NICE, FRANCE, June 8, 2018 : L ’Aromate is an extraordinary fine dining restaurant in Nice featuring the formidable talents of Michelin starred Chef Mickael Gracieux.
Located just outside of the old city across from the Galleries Lafayette, L ‘Aromate’s Chef Gracieux creates stunningly innovative Haute Cuisine that tantalizes and amazes.
Their new location has been open since January, but Mickael has held one Michelin star for the last nine years. Relatively small, with just 11 tables, L ‘Aromate delivers an astonishing culinary adventure as sensational as it is memorable.
l ‘Aromate: the Restaurant
The outside is adorned with their emblematic name on a façade of black. Inside, the restaurant is one room with the kitchen enclosed behind a glass partition. The room is a motif in white with accents of black furnishings and light fixtures.
The floors are blond wood. One entire wall just off the entrance is a series of octagonal white tiles from floor to ceiling resembling a sculpture of fish scales.
White marbles tables are offset with black leather modernist chairs and black placemats. Black linen tablecloths with gold napkin rings sit on white stone setting plates.
An intimate setting, there are 8 two tops, 2 four tops, and larger table for 6 near the front window. The flow of the room and the design elements are gracious and thematically appealing.
l ‘Aromate: Michael Gracieux and the Kitchen
The open kitchen dominates the back of the restaurant enclosed in glass panels. Chef Gracieux and his Sous Chef Victorien Duchesne work assiduously in the large kitchen space behind two lines of stoves and a prep table in the middle.
They rarely look up during the three hour service, deep in serious, meticulous food preparation. Their focus is intense. Their dedication to a complicated paus de deux of culinary artistry is a thing of beauty.
As each dish comes up it is set on a hole in the glass partition on a ledge of granite. The synchronicity of their movement throughout the evening is mesmerizing.
l ‘Aromate: Interior design and the granite slab
A stark black large granite slab wraps around the kitchen enclosure on three sides. Splayed across the black granite is a white pattern resembling a roiling ocean covered in sea foam.
It is a visual tour de force, like a Japanese painting of white caps in a raging sea set in black granite. The visual effect is aesthetically beautiful, adding to the overall motif of black and white interior design.
The opposite wall of the restaurant is covered with a green and gold wallpaper of palm fronds. It is matched by an oriental themed green lamp with a red and green brocade design on the lampshade. The contrast to the rest of the room is a lovely design element.
A trio of teardrop shaped black lacquer light fixtures hang from the ceiling in three different places like a futuristic setting from A Clockwork Orange.
Between the granite black and white seafoam kitchen border and the light fixtures they are stunning focal points of a seamless design concept.
l ‘Amorate: Mickael Gracieux and Elise Morselli and the team
More impressively, the interior of the restaurant has been wholly designed by Elise Morselli, Chef Gracieux’s partner in life and the restaurant Matre’d.
They have been together for 15 years, and have a 4 year old son, Leon. More importantly, they are partners in creating a restaurant experience that is as visually impressive as their dedication to exhilarating Haute Cuisine.
Elise is both Matre’d and Sommelier, working the floor with proficient grace with Adrien Webb, a dignified figure with a French/American background.
As impressive, the entire operation throughout the evening is four people. Chef Mickael Gracieux and Sous Chef Victorien Duschesne in the kitchen, while Elise and Adrien run the evening in the dining room.
Evidently grand things come in small packages. This is the most efficiently seamless Michelin starred restaurant operation in memory. With the possible exception of Clovis in the medieval mountain village of Tourette sur Loup, this is as personal and self contained as it gets.
l ‘Aromate: The evening begins
Elise Morselli greets each customer as they enter and shows them to their table. The menu is a choice of two prix fixe meals of four or six courses with the option of extensive wine pairings. There is also a wide ranging wine list from all regions of Frane
The evening begins with an aperitif of Pierre Gimmonet Cuvee 2010 champagne, an exquisite wine from a special year for champagne. It is accompanied by two slices of crusty French bread with a tapenade of smoky tuna.
An amuse bouche of thinly battered fried shrimp is delicate, light, crisp and delectable. It accompanies a rich spinach beignet, steaming in the center, with a beautiful texture and taste.
l ‘Aromate: the exquisite torteau of crab
A tourteau of crab with coriander fraiche, fennell and ginger in a chilled gelee under a warm foam emulsion of shellfish, served in a martini glass, is an exhilarating first course.
This wildly original dish is an explosion of crosscurrents. A substantial portion of sweetly succulent shredded crab is suspended in the middle layer over a base of cream. It is reached by the spoonful through a layer of warm foam.
The contrast in temperature between layers and the taste sensations generated is wonderfully amazing. Every morsel is an adventure. A sign of an achingly creative imagination, it sets the tone for the evening.
It is paired with a Jean de Sebastian Chablis from Dauvissat Saint Pierre. Its crisp minerality cuts through the complex flavor profile of the crab torteau
This foments yet another complex interaction between chilled crab and gelee, warm foam, and full bodied wine. It is an astounding culinary moment from Chef Gracieux as impressive as it is delicious.
l ‘Aromate: bonita tartar
A surprise course of smoky bonita tartar with aromatic herbs and tomato comfit under a thin layer of tarragon sauce is sensational.
Molded into a thin round shape, topped with bits of edible flowers, it continues the journey into exotic nether reaches of gastronomic exploration.
Paired with a Chateau de Rouet Belle Boule 2017 from Provence, it features the clean, light taste of the regional Rolle grape. It plays off the smoky flavor of the bonita with a rustic counterpoint of freshness and fruity clean taste.
l ‘Aromate: Foie gras mousse and pea soup
Leaping back into his signature style, a petit pois of foie gras mouse en veloute is served in a raised bowl under a hot pea soup, alongside a freshly baked roll of unspeakable softness.
Again the contrasting flavor profiles of warm soup and chilled Foie gras sets off an innervating contretemps across the palette. It accentuates the creamy nature of the foie gras with elements of crumbled bacon and the richness of the peas.
Daring, exceptional, and a feast for the senses, it is paired with a Chateau Simeon la Lou ronne grenache gris from the Rhone Valley. Full bodied and sensual, Chef Gracieux again allows the wine to be a third element of the dish it complements.
l ‘Aromate and Chef Michael Gracieux
By using temperature differences to accentuate each elements qualities, it brings out the exquisite nature of the dish in their combination.
By demonstrating its use as a theme across his cooking, Chef Gracieux creates a signature culinary innovation, both exemplary and distinctive.
Its remarkable Mickael has only one Michelin star. L’Aromate is the dining equal of many two Michelin starred restaurants, and better than some.
Chef Gracieux’s passion, creativity, originality of cuisine, and personality of the food is star quality. This is cooking for giants.
l ‘Aromate: the meal continues
Sauteed Artichoke in a jus of Barollo wine vinegar and a dentelle of parmesan is a delightful, light, and briskly fresh transition dish.
The artichokes are beautiful, tenderly flavorful, simple and clean, perfectly cooked. This is paired with a Chateau La Callissi Patrice Ortelle 2016, a lovely white wine from Provence
A ravioli of potato with caviar in a shellfish jus with parsley and garlic is a stellar return to creatively lovely cuisine. These are delicate creatures, like spun glass, with gold leaf under the caviar.
An effervescent delight, the contrast of a ravioli with a potato interior is like a merger of pasta and gnocchi, separated by membrane, topped with a salty caviar aftertaste profile.
A Chateau Simian Jocundaz Viognier 2017 Cotes du Rhone is a crisp, refreshing, and delightful accompaniment to the raviolis. Chef Gracieux is ready for the main courses, rarely looking up from his stove.
l ‘Aromate: Sea bass and Charolais beef
A gorgeous sea bass in a citrus lime sauce is sublime. The jus au souffle covers the upper level of the fish in a tangy coating. The sea bass is brilliant, flaky, firm, bursting with delicate flavor.
In a pairing that defies normal convention, the fish is accompanied by an Agnes Paquet Auxey-Durreses 2015 Pinot Noir from Burgundy. The light fruity pinot grapes are full bodied enough to complement the rich meat of the sea bass.
The classic finale of the main courses is an extraordinary filet of Charolais, the famed white beef cow from the burgundy region. Renowned for its taste, here at L’Aromate it becomes a true excursion into the glory of a perfectly cooked filet. Never has Charolais been so tender.
Beautifully seasoned, it melts in the mouth with each morsel. With a thin coating of crushed peppercorns, it defines the pinnacle of what Charolais beef can be. Paired with a beautiful Triennet Les Aurelieoni Cabernet 2014, the bold red grape is a powerful counterpoint to the rich red beef.
A meat lovers delight, Chef Gracieux leads the diner thru a maze of innovative haute cuisine, but sends them home with classic food done perfectly.
l ‘Aromate: As a grand evening winds down…
The flow of each course through the evening is a true expression of the many facets of his cooking. Its like a waltz through his culinary personality.
As the evening winds down a Lemon orange crumble with a manderine sorbet is a fabulous first desert. An Apple tart millefueille with a ice cream glace of mascarpone is sensational.
The glow of the evening has been a perpetual smile. Each course has been a seamless journey to the next. Chef Gracieux and his life partner Elise Morselli have designed and created a fantastic environment in which to experience his cuisine.
The fury and high intensity ballet between Chef Gracieux and Soux Chef Victorien Duchesne is a glorious thing to behold. Elise runs the floor like a Matre’d extraordinaire, conducting the evening like a finely tuned string quartet.
Three hours pass in a passing wave of elegant cuisine in immaculate surroundings. The setting is immersive. The intensity and passion is palpable. The sense of something special and different is overwhelming.
The entire experience at L ’Aromate, from stunning cuisine to luscious intimate atmosphere, is a fever dream of culinary wonder. Here in the heart of Nice, like the city itself, L ‘Aromate is a treasure to be indulged and experienced, savored, and returned to.
Restaurant L ‘Aromate 2 Rue Gustave Deloya, Nice, France
[email protected] Phone: 33 (04) 93 62 98 24
Air France flies direct to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from there to the rest of France and all of Europe from Washington, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of American cities.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal