Food - Au Fût Et A Mesure - A new bar in old Nice
First of all, the complicated name. It's a French pun: the common French expression “Au fure et à mesure” means Slowly but surely; whereas a “fût” is a barrel, and of course “mesure” means measure… I know, I know, to explain a gag is to kill a gag - but it's a good pun!
This is a franchise operation out of Lille in beer-centric northeast France, with identical bars in about 30 other cities across the country. Their gimmick is you serve yourself. You get an empty glass from the bar and load up some credit onto a smart card. There are six large tables around the bar each with its own beer tap and a flatscreen like an iPad. Each tap is dispensing a different beer whose characteristics are posted on an adjacent board, so you can make an informed choice. You place your charge card flat on the “F” on the table top in front of the tap and it's information is read and displayed on the flatscreen: how much credit you have, details of this particular beer, and so on. You navigate via its touch-screen. Then you serve yourself any quantity you like - glasses are max 33cl; no pint glasses - and the corresponding pro-rata sum is debited off your card. It's cool that you can have a small cheap taster before deciding whether you'd like a whole glass, and that you are free to go to any tap and help yourself. The tables are high and seat 5-6 people on barstools; 4 large flatscreen TV’s around the bar showing football. For non-beer drinkers you can get cocktails and champagne at the counter; and to eat there is either a cheese platter or a charcuterie platter.
So far the concept looks great, doesn't it. But there are snags.
Firstly, it's trying to appeal to a younger bar crowd who're comfortable using touch-screens and charge cards and are comfortable perched on barstools… Yet there is no wif-fi, eeeekk! A younger crowd absolutely needs wi-fi. I wasn't told their wi-fi was temporarily down due to a technical issue; I was told they don't have wi-fi. And public wi-fi from the street outside doesn't reach inside. That is a deal-breaker as far as I'm concerned.
Secondly, if it's busy and a table is full of half-pissed blokes, getting to the screen & beer tap could be intimidating… or impossible.
Thirdly, no windows and it's darkly lit. This makes for a sombre and, again, intimidating atmosphere which - coupled with the masculine sports on the TVs - will be off-putting to female clients. I found the two bar staff friendly enough - and one spoke English - but the patron seemed sulky and I have read reports of a lack of welcome.
Fourthly, and importantly, the beers. Surely you need a broad range; this isn't a café or a wine bar, it's a pub, and any pub offers a range of beers. Say a Euro-fizz lager from a well-known brand like Kronenbourg Amstel or Carlsberg; an exotic Aussie like Fosters (well it's exotic in France!); a craft beer from a micro-brewery; a British bitter style like McCaffrey’s which is available across Europe; a stout like Guinness or Murphy’s; a German weissbier; a sweetish Belgian beer allegedly brewed by monks for centuries… Some lighter in alcohol, some stronger, maybe an alcohol-free… But at Au Fût Et A Mesure there's a very limited choice: Eurofizz, weissbier and sweet Belgian monks’ brew - all tasting disappointingly similar. The other pubs in Old Nice like Ma Nolan's and Wayne's make serious turnover from expat Anglosaxons (shorthand for Brits, Irish, Aussies, etc) because they offer decent Anglosaxon beers in pint glasses. I'm unconvinced Au Fût Et A Mesure is viable offering just Eurofizz, weissbier and sweet Belgian monks’ brew in small glasses - though they are hot on the merch, selling a bigger range of T-shirts through their website than they do beers in their pubs.
Summary: If you want a decent pint or two and maybe some proper pub food, give Au Fût Et A Mesure a swerve and head to Ma Nolan's, Wayne's, the Snug & Cellar, Akathor, Paddy’s, et al - they often have live music too.
Au Fût Et A Mesure
2 rue Jules Gilly, 06300 Nice
Tel. 04 93 55 29 75
Email: I can't find one
Web: www.aufutetamesure.fr/ for the franchise. No website for the Nice outlet.
Tram: Cathédrale - Vieille Ville, 5 mins walk
Vélo Bleu: Palais de Justice, Rue des Ponchettes, or Quai des Etats Unis
Car parks: Palais de Justice & Cours Saléya
Wheelchair access: Forget it; lots of steps.