Keisuke Matsushima as the name suggests is Japanese and has a Michelin star for a restaurant in Nice bearing his name.
(This restaurant review is an English translation of the article written by Serge Thorn author of the blog Hedofoodia.You can find here the original version of the review in French. You can visit Serge's blog for more restaurants review worldwide)
Like a number of brilliant Japanese chefs who have worked in big houses in France, he knows how to elegantly offer inspired French cuisine without falling into fusion-type dishes or what is often referred to as 'pan-Asian' cuisine.
A Japanese chef who for the past few years has been proposing inspired, innovative and gourmet dishes in his establishment at rue de France.
It is in a parallel street, the rue Buffa that opened "The School of Nice" which is a bistro from the association of Keisuke Matsushima and Marc Panther.
The real name is Ryūichi Sakai, a Japanese DJ, rapper, singer and co-producer.
A concept a bit modeled on what we find in London or Paris, namely to associate bistronomy and music.
Well here is a good idea!
"The School of Nice" is originally an artistic movement developed in the 50s and it is not easy to summarize its manifesto.
It has different means of expression, different currents, but a common position: the rejection of academisms and all conventions.
It is rare to find some literature but some summarize this movement quite well:
Not sure that there is a direct relationship between this new bistro and the cuisine described as "Traditional Niçoise" with possibly a Japanese touch.
Although the idea is to open a series of these bistros in Asia and replicate the concept: associate cooking and music, without conventions ... or just a few pictures of some artists.
In the kitchen, Yoshinobu Seki who is the second of Keisuke, ready to share with us this cuisine Nicoise, which sometimes can miss a little finesse but which will probably be revisited here.
At the corner of an old building on Avenue Buffa with a slate on the wall, you will find this restaurant.
A nice and pleasant bistro with stone walls on a side of the place, crates of wine in a corner, a series of modern paintings with black frames of this art movement "The School of Nice".
Barrels and bar cluttered with multiple bottles as ornaments.
Tables simply set with mats on which we find the emblem of the house: the Nice straw hat seen above.
A smiling and friendly young girl present us a slate with a series of dishes; half a dozen appetizers, the same number of mains and desserts.
Either a menu "Of the day" in 4 courses at 35 euros, or the menu with its 3 courses for the sum of 25 euros.
The possibility also to compose the meal according to hunger.
As appetizers, we are had excellent panisses.
A specialty that goes from Italy to Nice.
Made with chickpea flour, water and olive oil as the other niçoise specialty, socca.
Normally the flour is cooked in water, then it is molded in saucers, which gives them a very particular shape.
A dish that is often found in fresh pasta factories in old Nice or even in neighborhood butchers.
They can be fried or baked, and then cut into patties, fries, cubes or slices.
First observations they are incredibly light and immediately we think of "tempura".
It's just perfect.
Other delicious little tartlets close to a pizza with tomatoes confit, olives, anchovies and mushroom.
Carpaccio de coquilles St-Jacques
As an entry for some, a carpaccio of scallops, beetroot.
The very fresh St. Jacques is cut into thin strips with on the top a few slices of beetroot.
As a garnish, some arugula leaves and probably thin pieces of radish, some fish eggs that could be lumpy but the texture is more supple in the mouth.
Delicious is the combination made with a yuzu lemon sauce that gives the plate a touch of citrus, very pleasant.
Another nice plate with leeks vinaigrette, smoked herring.
Leek cut into sections covered with herring, olive oil and lemon sauce.
Here also some fish eggs and some sprouted young shoots.
A simple recipe but perfectly realized.
Daube de bœuf aux cèpes
As a main course beef stew with porcini mushrooms.
The stew is obviously a very local dish with a melting meat and a wine sauce that is slightly too acidic but well-flavored mushroom with some carrots and broccoli flowers.
The whole is accompanied by a creamy polenta.
Faux-filet de bœuf
For me, a sirloin steak, pissaladiere sauce.
The pissaladière is a kind of local pizza with as a garnish of stewed onions and anchovies.
Here the two ingredients have been very worked to give a fairly sweet and fragrant sauce.
The meat and sauce are accompanied by some green leaves and an interesting chestnut purée and not mashed chestnut ... the texture would be closer to the crushed chickpea.
A very nice association of flavors.
Terrine de pommes
As dessert an apple terrine with vanilla ice cream.
Apples in melting layers, a little crumble and caramel sauce.
To accompany a vanilla ice cream.
A classic dessert well done.
Tarte aux marrons
The chestnut pie lacked a little flavor ...
A very good shortbread dough with a good taste of butter but a slightly dry filling.
All accompanied by a light chocolate mousse.
Panna cotta au gingembre
Last dessert that I did not taste.
A panna cotta with ginger, red fruit coulis.
The wine list offers a nice local selection of Bellet but you will also find other wines from the south of France.
We chose a Gigondas Château de Saint Cosme 2012 with a rather discreet nose on black fruits with a little spice.
Here is a very nice bistro cuisine or even home cooking that offers quality plates with a great value for money.
Local cuisine some great successes.
Knowing that the menus change daily depending on the arrivals and the market, this is a very nice place not to be missed.
Also note that these menus are daily featured on Facebook!
The author Serge Thorn
Serge is a Swiss national based in Geneva and also Barcelona. As he is continually traveling for business, he relishes the opportunity to indulge in one of his greatest passions, trying new cuisine and discovering new restaurants. A seasoned food expert, he grew up in the midst of gastronomic excellence and learned about different dishes, ingredients and cooking since an early age. He documents his love for food and his discoveries in his blog: Hedofoodia. He appreciates greatness as well as simplicity, and as he writes on his blog: From the moment that emotion and pleasure are there ... that's what matters.