One of the most spectacular meals I’ve ever had was at Mirazur on the French Riviera. The dining experience was one of a well-directed, well-rehearsed gastronomic operetta, led by the Argentine chef extraordinaire, Mauro Colagreco. The restaurant’s cliffside location offers incredible views of the Mediterranean coast from Menton to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and beyond. Built into the hillside below the restaurant, a terraced garden cultivated by Colagreco and team provides fresh produce and flowers that make their way onto each and every plate.

On the evening my boyfriend, Charles, and I dined at Mirazur, we arrived on time for an 8 PM reservation, which I had made several weeks in advance. We were led to a well-situated table up against a panoramic window, where we sat side-by-side so neither of us would miss out on the amazing vistas to be had. We ordered the menu découverte, a seven-course tasting with lots of little surprises in between.

From the moment the bread arrived, we knew we were in for a treat. Out came a freshly baked pain fleur with peppery extra-virgin olive oil and the French translation of Pablo Neruda’s poem, Ode to Bread. Needless to say, the poem was quite befitting.

For the first course, we were served œuf dans sa coque – egg in its shell – with a béarnaise sauce, creamed spinach, and caviar. The plating of the dish was a masterpiece in and of itself, and the plating of each subsequent dish was equally a work of art. Next came salade d’artichaut et fenouil – artichoke and fennel salad – with a lemon confit sauce.

For our first protein, we had a rather large portion of queue de homard – lobster tail – served with an espuma of parsley, mushrooms, and fried potatoes, followed by the pince de homard – lobster claw – served with a smoked sauce and an espuma of potato. The kitchen was firing up each course at a slow and steady pace, which gave us a chance to really enjoy each tasting with the perfect amount of pause in between.

The fifth course was, in my book, the pièce de résistance. Out from the kitchen came canard de Challans – Challans duck – served with carrot mousse and a citrus reduction. The plating of this dish was so pretty and colorful, with pops of orange from the carrot mousse, red from the duck breast, and green from the delicate garnish of nasturtium blossoms. The savory portion of the meal ended here.

As a palate cleanser, we were served soupe de pommes vertes – green apple soup – with a coriander biscuit and yogurt ice. Then a basket of twigs on a bed of green moss was placed in front of us. Charles and I looked at each other puzzled, when finally the server hinted that the twigs were actually dark chocolate. Quelle surprise…another clever twist from the kitchen of a truly inspired chef. For dessert, we were served glace à la mûre – blackberry sorbet – with a pink peppercorn cream and crystallized hibiscus. And of course, the meal ended with a plate of bonbons du jour.

At the end of the evening, we were each given a handsome printout of our menu découverte – a parting gift and reminder of that magical meal we once had at that enchanting restaurant on the French Riviera.

(Last visited in September, 2013)

#France

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