During our two-week long honeymoon/summer vacation in Europe, my wife Jun and I had eaten at more than a dozen places. There were places where we had a full meal, from appetizers to desserts, and there were others where we ordered three or less dishes because we either didn’t have much time or were still full from the previous meals. In the latter category, I decided that I won’t review all of them because I felt those reviews covering only two or three dishes might not be representative of what the restaurant offers (and it’s not like we always ate at places like ramen shops where there is one central dish to cover; we usually dined at places with full sets of menus). The one exception I want to make and talk about is this charming French bistro located in Nice, France. Having just arrived from Croatia last night, Jun and I were strolling around the Vieux Nice neighborhood and checking out markets. I had already booked a dinner reservation that day and we were just playing it by ear as to where we will grab a quick lunch. After we couldn’t get into the first place I looked up because it was fully booked, we stumbled upon Le Bistrot d’Antoine, and we were very glad we did.
The minute you walk into Antoine, you will immediately realize that this bistro is for the locals, not the tourists who come to Nice from all over the world to enjoy the French Riviera’s summer. We couldn’t hear a single word of English other than between us and the staffs, and there is no separate menu in English, although our server kindly explained what each dish was. The food at Antoine is typical French bistro style with Provencal accent. I thought the refreshing Nicoise salad was a nice appetizer with pleasantly crunchy texture, but Jun was quickly put off by the anchovies in it and let me finish almost the entire salad. We were both in agreement that the other two dishes were fantastic. The beef pot with lemongrass verbena had a rich stew that was delightfully aromatic, and the beef was thoughtfully cooked to have an ideally juicy texture. Add the polenta on the side and you have one very satisfying dish for a lunch in Cote d’Azur.
The other dish, pork casserole, was equally impressive, with the meat that was steamed over long hours and therefore was very smooth and worked beautifully together with the surrounding vegetables and potatoes. Both meat dishes really showcased how a simple French bistro food prepared with consistent execution and attention to ingredients can bring about a far better dining experience than some gimmicky restaurants with esoteric techniques and ingredients. We decided to grab ice cream at a nearby famous shop named Fenocchio after our lunch but in retrospect we probably should’ve tried one of the desserts at Antoine too.
We walked in as soon as the restaurant opened slightly after noon and was able to get seated immediately, but the cozy dining space quickly got packed, especially the outdoor area (because we were already sweating like crazy people from all the walks around Vieux Nice, we decided to dine inside). For lunch, definitely grab a glass of French house wine to complement your meal. The staffs at the restaurant were rather proficient in English so you won’t have a trouble finishing your meal even if all you can say is bonjour or merci. While I have put several fine dining options in our itinerary during our trip in France (more reviews will come on those places later) and we did have outstanding places at some of those, it is a place like Antoine that will stay in my memory for a long time. The French do know how to prepare some seriously delicious food.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 27 Rue de la Préfecture, 06300 Nice, France