Le Petit Nice is the only restaurant in Marseille to receive a 3 Michelin star rating. It is in a luxury hotel that overlooks the water with Gérald Passedat as the chef. The dining room has windows on 3 sides of its hexagon shape that overlook the water and lights of the city. It was a lovely view even in the dark when you could’t see as much. It was a bit hard to find the entry as we were walking to it. A taxi would know to call at the gate to the parking lot but in the meantime we got to look into the kitchen from the passage way alongside the building. The well spaced cloth covered tables are good sized and set with comfortable swivel chairs. No music plays in the background, candles are on the tables and lights are slightly dimmed. It is old school enough that the ladies menus don’t have prices. They offer several tasting menus and an a la carte menu which is mostly seafood and vegetables. Service was good as was portion control of the tasting menu.
With some nice thin, crisp breadsticks came a broth of lobster. You had to pick a “tea bag” filled with herbs to provide extra seasoning. It was a blue liquid steeped in your bowl while they brought out focaccia and then cut you a slice. It was seasoned with some oil and was tasty and so fresh. The broth was nice.
An amuse of red tuna was presented in beet juice with shredded Daikon radish. The tuna was exceptional.
An oyster was under a thin sheet of skinned sea breem. The French oyster was well complimented by the fish and a bit of yellow purée was on the side of the plate if you wanted additional seasoning. It was good.
Southern Fish in Caravan was more sea breem with botarga and Crystal caviar from China. Some bits of the fish were called ‘cracklings’ because they were deep fried and provided a nice contrast with the cauliflower purée with fish extraction and cauliflower jus. The botarga was cut into thick chunks that also added texture as well as some smokiness. The cauliflower thickened into a good sauce and went well with all the other ingredients. An excellent dish.
The kitchen sent out a tray with the various seafood being used and the presenter answered questions and pointed out the various fish.
The Lucie Passedat Sea Bass was a piece of bass topped with a truffle slice and served with a bowl of zucchini emulsion. The bass was topped with an attractive arrangement of zucchini . The fish was cooked at a low temperature and it yeilded a moist tender piece of fish. The emulsion was topped with a truffle slice but also studded with bits of truffle that really didn’t have much truffle flavor. Both bowls held wonderful dishes that were good mixed or eaten separately.
More breads were offered, baguettes and white rolls.
Veil of the Catch of the Day and Cuttlefish Reduction were next. The croaker fish was cooked in a low temperature then pan seared and topped with some crispy skin and was sitting in a cuttlefish reduction. Alongside was a pan seared gnocchi that was sitting in an octopus bolognese sauce. The gnocchi was soft and gooey and went well with the spicy sauce. Both bowls were good but I wasn’t sure that they complimented each other but they didn’t fight either. I enjoyed them both, separately.
Sea urchin was served with celeriac. It was fanned out and had a jelly like texture. It was mildly flavored but not a compelling dish. It looked better than it was.
“My Sea Garden” was Hake fish with shrimp, oyster, clam, cuttlefish, leeks, seaweed and mussels in a sea water emulsion accented with plankton olive oil. Alongside was a plate of some fried shrimp heads, which you ate whole. They mostly were a bit of crispiness with a slight shrimp flavor. The hake soup was full of things and interesting with some parts being better than others and rating an overall nice.
Cheeses from Philippe Oliver were a nice selection and all tasty but the star here was the bread that came with the course. It was tasty, chewy bread stuffed with figs. It was delicious and perfect to go with cheese.
The pre-dessert was an avocado with white chocolate purée and frozen purée of pomegranate in a pomegranate sauce. The avocado was good with the white chocolate and mixed well with the cool sorbet. The pomegranate seeds added a fun texture. It was different and good.
Dessert was several items. Earl Grey tea with honey was made into ice cream and topped with a crisp and alongside was a turnover with pistachio and honey emulsion with milk. Chestnut and honey was gooey and sweet. The last part was a couple pieces of nougat. They were all okay.
Delicacies were apple, quince and coriander in a white ball. They tasted heavily of cilantro. With them were bars of a cereal and date purée. They were chewy and good. An orange jelly was sticky and average. Some passion fruit was in a shell that was soft and awful. Chocolates were in an oval shape, dusted with cocoa and filled with black olives. They were not good. Lastly was a celeriac cream in a cup and I didn’t care for it either.