Friday, June 20, 2014

French Eats: La Roustide

Our meal at La Roustide was maybe the best of our whole trip. The menu is super small and changes seasonally, because they take care to make each item as carefully and best they can, so there's that. The chef is super into truffles, so there's that. The decor makes you feel like you're sitting in someone's home, so there's that.
It's a relatively unassuming restaurant in a kind of residential area. Reservations can be made right from the restaurant website. FYI, the link for reservations will take you to La Fourchette (The Fork) which is France's version of OpenTable.



I was incredibly smitten with the decor. It seriously looked like someone's home and it was super charming.
Here's what the menu looked like when we were there (in May). We decided to get the truffle prix-fixe menu and then one of each à la carte main course (since there were three and there were four of us and that would make four mains) and then a dessert.
We were started off with a simple (complimentary) amuse bouche of crostini with chopped olives. I'm not a fan of olives so I gave this away. We also got a bottle of a crisp and sweet white wine, which was quite good, but I was so enamored with the food, I guess I forgot to snap a photo.
They served us water in a ceramic pitcher; how cute!
For the first course of the truffle menu, we were served this velouté Dubarry et creme fouettée à la truffe. A velvety whipped cauliflower cream soup with truffle. I'm not a fan of cauliflower but I loved this soup. It was rich without feeling greasy or heavy and seasoned perfectly. The truffle definitely complemented the creaminess of the soup. By the way, I thought the bowl was super cute too.
Our next starter was the tarte fine à la purée de févette, petite pois, pancetta, roquette et truffe. It was a tart of pureed beans, peas, pancetta, arugula, and truffle. This salad was so fresh! The vinaigrette was light and lemony with just a hint of mustard. There was a good variety of textures, from the crispy pancetta and crunchy radish to the squishy al dente peas. The pea puree blobs tasted like springtime and the aged balsamic vinegar dots were so rich and sweet. The flavors were incredibly balanced and again, the truffles just perfectly complemented the elements of the dish.
Our third starter was la pomme de terre en robe des champs à la crème de truffe. Potatoes with their skins (literally translated it's "in their jackets") with truffle cream. Talk about a perfect potato! I think they were yukon gold (or a similar variety) because it wasn't overly starchy, which I appreciated because they were sitting in a creamy sauce already. Truffles and potatoes kind of go hand in hand because potatoes don't have much inherent flavor. This dish was another home run. We were dipping our bread to mop up the leftover truffle cream after we demolished the potatoes. And, as you can see, the chef was not stingy with the truffle.
For our main course, we got two of the duck dish, magret de canard, courgette et pleurotes, émulsion foie gras et truffe, because one was part of the truffle menu and remember? I said we ordered one of each main dish. Anyway, this was duck breast, zucchini and mushrooms, foie gras and truffle emulsion. The duck was the star of the meal! It was so good. As soon as they dropped these down in front of us, all you heard was clinking and clanking of forks and knives, chewing, "mmm"-ing, and more clinking and clanking. I think as soon as we each had our first bite and realized how delicious the duck was, we all kind of inhaled it in three or four minutes. The duck was super tender, incredibly flavorful, and perfect. Usually duck is kind of fatty and oily but not in this case!
The dish came with a side of zucchini (courgette). The one on the truffle menu comes sprinkled with lots of truffle, of course, and the other is unadorned.
One of the other main courses we got was gnocchi au parmesan et basilic. Simple gnocchi with parmesan and basil. The gnocchi were soft and light, and even though a few were kind of clumped together, it was still delicious. I loved the creamy basil-flavored sauce and the crisp red radishes.
And last but not least, the fourth main dish was homard entier dans sa bisque, pommes de terre, asperges et artichauts. Whole lobster in its own bisque, potatoes, asparagus, and artichokes. The lobster was super tender and the creamy bisque was so good! It wasn't heavy or thick, it was actually kind of brothy and light. The veggies were all cooked perfectly and I loved the way the artichoke tasted covered in the lobster bisque.
The dessert that was part of the truffle menu was nage de fraises gariguettes à la menthe, rhum, olive confite, citron vert. "Swimming" gariguette (gariguette is a variety) strawberries with mint, rum, candied olive, and lime. This was like a fresh strawberry soup. It was a lovely balance of sweet and tart and the whipped cream and mint were a lovely complement to the fresh berries.
The other dessert we picked was the moelleux au chocolat au coeur caramel au beurre salé et truffe. Molten chocolate cake with salted butter caramel ice cream and truffle. This was super rich and decadent and amazing. The contrast of the hot, sweet cake with the cold, salty ice cream was perfect. This dessert totally hit the spot.
We all loved La Roustide. S said that if we had one more night in Nice, she'd want to come here again. That's how good it was! I definitely recommend it. I mean, I would tell you to go to Nice specifically to go to this restaurant.

Cheers!

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