Food - Menton - Satisfying autumnal fare - expertly cooked - reasonably priced - great location
A hidden gem of a restaurant 10 mins east of Menton, above the beautiful Hanbury Gardens. Local Ligurian dishes are prepared from all fresh local produce, much of it home-grown in the garden.
It's 'table d'hôte' so there are no menus or prices, but don't be alarmed - we paid 36€ /head for 4 courses incl. wine & coffees, which was very reasonable for the quality (excellent) and the quantity (generous).
Antipasti of 7 (yes 7!) different little 'dishes' that come out of the kitchen in batches - so you're not quite sure how much is yet to come! - including leek tartlets, a citrusy tomato relish on pieces of grilled red pepper, cheese & mushroom muffins, chickpea fritters, cauliflower fritters, a piece of onion stuffed, small pieces of thick-dough pizza...
Second course - or Primi Piati as the Italians confusingly call it: fresh tagliatelle with either pesto or porcini mushrooms. Have to admit we were getting full up after all those antipastis but one mouthful of the tagliatelle and we dived back in like wolves. Pesto is tricky because it can be overpowering, but this was nicely subtly dosed.
Secondi Piati: Rabbit stew with pine nuts & olives and little roast potatoes, or lamb stew. I had the rabbit: just fab, autumnal and satisfying. Only meat options here, but vegetarians will not be left feeling underfed.
Dessert: A slice of homemade peach clafoutis - perfectly delicious and didn’t need the icing sugar and slip-trailed caramel on top ; or ubiquitous tiramisu or crème brûlée...
Wines: Local Ligurian, in bottles or in carafes. I struggle with Ligurian wines, partly because they use unfamiliar grape varieties. Here the white and the red were Ok... ‘rustic’ - but in a way they matched both the cuisine and the restaurant.
The dining room décor can best be described as Retro Ski Chalet - that's not a compliment - so beware if you’re trying to impress a guest. You’ll come here for the food and the views, not the interior design.
Breathtaking views are to be had from the dining room and especially from the outside terraces in summer: of the bay of Menton all the way to Cap Ferrat, and to steep green hills inland.
Address: Via Castellasse 7, 18039 Grimaldi, Italy. Access isn't easy so a GPS is helpful. It’s well signposted from the coastal main roads.
Parking: In the village square, 75m walk.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (however, not sure they’re fast reactors)
Wheelchair access: Tricky but possible.