David and I couldn’t leave France without at least one french fine dining experience. We tried to get into L’Ane Rouge (the Red Donkey) at the Nice Port on the weekend, and were told to come back on the Monday (as it was fully booked). We were in luck on the Monday night, but not for the terrace. Even so, were were close to the sea air and loved the beautiful dining room!
The moment we were seated, we knew were were in for something special. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming for me in the beginning. When I go somewhere that is SO formal (and in this case, SO french), I can feel out of place and a little nervous. The wine list looked like the bible, and it was hard to communicate with the very french staff. However, much like my other experiences on this trip, the staff warmed up to us by the end of the meal and I found myself relaxing with every amazing course!
While you can order a la carte, there were three tasting menus offered. We chose the menu with the most courses – and it also looked like it was the most special.
Our “Baie des Anges” tasting menu began with an amuse-bouche. We really have no idea what was included on this plate, other than a wonderful foam that we think was avocado-based with lemon and garlic, as well as small bites with eggplant and avocado. We knew we were in for something special right away!
Our next starter was called La Patience, and was a wonderful surprise that brought together asian and indian flavours in a soft and perfectly blended way. There was a small bite of a spring roll with shrimp that had a lovely light and fresh sesame brightness. The deep ginger taste of the curry dish (not a soup and not a paste – somewhere in between) was heavenly. The olive bread that was served with it was also really special.
The next dish truly knocked our socks off! The small ravioli with Nicoise-style vegetables and a poached egg with truffles was divine! It is one of those dishes we will always remember. To start with, I am usually not a poached egg or runny egg lover (David totally is though). I know enough from cooking shows what a perfectly poached egg looks like – and this was it! Beautiful golden yolk that gently folds open when you cut through the egg. The yolk also bound all of the flavours of this dish together in a creamy and smooth way, accentuating the tomato, basil, truffle, red pepper and olive in the rest of the dish. Such a gorgeous dish to look at, and incredibly tasty.
The next dish brought together pork and fish in a really unique way. The anglerfish was placed on a piece of pork belly, and wrapped in lobster butter. As we tasted this dish, it brought “oh wow” and “oh damn” to our lips! The warmth of the pork, combined with the firmness and freshness of the white fish was really delightful, and the lobster butter brought it all together in a warm and inviting way. David thinks the kicker to this dish must have been a touch of Pernod anise liquor.
The main course didn’t look as amazing as the previous, but smelled amazing and was deeply satisfying. The roasted beef was soft and rich, combined with garlic and sautéed mushrooms in a highly reduced sauce (that may have included truffle). The homemade “gnocchi” that accompanied it was like a deconstructed scalloped potato that was very thinly sliced. Everything here was intensely flavoured.
The last two dishes were dessert, and were really artistic and light (the perfect end to a wonderful meal). The limoncello baba with fresh strawberries also include fresh figs (my favourite) and a sugar crisp. This was followed by “Mignardises” – basically lovely small bites of strawberry jellies, pistachio marshmallow and a walnut cake.
We left L’Ane Rouge feeling satisfied and like we had gone on a very special french culinary journey. We highly recommend this beautiful restaurant for a special and unforgettable french meal.