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Food & Drink | Old Nice - Two places for top quality bistro food

Food & Drink | Old Nice - Two places for top quality bistro food

Note: Bistro food tends to be less fussy, less artistic, more straightforward than gourmet restaurant food - simply because originally a bistro’s mission was to feed people a simple wholesome lunch with speedy service, whereas a restaurant was more where you'd go for a special occasion blow-out.

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Armand Crespo, ex of the acclaimed CIGALON in Valbonne, now has two bistros in Old Nice: first came the BISTROT D'ANTOINE on the Rue de la Préfecture and then, when demand was beginning to outstrip supply, came the COMPTOIR DU MARCHÉ on the Rue du Marché. They can be reviewed together because both offer expertly cooked traditional French bistro cuisine in buzzy, bustling premises with a retro vibe - the only difference being that the Bistrot d’Antoine’s menu features more old fashioned dishes, like pig’s trotters, black pudding and kidneys, whereas the Comptoir du Marché’s cuisine is lighter and (slightly) trendier. The same level of friendly yet professional service can be expected in both establishments - and it's reassuring that, when you go back again and again, you see the same loyal staff.

Antoine’s entrées include cod brandade, octopus salad, marrow bone, stuffed saddle of rabbit - but each dish has other ingredients and little accompaniments to create hearty and satisfying plates of food. Portion sizes, however, remain modest and mercifully not too over-facing.

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The Comptoir’s entrées are less complicated, including beef tartare, a delicious crab & leek raviolo, a mini pizza, and during the summer a tomato & burrata (heart of mozzarella) salad.

Antoine’s mains - in addition to a couple of risottos and pasta dishes - include traditional Parisian-style favourites like duck breast à la plancha, kidneys, sliced leg of lamb, entrecôte steak, and the flavour-packing Perugine sausages with Puy lentils… Depending on the season there's usually at least one fish option and it's usually possible to satisfy a vegetarian, but they'll have less choice than a carnivore, that's for sure.

The Comptoir’s mains, by contrast, are lighter and more contemporary, e.g. seared tuna with roquette, braised pig’s cheek, roast octopus with quinoa like a risotto, and pan fried cod on a bed of vegetables :

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The desserts of both bistros are similar in style and standard offerings - though well prepared - like chocolate mousse, apple tart, seasonal fruit salad, panna cotta...

Wines available in both establishments include reasonably priced Côtes de Provence house wines and a limited but well chosen selection of labels from Provence plus a few from the other major French regions like Bordeaux, the Rhône and Burgundy. I enjoyed a mid-range Côtes de Provence rosé from Château Mouresse at €28: it's label revealed the vineyard’s URL, so I checked that out and went and bought some at €7.50 a bottle! But that's no more than standard restaurant mark-up.

Prices: a 3-course meal in both places will cost you about €30, plus wine etc.

The dining rooms are busy and bustling, not over spacious and can be noisy, so not places for a quiet tête-à-tête. Both bistros are extremely popular so booking is essential.

The quality and freshness of the produce - most of it locally sourced - match the expertise of the cooking. Delicious unfussy food. Menus on blackboards means they can be changed through the seasons and according to availability. I warmly recommend both of these bistros.


Le Bistrot d'Antoine
27 Rue de la Préfecture - 06000 Nice
Tel. 04 93 85 29 57 (+33 493852957 from outside France)

Web: Facebook

Closed Sunday & Monday

Car parks: Palais de Justice & Cours Saléya

Vélo Bleu: Palais de Justice


Le Comptoir du Marché

8 Rue du Marché - 06300 Nice

Tel. 04 93 13 45 01 (+33 493134501 from outside France)

Web: Facebook

Closed Sunday & Monday

Car parks: Palais de Justice & Cours Saléya

Vélo Bleu: Palais de Justice


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