On the border of France with Italy, the Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco, breaks all stereotypes at his iconic Mirazur restaurant – he is neither French nor Italian, and still he works magic with the local Mediterranean ingredients. Having trained under Bernard Loiseau at La Côte d’Or (three stars in the Michelin guide), Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athénée, and Guy Martin at another Parisian gourmand dame Le Grand Véfour, his resume qualifies him for culinary independence.
In 2012, the chef was awarded two Michelin stars for his own restaurant, the Mirazur. His, by nature-inspired molecular cuisine grasped the trend of the recent years focused on light and by ingredients driven food. Consistently, his restaurant has been voted into the Top 50 restaurants in the world by the San Pellegrino & Aqua Panna guide. Between 2014 -2017 it landed the highest position in France. His individual style has been praised, yet in terms of really showing the local bounty at its best, one needs to be in tune with his ideas rather than searching for a satisfying yumminess.
As you park or are dropped off bellow the rocky cliff of the Alpes-Maritimes, walk through the garden path into the contemporary wide-windowed building and savour the visual welcome by the stunning sea and garden views. It feels refreshing, pure. Simple design and nature pop out wherever your gaze lands. From the blue Mediterranean, the rocks and flowers laid on the tables to the pebble-shaped sofas on the terrace, everything is about highlighting the Mirazur’s concept of connecting with nature. The dress code is relaxed. Often, the locals dine in jeans while the usual Michelin diners sit straight in jackets and white collar shirts.
The food concept by Mauro Collagreco is focused on showcasing purity, nature, sea and the land. A raw egg and a béarnaise sauce with caviar served on a nest of dry grass? Get yourself ready for adventure, since this is the classic amouse-bouche à la Mauro Colagreco. Oyster ravioli with pears come next as a complimentary surprise before the ordered plates arrive. All items presented online can be changed every day and serve more as a guidance. For the twentieth anniversary of the restaurant’s existence, there was a special degustation menu composed of the chef’s signature plates. We went for it that last time. At the end, you get a print out of the dishes that you were eating to memorise the special occasion.
Typically, the chef proposes à la carte or a degustation menu. According to Colagreco, French sauces are too heavy (like Michel Guerard‘s Cuisine Minceur), so he substitutes them with “the scents of herbs or flowers to flavor a vinaigrette or use them to extract taste, which also helps to purify the dish.” If it works is up to your palate.
The menu à la carte at Mirazur is built around the selection of one of the three concepts for starter, main course as well as dessert. For the appetisers:
- Chlorophyll / Vegetables from our garden
- Terra / The finest produce from our valleys
- Acqua / From sea or river
The Chlorophyll was “Salade d’Haricots” or long beans with cherries and pistachio vinaigrette. It was crisp and fresh, yet not memorable. Sure, it looked like a painting and I was hesitant to eat it at first so not to spoil the beauty on the plate. We also tried Acqua of Sea Bass carpaccio served with red fruits purèe, fresh almonds, raspberries, begonia flower, virgin olive oil, and lime. The quality of the fish was superb and the ingredients original, yet you must enjoy a lot raw fish with berries.
For the main courses at á la carte Mirazur:
From the sea or fresh water: Fish of the day or Assortment of shellfish or crustaceans
The fish of the day was a pink Sea Bream with courgette, onion bouillon, smoked monkfish with sage, stripes of cod, and spring onion flowers. Lots of different and quite exotic sounding edibles on the plate so it was a playful journey with my fork picking each ingredient individually as well as combining them together.
The shellfish of the day were the almost raw “Gamberoni” shrimps served simply over an onion bouillon. A true feast for seafood lovers. Nice. The San Remo prawns and shrimps are renown for their delicate texture and served often along the Riviera.
From the land:
“Meat” of the moment or “The forgotten and transformed bits“. The latter sounds like a philosophical verse rather than a meal, yet in modern gastronomy that is what stirs curiosity.
If you feel like finishing with dessert or picking from the local cheese selection sourced from the market in Menton and small artisanal producers in Sospel. I was not particularly impressed by the goat cheeses at Mirazur, the rest was quite good. The bread served with the cheese neither did stood up to the French standards.
To drink, wines from all over France, Italy, New Zealand and the chef’s native Argentina (Maison GRAFFIGNA). In summer, rosé is a great starter – a Corsican Faustine from Renucci Vignola was a bolder style than the fine Provençal classics. The selection of wines by the glass is extensive and well-priced (less than €10 per glass). The wine selection by the sommelier tends to be our favourite highlight of any meal at Mirazur.
On the restaurant’s website, there is always one featuring recipe elaborated for the adventurous home cooks.
Visits: June 2013 & 2016
Price: Three-course dinner menu for €85 or set price for starters €29, mains €39, desserts €19.
Wed-Sun: Lunch: 12:15–2:00 pm, Dinner: 7:15–10:00 pm
30 Avenue Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton, France
+33 4 92 41 86 86