Curiously for a city right on the Mediterranean, Nice has never had many restaurants with a view of le grand bleu. Now one of the best chefs in town, Jouni Tormanen, has moved to La Réserve in a handsome Art Déco building perched right on the sea, and the views from the two dining rooms—a bistrot downstairs and the restaurant L’Atelier du Goût up—are as stunning as what’s on the plates.
Tormanen, a young Finn whose mentors include Alain Ducasse and Spain’s Ferran Adrià, has broadened his Riviera-based culinary horizons with more cosmopolitan but still very market-driven menus. A dinner for two at L’Atelier began with delicious fish soup and a sublime risotto with pricey shavings of Italian white truffle. Next came young red mullets and succulent boeuf à la ficelle—beef and baby vegetables poached in beef stock. For dessert: a melted chocolate tart and an orange soufflé with combawa (Kaffir lime). Lunch in the bistrot was even better—the room has a nice buzz, and Tormanen seems more comfortable in the bistrot idiom. First courses of zucchini risotto and a dainty Niçoise salad with grilled red tuna were followed by a perfect cod steak layered with chorizo petals and garnished with Basque piperade (tomatoes, peppers and onions), and a grilled tandoori-style coquelet (baby rooster) with raïta (yogurt sauce with cucumber, cumin and fresh coriander). For dessert there was a blueberry-studded cake—a wink at Tormanen’s Finnish roots—and poached rhubarb with wild strawberries and vanilla panna cotta.
60 blvd Franck Pilatte, Nice. Bistrot, €70 per person without wine, 04.97.08.29.98; L’Atelier du Goût, €130 per person without wine, 04.97.08.14.80.
Originally published in the September 2007 issue of France Today