La Merenda, Nice, 10/20/17

exterior
exterior

La Merenda is a small place with a chalkboard menu and you either have to go by or try and get someone to answer the phone to get a reservation, which is a must.  Tables are covered by a paper runner, small and closely put together along each of the facing walls.   They are close enough that you will probably end up in conversation with your neighbors which really adds to the experience as a number of nationalities were represented there that evening.  At the end of the room is a tiny kitchen which produces all the food served by one nice waiter for seatings at 7:00 or 9:00 at dinner.  He was friendly, helpful and amazingly efficient – attending to your needs yet not making you feel rushed.   The wine selection is limited – about a half dozen wines.   Portions are generous and we ordered way more than we could eat but wanted to be able to sample a number of the chef’s dishes.  

sign in the window
sign in the window
open kitchen
open kitchen
interior
interior
interior
interior
table set up
table set up
Frankie appreciates having salt on the table
Frankie appreciates having salt on the table

 

We started with the fried squash blossoms.  They were baby ones dotted with a bit of salt that really brought them to life.  They were crisp, hot and delicious.

fried squash blossoms
Beignets de Fleurs de Courgette (fried zucchini squash blossoms)
another angle
another angle
closer
closer
wine
wine

 

The onion tart was another wonderful dish.  The crisp and short crust was filled with sweet caramelized onions.  It was a wonderful example of a simple dish done right.

onion tart
Tarte de Menton (onion tart)
from the side
from the side
Frankie liked the cartoon creatures
Frankie liked the cartoon creatures

 

Bread is served and is a chewy interior with a very crisp crust.  Perfect for snacking or for mopping up bits of sauce.

bread
bread
chef in the kitchen
chef in the kitchen

 

We split an order of the  pesto pasta.  The noodles were thicker than some but perfectly tender and the pesto stayed an amazingly brilliant color of green.  The coloring was supplied by spinach.   This dish was full of flavor and lovely.

pasta
Pâtes au pistou (pesto pasta)
closer
closer

 

Beef stew was filled with good tender chunks of meat with nice flavor.  Unfortunately many of the beef chunks suffered from dryness that is so common when the meat does not have enough fat content.  Accompanying it were sticks of chickpea pancakes that were cut and fried.  They really looked like slices of potato but the taste was more interesting.

stew
Daube of Beef (beef stew)
closer
closer
Frankie thought the glasses were just her size
Frankie thought the glasses were just her size

 

The lentils and really tasty sausage was a better entree.  Nicely seasoned it provided wonderful flavor in a dish of “comfort food”.

beans
Lentilles saucisses “Perugine” (pork sausage with lentils)
closer
closer

 

For dessert a wine poached pear was nice with not an overwhelming sweetness.  It was pretty and tasty.

pears
Poached pears
another angle
another angle
Frankie liked the flowers
Frankie liked the flowers

 

A “torte de bliss” was a dessert pie of Swiss Chard.  A new dessert idea for me; it was fun.  Studded with pinenuts in a buttery, short crust it was different and again not too sweet but a good finish for the meal.

pie
Swiss chard pie
other side
other side
from the top
from the top
Chef and Frankie
Chef Dominique Le Stanc and Frankie

 

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