Modern cuisine


Mirazur is a contemporary restaurant in a quaint French town of Menton, just a stone throw away from Italy.

The location is anything but perfect. The main dining room of the restaurant is overlooking the sea and the old town with the small harbour and a clock tower. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic dinner, even if you are not into fine dining.

The restaurant is a short distance away from the town centre. You can come here by taxi, or you could stroll along the sea front, as we did. It’s not crowded like Nice or Monaco. And you can enjoy the Azure Coast views and the evening sea breeze all by yourself.

The chef, Mauro Colagreco, has been on San Pelegrino’s Best Chefs list for at least five years. The restaurant earned its first Michelin star in 2007, and the second one in 2012. Yet, Mirazur is not the name that springs to mind when I think of the world’s top restaurants. To admit my ignorance, I did not know it existed until my partner booked a table for dinner there. Now, that I’ve been there, I have a theory why that is.

The dishes are delicate, well executed, but somewhat understated. If you are expecting an Argentinian flair, you will not find it here. As the chef himself described in one of his interviews, he “left his cultural and culinary past behind him, so that he could start from scratch”.

His signature dish – Beetroot and oscietre caviar – is refined and unusual. Kudos also go to the sommelier; the wine paired with this course and most of the others worked wonderfully.

We chose the set menu with the chef’s classic dishes. Scampi with garden vegetables and chamomile consomme, Oyster Gillardeau, Hake fish and Pigeon from Marie Le Guen were equally well executed.

The chef’s understated style is also noticeable in deserts. Apple Granny Smith soup was my favourite.

As I am writing this post, the results of the World’s 50 Best awards is out. Mirazur takes the 3rd place, overtaken only by Osteria Francescana and El Celler de Can Roca. Well deserved? Perhaps. Am I surprised? For sure.

As the LA Times critic, Jonathan Gold, cleverly points out, nobody just happens to eat at Noma. It’s become an institution and a Mecca for the food enthusiasts and chefs alike. Privileged as I feel to be able to compare the new establishment to the “old” Noma, I am also deeply impressed with how it managed to re-invent itself once again.

It seems that the ethos that defined the Noma we all got to know and love are still there. If anything, it’s even more seasonal and even more inventive.

No meat on the menu today. It’s the seafood season and the menu is an extravaganza of everything that a Nordic sea has to offer. It starts with the sea snail broth. The taste is delicate and hearty, quite unexpected really.

The dishes that follow in a metronome fashion do not fail to excite: venus clams, the mussel, the dried fruit and shrimps, trout roe and eggs.

It’s hard not to be fooled by these beautifully presented and minimalist dishes. The tastes are easy and clean, which no doubt took hours (if not days) to orchestrate.

The sea food platter will forever stay in my memory, if only just because of the hundred-year-old mahogany clams that survived through the two world wars and everything that follows, only to end up on our table.

The horse mussel ragout is impressive even to the most determined meat-eater. If this was a blind-tasting event, I would never even dream of guessing the key ingredient.

The main dish of the evening, the head of the cod, is simply wow. It’s tender and unbelievably tasty. It is like a perfect exclamation mark in this dining experience.

The desserts – the sea themed of course – are what reminded me once again about Rene’s unyielding determination to avoid sugar. Do not expect a chocolate for the road. Pear and kelp ice cream; cloudberries and pine cones; sugar kelp tart; plankton cake. Only at Noma.

Ever since this place opened in 2016, it’s been on our list of places to visit. The time has come and we finally managed to get ourselves over there this Easter.

The venue is great, in a typical Nordic modern style, very spacious and cool. The restaurant is adjacent to a quaint bar with the same name, where diners can have their pre- or post- dinner drinks.

The place already has a Michelin star, so we decided to go for a 8 servings tasting menu to try as much as this restaurant has to offer. And what a big mistake.

Neither of the first two courses (Lumpfish Roe & Baerii Sturgeon) were particularly impressive. The Yellow Beets that followed were interesting, but rather oily. The Lumpfish Head to Tail was the only course of the whole menu that I actually liked. With every subsequent course that followed the promise of an enjoyable meal got fainter.

As we were waiting for the courses to come, I was reading this review in The Telegraph and wondering to myself which restaurant that writer visited, as I failed to match his description to my immediate experience. At the end, presented with the €200 per person bill, we had nothing but a soured feeling of being cheated. So, is it the new Noma? Definitely not.

Having been to the Osteria now 5 times, this last visit was the best of them all. Not just for the dishes, but how the whole experience evolved in the last couple of years. The wine pairing went from strength to strength. And the service, as always, is impeccable.

Unsurprisingly our motley crew went for the Tutto menu, which is translated as Everything.

It starts with the Insalata di mare, not your usual kind of course. This variation reminded me of the earlier Caesar salad, much improved and full of flavour.

The next act, Mediterranean sole, is equally memorable. It’s light airy texture immediately associated with the title, which is no doubt a word play.

Then comes Burnt. As explained by the waiter, it’s meant as a jest towards one of the regions of Italy, where nearly every dish is a roast, and nearly every dish is… burnt.

Autumn in New York comes in a shape of big apple. It’s full of colour and flavour.

And then, of course, the legendary Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano. To start with a cliche, you haven’t lived if you have never tried the Five ages, the dish with a back story so wonderfully explained in the Netflix series.

Simply divine. The flavours and textures are hard to describe. Soufflé, sauce, foam, wafer and air are combined in one dish in perfect harmony. And while this is a classic, for me it’s truly a pinnacle of the experience.

The menu is not finished yet and still more dishes to follow, but the rest of the evening for me is a bit of a reminiscence of the five ages that finished so quickly and an anticipation of the next classic, the Lemon tart. As our waiter points out, Oops, they dropped it again.

Osteria Francescana

Via Stella, 22

41121 Modena


Tel. +39 059/223912