Don Camillo Creations (Update)

January 10, 2008

5, rue des Ponchettes, Nice 04 93 85 67 95.(Closed on Sunday and Monday)(November and December  2007)  

It had been over a year since we had a very nice meal with Linda and Michael here.It had been good but not exciting so there had been no rush to get back (See Original Review,” below).So on a seasonably cool, November evening, we ambled over expecting the expected: a pleasant, but unoriginal, meal. Instead, we were absolutely blown away.

Everything was exciting, unusual and delicious. Perhaps, we said at the conclusion, one of, if not the best, tables in Nice.

Since we hadn’t expected this, we didn’t even have a camera or pen and paper. To correct that lapse, and share our “discovery” with friends, we arranged with David and Frédérique to return on December 15, this time to enjoy a meal and take notes.

Chef Marc Laville did not disappoint. We all had the 39€ menu and chose among the five dishes offered in each of the three courses.

Frédérique’s foie gras was poached in coffee and there were little caviar-shaped beads of coffee on a little spoon on her plate, as well as a small tatin of endive.

David’s deep-fried calamari stuffed with pig’s feet intrigued and delighted him.

blog_0915.jpgGary’s fried crab served in a paper cone with mushroom duxelles and a crab dip was lucious, and Varian’s sardines with a crusty cannelloni stuffed with beets were wonderful.

For their main courses, both Gary and Frédérique lapped up their filet de canette with a pumpkin crumble and chestnut pasta. blog_0919.jpg

David and Varian absolutely adored their ris de veau paired with Saint-Jacques, mushrooms and a souffléed gratin dauphinois that looked like a popover but when cut into just oozed creamy potatoes.

All of us were astonished at the variety, the creativity and the total success of everything on the menu.

Gary and Frédérique, again together in their choices, had a scrumptious chocolate souffle with a eucalyptus sorbet; and David’s cheesecake with raspberries was img_0921.jpgthe perfect dessert for him.

The cheese plate Varian chose, naturally, contained six perfectly ripened cheeses and a scoop of a savory tomato sherbert. All this was enjoyed with a lovely Couteaux Bellet Rouge, which at 45€ was fairly priced.

The four of us couldn’t stop talking about how terrific the food was and how interesting the choices in all areas were. This is definitely not the “same old same old” menu one sees in so many places.We think that Laville and his partner have hit their stride and we will be hearing a lot more about them.

blog_0925.jpgDon Camillo Creations – (Second Review)  (Spring 2007)  Now called “Don Camillo Creations,” this old favorite has yet another incarnation.

New paintings have replaced the jazz greats on the wall, but the rest of the décor remains the same. Not so, the kitchen, its equipe, and, therefore, the menu.

Partners Christophe Louche and Marc Laville have turned their sights to a more inventive cuisine, offering a Menu “Creations” with that day’s market inspirations at €48 and a three course menu with three choices in each course at €36 Euros.

Nobody will be surprised to hear that Linda, Mike, and Varian chose the “Creations” menu and were very pleased with it. The amuse bouche, queue de boeuf en gelee with mustard cream, was a great lead into an appealing array of dishes.

The foie gras poellee aux morilles et asperges melted in the mouth as well it should. The so-called bouillabaisse de St. Pierre et emulsion de rouille was less a soup and more fish with a sauce. In either guise it was delicious.

Many times in menus like this the meat course is the least exciting but not true this time.The filet de boeuf à la crème aux truffes was intensely flavored and perfectly accompanied by tubular pasta standing on end and baked with a sauce to hold it together.

Because the cheese had not been brought to room temperature earlier, some of the choices were pretty hard. There were some interesting tastes, however, especially some local chevres and a tomme.

Dessert was a trio—ice cream, raspberry mousse and cake.After our kir (3 of us) and coupe (1 of us), we drank a Toasc 2005 and then enjoyed a St Joseph 2004, both reasonably priced at €39 and €37, respectively.

Don Camillo Creations (Original Review)  (Spring 2007) This old stand-by keeps on pleasing, now serving what appears to be good niçoise (dare we say) cuisine with some modern refinements.

On the visual side, the room keeps getting better. Another redecoration updates the dining room in subdued gray tones with impressionist-like paintings of jazz greats lining the walls.

 The friendly maitre d’ is now helped by a perky and professional young lady; so the service moves along well at an efficient, leisurely pace.

The day’s market menu, still a bargain 32 euros, this time didn’t appeal as much as some of the a la carte dishes so we opted for choices.

The amuse bouche, a green pea mousse, was superb, just enough texture to make it interesting, with a strong taste of peas.

The pumpkin soup with ravioli (actually, from the menu de jour), was so good, so rich, it seemed like dessert. A venison daube and leg of lamb were both tasty and oh so tender.

We chose well for the wine: an Antinori Chianti Classico, 2003, a perfect companion for the soup, the mains, and the cheese and dessert. Gary’s chocolate whim of the day – a rich tarte – was lovely.

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