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Mirazur

30 Avenue Aristide Briand, Menton, 06500, France

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Mirazur nestles on a hillside literally yards from the Italian border, near the town of Menton. It has a spectacular view back across the bay towards Monaco, with both the downstairs bar and the dining room with lovely picture windows showing off the view to its best. The chef is Mauro Colagresco, who has trained under Alain Passard as well as Alain Ducasse and cooked briefly at Grand Vefour in Paris. Mirazur opened in March 2006 to considerable acclaim, especially by the GaultMillau guide, and quickly gained a Michelin star. I went with someone who knows his cooking well, and so had high hopes. The dining room itself is upstairs and has a stone floor, with camouflage green walls and windows open to the sea below. There is a short, four page wine list. Chateau Latour 1989 was listed at EUR 475 for a wine that you could buy for around EUR 225. Louis Jadot Chablis 2006 was listed at EUR 42 for a wine that retails at about EUR 13. 

Very good Italian-style breadsticks appear on the table, to be followed by three different breads: a brioche with cinnamon and almond, a foccacia of olive and fennel (both 17/20) and a rather dull country bread, which was bought in rather than made (13/20).  We began with a selection of vegetables grown in the garden below the restaurant. A large, mild green chilli pepper was stuffed with tuna, courgette was stuffed with aubergine and an anchovy sauce, and there was a courgette flower with a pea puree, and a sweet onion with bacon fat. These were lovely (18/20), and I was really hopeful of a fine meal in prospect.

Shallot cream with green apple, mint and a seaweed foam worked better than I was expecting and was reasonably refreshing (16/20). Next were several tomatoes with a tomato jelly, saffron oil and a few leaves for decoration, the tomatoes very good (16/20).  Parsnip veloute with coffee cream and pistachios was a very odd combination, but the flavours were at least fairly pure (15/20). Better was excellent mackerel, cherry wood smoked with daikon, which avoided being either too salty or too smoky (18/20). A salad of French, Italian and white beans came next, simple but good (16/20). 

A raw langoustine was served with verbena granite and lemon leaves. The langoustine did not taste very fresh (14/20). Ragout of assorted courgettes (including the Riviera variety “trompette”) and herbs was next, with fresh almonds and a vegetable sauce; pleasant but no more (15/20). A risotto of barley with bonito and mussels was just a bad idea (13/20). Next was hake chin (and tongue), kokotxas in Spanish, with a parsley foam and potato foam, which I did not enjoy at all (13/20). Another weird idea was tuna brain, pan fried and in a confit style, with some beetroot; the pairing with the beetroot made some sense, as the acidity of the beetroot offset the livery sweetness of the tuna brain, but why on earth would anyone take a fine piece of tuna and serve it this way? (14/20).

Fresh prawns (the red gamberi from the San Remo area) were served with courgette, papaya and pesto sauce, but had a distinctly odd taste, a hint of iodine suggesting they were far from fresh (13/20). Worse was a piece of cod with vegetable and baby squid, that was almost raw (10/20). Roast pig tail, mash and pig juice was cooked sous vide, then pan fried to get a crispness, unfortunately lacked seasoning (14/20). 

Hibiscus soup with verbena sorbet did nothing for me (14/20). Neither did a sesame seed sponge cake with coconut sorbet and mascarpone, another jarring combination (13/20). Coffee was unfortunately not hot, but served with some pleasant chocolate truffles, passion fruit jelly and financiers (16/20). 

The overall score is the arithmetic average of the dishes tried, and I found this a rather frustrating meal. There were elements of the meal that showed high class produce and a light cooking touch, yet time and again such enjoyment was washed away by unsuitable flavour combinations or, in the case of the cod, just plain bad cooking. I know from others that Mauro can cook really well, and seems to have been doing so a year ago, but the food he is doing now seems to not show off his capabilities at all. He seems a chef drifting off course, and I hope that he can recapture the magic that apparently was operating soon after the restaurant opened. For now, based on what we had tonight, this is restaurant is hard to recommend.

The bill was EUR 165 per person, with some pretty modest wine. 

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