Driven to learn and discover Argentinian-born Mauro Colagreco set off to France in the early 2000´s to gain experience in some of the top restaurants.
He learned ”all the secrets” from Bernard Loiseau, developed his own sense of creativity and attention to detail with Alain Passard and studied perfection, refinement and rigour with Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenée in Paris.
In 2006 he took over the Mirazur restaurant in Menton. Very quickly, after just 10 months, he received his first Michelin star and in 2012 he received his second. Earlier this year Mirazur was also voted the 24th best restaurant in the world according to the San Pellegrino classification.
This summer I have had two meals at Mirazur. Both times I have been amazed not only by the restaurants beautiful location 100 metres away from the French-Italian border, but also by Mauro Colagrecos impressive skills of emphasizing and intensifying flavours in relatively simple ingredients. His food is creative, folding in the best of Mediterranean ingredients.
These are notes from my first meal.
The pain du partage had a nice crust and a fluffy interior and was served warm with an olive oil infused with ginger and the well sought after lemon from Menton. I enjoyed this bread very much on both occasions.
The nibbles were simple but good. The beet crisp with variations of beets and goat´s cheese had a wonderful deep flavour and there was a tartar of crisp vegetables and a foie gras cracker.
First dish to arrive consisted of oysters, seaweeds and cucumber. Oysters and cucumber can be a brilliant combination and this surely was a pretty dish, but I didn’t find the oysters as interesting as they can be. I like oysters that have long and complex flavours. Still, this was a light and fresh dish to start with.
Cannelloni de tourteaux was a dish of crab, watermelon, meringue, avocado mousse and different flowers and herbs. The cannelloni was made using watermelon instead of pasta showing some of the great technique Colagreco has figured out. Inside were soft, delicate and sweet crab meat and the meringue added texture to the dish and enhanced the crab’s sweet flavour. The avocado mousse was lovely and all the flavours together well controlled.
I loved the salade d´haricots. This was haricots at its best, dressed in a little pistachio and lemon oil, with pieces of incredibly sweet and juicy white peach. Some red onion shavings and rockets leafs added a nice sharpness to the dish. Any chef who can make a salad this interesting will get my full attention.
Another great dish was the clams with haricots, radish and clam juice. The juice was very carefully seasoned with liquorice which worked brilliantly with this dish; the sweet and crispy haricots, high quality clams with a beautiful salty taste and a soft, chewy texture and the light yet very flavourful clam juice. I had a Meursault wine with this dish and its modest tones of anise made this an outstanding food and wine pairing.
The languste came fresh out of the ocean the same morning and was killed moments before service. The quality was, of course, amazing. The meat was cooked to perfection and had a beautiful texture and a delicate, sweet taste. This was accompanied by caramelized onions and white beans. What a lovely moment with shellfish.
Next was brill, a nice creamy-white piece with a soft yet firm texture and a quite sweet taste. The peppery broth and chickpeas worked very well with the fish, being slightly bitter on taste with the right amount of acidity to lift and balance the sweetness.
Poitrine de porc was of superb quality and perhaps some of the best pork I have ever tasted. I have had some wonderful pork at Daniel Berlin Krog in Skåne-Tranås and with the Roca brothers in Girona, but Colagrecos pork surpassed them all. This piece of poitrine de porc had a crisp and salty crackling, wonderful fat and a compact yet tender meat with an incredible pork flavour. The sweet and sour fruits worked nice with the pork; still I could have enjoyed it on its own.
The first dessert to arrive was a carpaccio of figs with anise sorbet. This was a beautiful presentation and the figs were incredibly sweet. Simple, delicious and very satisfying – just as desserts should be.
Next was cannelloni de coriandre, or a reconstructed apple cake. I can’t remember I have ever tasted coriander with apples but it worked very well.
Some cannelés de Bordeaux, lemon macarons and chocolate was served with the coffee.
As mentioned above I am very impressed with what Mauro Colagreco is doing at Mirazur. This has to be counted as one of the top tables on the French Riviera and is well worth a detour.
I am very curious to come back here during another season to find out what he can create then.
Address: Avenue Aristide Briand, 30, Menton 06500, France
Telephone: 04 92 41 86 86
Pictures from my both visits at Mirazur can be found here