. interior-empty-5.jpgThe kitchen is open via a pass-through, and the staff goes back and forth through a stone arch.  The original beams in the ceiling are exposed, and there are a few cacti in the window. 

The staff consists of two young men, dressed in jeans and black sweaters and both very professional but very friendly and casual. There is no choice when it comes to the food.  What they are serving is what you are eating, unless you have some objection.  The menu (28 €) is printed so you can see what is on this week and register any dislikes or allergies before starting. 

We started with a terrine de foie gras de canard with nice, thin toast points; a salade de mesclun, artichokes and Parmesan; and bruschetta de cepes with a paper crispy, thin slice of pancetta up-ended in the middle of it. All three of these starters arrived at the same time, each on its own plate.  The noix de St Jacques with its coral attached was nestled on a bed of lentils to make a delicious and interesting presentation. Our main course, parmentier d’epaule de Angeau confite, arrived on a small plate, which was paired with an individual gratin de potiron on the side. Both of these dishes were just plain great.

No cheese, but two desserts, both arriving together.  A buche de royal chocolat, crème Anglaise and a tartelette clementines de Corse, sorbet coco, each on its own plate and each a true little gem. Our wine, a 1998 Père Puig, a Côtes du Roussillon, at 29 € was not a particularly good choice, but it was drinkable.  No coffee for us, but they gave us a little glass of a white liqueur which we can now not identify.

The food was good, as was the service, but be warned.  This is not a pretentious place. long-table.jpgWe had to save our fork and knife after each course, or they saved them for us by putting them back on our placemat.  Nor is it reminiscent to us of Ferran Adria’s cooking, merely his basic style of serving lots of small plates.  All that said, however, we quite liked the food and the atmosphere and will no doubt return. The menu changes every two weeks, so who knows what tastes will be offered then, but no doubt they will be worth the visit.


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