Food - Nice Old Town - Small Bistro - Location is Good and Central - Buzzy Atmosphere - Modern and Bright - Welcome and Friendly - Bilingual French/English
Other Fish & Chips joints have come and gone here over the years and this begs the question: is Fish & Chips viable in Nice? I went and tried the Fat Mermaid in early October. There were still plenty of tourists around; the many other bistro-style restaurants in the neighbourhood were busy enough, but mine was only the second table occupied in the Fat Mermaid. Do tourists come to Old Nice for fish & chips? No; for Mediterranean fish dishes. Do local Niçois relish fish & chips? No; la cuisine anglaise is not exactly prized. I guess this is why they've added "and Irish pub food" to the offer, to broaden its appeal. But the two Ma Nolan's, Paddy's Pub, the Snug & Cellar - not to mention the famous Wayne's Bar - are already doing the British pub food thing in Nice, including fish & chips. So I hope the Fat Mermaid isn't doomed, both because the enthusiasm of the two keen young owner-operators deserves reward, and because I liked their fish & chips!
The location is good..
and central in this atmospheric buzzy part of town; the small bistro is new, modern and bright, cosy and casual; the welcome friendly and bilingual French/English.
The menu declares the cod as line-caught and available in a choice of batters: regular, Niçois (with chickpea flour for added crunch) and spicy.
For €16.50 this comes with a choice of two accompaniments chosen from chips, coleslaw, mushy peas and onion rings, plus a sauce - either tartare or something called "Guinness sauce". The menu also nods to the 'Irish pub' half of its theme with its battered sausages with baked beans (€11.50), an "Irish Pub Salad" (€11.00) and a "TBC Sandwich" (€11.00). By comparison, Ma Nolan's fish & chips with mushy peas & tartare sauce costs €14.90.
They cheekily claim to offer Tapas, but these are just the same pub dishes rehashed in smaller servings at €3 a pop. Is mushy peas a tapa?? Spaniards would be horrified - rightly IMHO.
Desserts: e.g. lemon curd (what, a bowl of it?), brownies, fruit salad at €5.50 - €7.50.
Drinks: Beers by the bottle - from non-standard micro-brewery brand called Blue Coast but standard tasting, at €6 for 33 cl. No wines.
The fish and the chips are said to be cooked on the premises - they were well cooked and very tasty - but, while the kitchen is open to the dining area and visible through a big glass window, there were mysteriously no sizzling or extractor fan sounds nor any cooking smells at all... Curious...
Prices are standard for this sort of bistro establishment in Old Nice, but for some fish & chips + a side, a bottle of beer and a dessert you won't get much change out of €30.00 - and that's not cheap. But if you're an expat Brit or Irish and you crave a taste of home the food is worth seeking out - better than Ma Nolan's for example, if a bit pricier.
Address: 42 rue Droite, 06300 Nice
Parking: underground carparks Palais de Justice and Cours Saléya.
Vélo Bleu: bottom end of Rue de la Préfecture; top end of the Cours Saléya.
Wheelchair access: Three steps up into the restaurant.