Menton is right at the end of the Côte d’Azur, where France’s coastline merges into Italy’s. It’s a grand old town with an enviable microclimate, and home to an exceptional restaurant. The owner is Argentine-born chef Mauro Colagreco, who came to France to learn under inspired chefs like the late Bernard Loiseau, Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard, owner of the three Michelin starred Arpège in Paris. In 2006, he opened Mirazur in Menton.
Still in his early 30s, Colagreco’s innovative style of cooking earned him applause immediately. Shortly after opening, influential critic François Simon gave him a rave review, and the Gault Millau guide dubbed him “revelation of the year”. In 2009, the same guide named him Chef of the Year, the first non-French chef ever to have been so honoured. Mirazur is now a gourmet destination and as it’s closed in the winter months, Colagreco can guest at restaurants in California, Buenos Aires and Japan to spread the word.
The restaurant occupies a large 1950s building over three levels with panoramic views over the Mediterranean and across to the historic centre of Menton. There’s a wonderful organic garden, which supplies many of the herbs, fruit and flowers for the menu.
While his style is adventurous, Colagreco is not tempted by the geeky science of the molecular gastronomy of El Bulli or the Fat Duck. He concentrates on freshness, simplicity, a fine balance of colour and the true flavour of food. He might serve sweet red prawns with ribbons of asparagus, borage and wild garlic flowers, a ragout of baby broad beans with nasturtium flowers, or swordfish enhanced with an emulsion of citrus and olive oil. There may be thinly sliced ceps with quinoa, yarrow, wild rocket and white caviar (snail eggs mixed with a little olive oil), or pigeon with a polenta flavoured with coffee and coconut.
Whether it’s a simple lunch, an adventurous dégustation menu or the daily changing carte blanche menu, when the chef is at his best, Mirazur is worth going that little bit further east along the Riviera to find, while Menton itself is a charming town.
30 Avenue Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton
+33 (0)4 92 41 86 87; mirazur.fr