The season of Valentine’s Day is once again upon us, and for those wishing to treat their belles or beaux to a nice evening (at least culinarily,) we’ve assembled three suggestions through careful research for your degustatory pleasure:
By Karsten Ball
Le Bar à Huitres: though not exactly cozy—a better term for the interior décor might be “merchant marine”—the Bar à Huitres, run by a very pleasant older couple, offers excellent sea food dishes of all sorts, including the source of their name: oysters. Delivered fresh several times a week from the Marenne, the oysters are incredible: large, succulent and flavorful. What’s more, if you’re looking to eat in, follow what seems to be an established precedent and bring a tray—do “oyster carry out” and eat them at home (disclaimer: I’ve seen it done but haven’t tried it…) For those less tempted by the idea of raw bivalves, the seafood paella is reason enough to eat here—order a day ahead of time and reap the benefits. The generous portion is full of clams, shrimp, mussels and more. If you’re in it for the food, this is the place to go—you’ll chat with the owner, meet the very fat cat that lounges on the greeting table and leave full and satisfied.
Le Bar à Huitres; 14 rue Guyau
2.) Something special…
A Braïjade: We’ve all seen it a thousand times, that cave-like restaurant on the Rue Longue. Things run differently there—one server mans the place, slowly rotation out the several courses of your fixed-menu meal. Apparently, the specialty here is meat flambéed on a skewer: choose one of the larger menus for other worthwhile options, including escargots, elaborate spring salad arrangements and more, accompanied with the appropriate drinks. If the server likes you (just compliment the food profusely, it works every time), he’ll treat you to six or seven small glasses of his home-made liqueurs, including Schtroumpf (curaçao and calvados—a dangerous mix…) and almond. A Braïjade is a little old-fashioned, and the clientèle certainly confirms some Mentonese stereotypes, but the experience of a relaxed three-hour meal here is—in my mind—obligatory for every resident.
A Braïjade; on the upper rue longue
3.) Something casual:
La Petite Cave: You should really already know about this one—La Petite Cave is a crêperie located just down the steps across the square from Milady. Though not gourmet, the setting (which seems to have been a wine cellar or, more morbidly, a dungeon) is surprisingly warm. Popular with a younger crowd and Italians, the atmosphere is good and the food tasty. Gallettes and crêpes are generous and creative (La Mentonnaise in particular), and two or three will leave you happy that you came. Get a bottle of Norman cider and you’re assured of an enjoyable meal. My greatest recommendation: reserve a day ahead; the restaurant opens at 7:30 p.m., and I’ve arrived at 7:40 to no open tables. It’s relatively affordable and the perfect place if you want to keep things simple.
La Petite Cave; 6 Descente du Petit Port