Le Diamant Noir 1 & 2

December 24, 2006

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DN : Le Diamant Noir

34 rue Beaumont 06300 Nice

04.93.89.69.60.  (Closed Sunday evening and Monday.)

www.diamant-noir.fr

No credit cards

(December 23, 2006We were surprised to read in Nice-Matin last Saturday that Benjamin Bruno, the 23-year-old youngest son of Clément Bruno had opened a restaurant in a mixed residential and commercial area of east Nice (although it has a restaurant history with the now closed Hélène Barale across the street.) We have been many times to his father’s restaurant in Lorgues; (see our post under “The Var.”)

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And so we went for dinner two days before Christmas. We were welcomed by Benjamin’s lovely wife, Sandrine, who handles the sixteen-place dining room by herself with charm and efficiency. dn-1.jpgSince most of the diners arrived quite late by Nice standards, we had a chance to chat with her. She told us that they had been open for nine months catering to events, which is still their main business, and that the restaurant has been open for six weeks.  She said that Benjamin had worked for a year at Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée in Paris and for a year at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. He had also worked for his father in Lorgues and at his shop “Terre de Truffes.” That seems like a full agenda for a 23-year-old.   

dn-2.jpgWe ordered a glass of champagne and the Menu Dégustation. The amuse-gueule: a glass of velouté of ash-smoked chestnuts was warm and delicious, setting the stage for the autumnal meal to follow.

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The first course was in three parts: 

A brouillade, a dish of eggs lightly scrambled with truffles and two truffle slices on top; this is a classic presentation for a good reason; the truffles and the hot eggs blend beautifully.

An unctuous, peppery fresh terrine of truffled foie gras on toast.

A roquette salad with asparagus and artichokes, that was quite ordinary, dn-4.jpgexcept for the truffle slice on top, unlike the other two parts of the course, but which cleared the palate.   

A bisque of tomatoes and langouste with a langouste ravioli and a truffle slice followed, but the other flavors could not stand up to the tomato.   (Linda is wearing her new Christmas package shirt for the festive occasion.)dn-5.jpg

A piece of capon “demi-deuil” (ie: with truffle slices inserted under the skin) followed. A bottle of DN truffle oil was supplied, which was needed as the capon was a bit dry. It was accompanied by a truffled purée of Jerusalem dn-6.jpgartichokes which was absolutely sensational.   

The meal ended with a very good layered raspberry, cream and chocolate concoction served in a big martini glass. The wine list is quite sparse; we had a St Chinian, Canet Vallette, 2003, which was pleasant and went well. The menu was 45 € @ and the whole bill for two was 150€, which is quite a bargain (and a small fraction of what papa charges.) The small à la carte menu included risotto or tagliatelli with truffle cream.  There is also a hamburger with foie gras and truffles served with old-style fried potatoes.

The clientele was all French and interested in the cuisine. DN isn’t in any guide yet and this blog post may be the first writeup in English. There is a shelf of DN products for sale (in competition with Terre de Truffes??) The truffle oil was from the Piedmont and Sandrine had told us that the smoked chestnuts were too. The décor is simple and modern; there is a DVD screen dominating one wall showing a four piece ensemble and singer playing sort of modern
New Orleans folk/swing songs. It wasn’t as annoying as most young folks’ music, although it got quite repetitive. The tables are well spaced and the noise level is not a problem even with the music.
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I predict that Benjamin will go far and that we will be back at his restaurant soon.

Le Diamant Noir 2

(January 6, 2007) Inspired by Mike and Linda’s review of dinner at this new Nice restaurant, we decided to try a mid-day meal, and had a very different, but pleasurable experience. Lunch is quite a different situation from the dinner you read about above. There is an à la carte menu and then two fixed-price menus, one at 18 “carats” and the other at 24 ”carats.” We chose the 24 carat menu (Price? You guessed right, 24€), and then Sandrine explained to us that all the courses, including dessert, would come out on one large plate. OK. A little different but it is lunch. The plate, when it arrived, and it arrived fairly quickly, was divided into sections, much like the old children’s plates we used to have way back when.  In one section was a glass containing a frothy, wonderful version of pumpkin soup. Another little section of the plate had cannelloni stuffed with ricotta and pine nuts and bathed in truffle oil. In a larger section there was a sauced slice of veal and a bowl of truffle-ed risotto. All of these were served at room temperature and were delightful. The dessert was a chocolate affair with a soft, mousse and a crusty base.With a glass of champagne, a bottle of red wine from Langedoc-Rousillon, and coffee, the bill came to 108€, not a bad deal for the food quality, but for that price one would like to linger without buying that second bottle of wine which we uncharacteristically resisted. Le Diamant Noir delivers food fast, but certainly not fast food. There are no complaints about the food.  It was great.

Gary and Varian

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