Saintly Protection for
The tiny Réparate specializes in the cuisine of Nice.
Editor’s note (Jan. 8, 2012): Réparate has closed, but is due to open soon in a new location. We’ll keep you posted.
By sheer coincidence, I went to Réparate twice last week, once for lunch with Meg Bortin, the Everyday French Chef, and once with two friends visiting from Britain.
Puzzled by the name Réparate, a word I’d never before heard, I asked Nicolas, the young man who owns and runs this tiny restaurant while his father slaves away in the kitchen, where it came from. Turns out that the Christian martyr Sainte Réparate is the patron saint of Nice.
The restaurant, with a simple, appealing decor consisting of dark-blue-green walls and pretty glass light fixtures, is watched over not by a statue of the saint, however, but by a lime-green papier-mâché tuna, the patron fish of Nice and the main ingredient in the salade niçoise that both the city and the restaurant are famous for.
Meg was hoping to get the recipe for the salade niçoise for her site and wanted to try it again. Dressed at the table by Nicolas, it is full of super-fresh quality ingredients, including mixed greens, anchovies, tuna, tomatoes,
olives, celery, sliced raw artichoke hearts and hard-boiled egg wedges.
While she dug into her big, satisfying salad, I sampled the lunch menu, a bargain at €13 for two courses, beginning with a bowl of excellent tarama, free of that awful food coloring another friend calls Chernobyl pink, served with three triangles of crustless whole-wheat toast. It was followed by fresh lieu jaune (yellow pollock) enlivened by a tasty tomato and black-olive sauce. I passed on dessert, knowing I would be back the next night to try it.
When I returned for dinner with Bill and Bruce, the place was full, and Nicolas was busy behind the little bar making cocktails. Our interest piqued, we asked him if he could make us martinis. He could and did. We watched while he meticulously chilled the glasses and pitcher with ice – obviously enjoying the ritual – before mixing up an unusual, extremely-dry martini that tasted odd at the first sip then began to reveal a panoply of interesting flavors and three delicious alcohol-soaked olives niçoises at the bottom of the glass. The secret ingredients were German bitters and saumure d’olives (olive brine).
Bill and Bruce shared what must be the best dinner deal in town: the assortiment niçois for two for €33. Both starter and main course, it includes the famous salade niçoise, plus tapenade, grilled peppers, petits farcis (stuffed vegetables), pissaladière (a sort of pizza with onion confit, anchovies, olives and thyme) and trucchia (an omelet made with swiss chard, pine nuts and parmesan cheese).
I was meat-hungry and wanted to try the steak, which Meg had highly recommended. She was right. It was a delicious faux filet (sirloin steak) smothered in a rich brown gravy chockfull of bits of two kinds of ham and served with tasty fried potatoes. This generous dish more than satisfied my carnivorous cravings.
I had started with a dish we all loved: goat cheese baked with a slice of spice bread. Sounds strange, but the sweet, spicy and cheesy combination was delicious.
For dessert, I had the lemon meringue pie, the third lemon tart I’ve had in a restaurant in the past couple of weeks. They were all different and all good. The star was definitely the one at Antoine de Montmartre, followed by this one, full of lemon zest and much tarter than the Bistrot Populaire version.
We accompanied the meal with a lovely 2010 bottle of Beaujolais Villages from Domaine de Nugues (€27).
The bad news is that Réparate will be closing soon in its current location. The good news is that it will reopen nearby. We’ll keep you posted.
Réparate: 64, rue Saint-Sabin, 75011. Métro: Saint-Sébastien-Froissart. Tel.: 01 55 28 63 98. Closed Saturday lunchtime, Sunday and Monday dinnertime. A la carte: around €30.
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