Top Table: Mirazur, Menton, South of France

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The Independent Travel

Location

Mirazur is at 30 avenue Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton (00 33 4 92 41 86 86), set in a terraced clifftop lemon-grove, on the long and winding frontier road leading from the South of France to Italy.

Clientele

Eclectic. At lunchtime, it's camera-toting tourists. Afternoon tea and happy hour brings the expatriates of Menton wearing straw hats and white shorts, who remember when Cocteau and Picasso used to paint the town. The evening brings a belle clientele from along the coast. Claudia Schiffer, David Coulthard, Boris Becker and friends of owner Michael (Café Fish) Likierman.

Ambience and decor

Paradise among the balmy palms, instant regeneration of batteries guaranteed. Stunning décor by Rick Mather who transformed a former 1940s café into a four-storey brasserie and bar. It's minimal state-of-the-art steel, glass, wood and chrome. A million miles from traditional Menton architecture – but "the idea was to preserve the period atmosphere", explains Mather.

Romance factor

High. A permanent exhibition of photographer Lucien Clergue's tasteful black and white nudes and Triptyque des Palmes decorates the walls. In the summer, the wide deck overlooking the Med will do the trick. In the winter, snuggle up in front of the stone fireplace.

Service

Led by Vincent Rouard (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1996). The suave Vincent tucks you into your table and looks after you like a baby. Nothing is too much trouble for him or his very professional team.

 

Menu

Created by Michelin two-star Jacques (La Bastide Saint Antoine, Grasse) Chibois. It's contemporary bistro food with a Mediterranean accent. What you get are local products, a culinary spin on lemons, olive oil and the catch of the day.

Price

Lunch: starter, main course and dessert Fr184; Dinner: starter, main course, dessert Fr243 with wine or à la carte.

Wine list

Good value, interesting world wines from Italy, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, California and Provence. From Fr100 to Chateau Lynch Bages '96 at Fr990.

Oh yeah, and the food

Starters include brandade de morue with fresh tomatoes, lifted to new heights with vintage balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs. Mop it up with fresh breads, served in a real dough bread-basket. Mains include Denti, a local sea-bass type fish, roasted on a bed of lemons and fennel, sprinkled with onion juice and ground cumin. Be sure to save some room for the Provençal cheeses. And the desserts are sublime, so pay a supplement and taste them all. Wild wood strawberry shortcake with beetroot sorbet, verbena roast peaches with olive oil ice-cream, triptyque au citron (they do things with lemons here that you would never dream of), the thoroughly wicked Chocolat pur Caraibes, or refreshing sorbet citronelle.

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