Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Cannes to Paris Avalon Cruise September 2017 - Day Two

September 17, 2017

Spent most of the afternoon laid up in bed, having made the mistake of starting the day without coffee and just stomping off on a walkabout of Cannes. Some days you totally forget that the system needs and expects its espresso coffee in the morning or else it will go into lockdown with headache and bodyache and total withdrawal symptoms just after lunchtime. It kicked in about 1 pm and lasted through till about 5pm. This one needed four panadol to assuage the banging head. Serious withdrawal. Must have figured I would find a coffee bar en route and forgot it was a Sunday. The Atlantis breakfast at Euro7 felt a bit stiff - actually, it wasn't that bad in comparison to the local environs. There you go. 

Gazebo and Sunday Market on the Promenade in Cannes
The morning itself was good. A gentle stroll right out of the Atlantis along the totally shaded Rue Antibes leads to the front where a flea market was in session in glorious sunshine. Little mooch among the stalls to see if any treasures were worth snapping up (there weren't - mostly art and ornaments). Kept walking along the front to get to the Old Town and the Cathedral. A testing walk up the hill to reach the museum and get some vista style photos of both Cannes east and Cannes west. Also stopped into the church where a Christening was going on. And photo taking of the Christening by tourists who would not be denied their selfies after that climb. Hmmm....  I lit my traditional candles for mum and dad and my auntie Dolly and slipped away.

Cannes West...
...and Cannes East
Back down the hill for a wonderful hour ambling about Le Suquet and the old town in which I literally bumped into the market. Just turned a corner and there it was, all bustle, noise, smell and colour of hugely fresh produce. Delightful. I bought some Proven├žal pate from Chez Dany et Jean Michel (0626951668) and some olive bread from a boulangerie on the outside corner of the market (Baguepi, which might be a chain as there is also one opposite the Gare) and headed back to Hotel Atlantis for lunch and panadols. The pate would also do for breakfast with a baguette (une flute pain ordinaire  for E1.10). The Olive bread was stunning, all dough and pull apart wonder and chew and full firm mouth. Real olives with pips too. Perfect with the firm and full pork terrine though the peppers did their usual gastronomic tricks with the alimentation. Excellent lunch - I felt like a Frenchman. 
Off the bone Spanish ham
Oysters at E2 a slurp
"Yooo want mai photo, yooo mus' pay eeen thee Spanish 'am. Yaisss..."
If photos could smell...  meat, fish, cheese, bread...
My lunch and tomorrow's breakfast - Country French pate with baguette. Doesn't get much better...
On the way back to Atlantis, I also decided to find the Carlton hotel so as to gauge how long to allocate for the transfer on the morrow. This must have been what killed me for the afternoon, getting all footsore and headache. En route I stopped to watch some boules being played on the main Promenade opposite the Festival Hall and the Yachting Centre. Here, there were lots of boats seemingly being sold with lots of wealth and beauty looking earnestly like they were interested. Further walking took me past the Palais des Festivals Centre where all the handprints of the famous actors and actresses could be seen on the sidewalk. On along the front park and Palm walkway then crossing the road to arrive at the wedding cake Carlton International Hotel. I would be staying here with the Lenglui for the following two nights as part of the Cruise package we had bought. There were lots of high end shops and shoppers on both sides and behind the Carlton and a lot of high end cars slowly crawling past. It was a two lane road with at least four lanes of cars. Moral - don't drive in Cannes. Not many taxis or buses. I took some photos in the glorious sun then walked back along the Boulevard de la Croisette turning right on Rue des Serbs which took me up to the Rue d'Antibes and the Atlantis and the necessary panadols and bed.

Rue Menardier
Table 22 at Mantel
During my stroll in the Old Town, I had found my dinner venue and reserved for 7pm. A previous Internet search for best eats in Cannes found the Telegraph picks from two months previous which I figured would be up to date. It told of Table 22 at Mantel as a venue whilst TripAdvisor said it was unmissable. Left the Atlantis at about 5.30pm and gently strolled along the famous (and mostly closed shops of) Rue Meynardier to get back to Le Suquet and still arrived an hour early so I just strolled around the area. The main street is all restaurants with so much variety in eats and dishes and all of it looking and sounding wonderful. Though it did all feel a bit tourist centric. Maybe worth a return to Cannes to hunt down the really authentic and good stuff. I walked back through the now closed market and found a Bar for a sit down and a couple of glasses of Rose du Maison plonk to contemplate the day. 

Spent thirty minutes guzzling Rose and watching Les Frogs inside here
It was a slow five minute walk from the bar to Table 22 and I arrived way too early. So I continued along the Rue St Antoine just to kill time. It was pretty much cheek by jowl restaurants all along and up the hill. Most were in various stages of opening, though some looked as if they had been closed for some time. The top of the road opened out into a square, with some more bar style operations on one side and what looked like a theatre space on the other with a car park. Blazing sun in the eyes quickly turned me back around and retrace my steps down the Rue and into the Table 22 at Mantel. 

As said, the Table 22 got praise from the Daily Telegraph "Places to Eat in Cannes" and had turned up in various "where to eat in Cannes" internet searches, so figured should be worth a shot. Pretty unassuming from the outside (and I KNOW I took photos which I cannot now find - arghhh!!) it was pleasant enough inside. The menu was getting set up as I strolled up and got greeted and seated by the pretty waitress. I had previously decided to have the degustation - give a sense of the tastes of the place. For some reason I didn't photograph the menu and I don't recall there being one on the table, so notes will have to fill the gaps. The ambience was good, lot of modern art and somewhat subdued lighting as the sun went down. There was an entrance area with tables and an inner room for larger tables. I got seated at a table for two and set for one about halfway in the place facing the door which was fine with me. The food would come briskly. Not many there when I arrived, but it started to fill quite quickly. 

Lovely art on (I think) the bus station at the foot of Le Suquet
The amuse was fried onion and olive on brioche which was nicely balanced in salt and sugar terms and a pleasant soft wheat whack to line the stomach. The wine being served was the House Rose from Provence which was clean citrus frisky and a balanced class above the plonk downed earlier - this was steel clean rather than barrel rustic and with a hint of peach in the strawberry pop mouth. And at about the same price. Lesson learned - don't drink the house wine at the bar - stick with the beer. 

Interior of Table 22
First course out were the amazing Zucchini Flowers. These were delightful soft bites in clean batter that would put any Japanese tempura to a stiff test - absolutely belting. Though my notes say the things were lacking some bite with not much initial taste on the flower; though this did improve when the hit of salt kicked in to supercharge some lemon mayo. The presentation was excellent, the whole lot of them speared onto a spike and towering like Pisa on a plate. I also remember seeing these being fried and sold at the market earlier, but for some reason decided not to eat. Next time. The Zucchini Flowers were absolutely delightful soft bites in batter that would put any Japanese tempura to a stiff test - absolutely belting. I also remember seeing these being fried and sold at the market earlier, but for some reason decided not to eat. Next time. The house Red was a Cab Sauv from Provence (don't have the name) - young, light yet chewy tannin but still pretty even. Beefy in the mouth, some cassis, earthy and felt like good value. 

Zucchini Flowers and salad with Rose and bread. In Cannes some more. Yum.
This was accompanied by a Spinach and Rocket salad with vinaigrette of which I have no memory except it clashing with the Rose. Of course.  Service is brisk and friendly - ish. Brusque would be closer to the mark. Is this a French word? Sounds like it, non? They were very kind listening to my attempts to converse with them in French. Though all their replies were in English. Bloody French…

Next out was the risotto which came out scattered with fried thin prawn skins. Texture was excellent and not giving that bloating feel one occasionally gets from the rice. The dish had an overall clean salt feel and finish which felt a shade overpowering toward the end. But it all seemed to balance out with the wine and ultimately it became a very tasty risotto. I had opted to try the house Red with it which was a Cab Sauv from Provence (don't have the name) - young, light yet chewy tannin but still pretty even. Beefy in the mouth, some cassis, earthy and felt like good value. Gave good whack to the rice. 

Seafood Risotto
The Creme Brulee to finish came out on a hot plate though itself was nicely cold - I don't remember Creme Brulee coming out on a hot plate before so a question whether this was normal practice. Notwithstanding, it was good - that perfect moment the spoon breaks through the hard candy crust to dip into the milky cream and up to the mouth… absolute yum heaven. Tres bon, tres bon, tres bon!!

Creme Brulee - very tasty
22 Mantel is lovely. Ambience, service, food - it all works together very nicelyFelt very nice at the end of it all. Reposed - that good feeling after a good meal when everything seems in its place and all has blended into a perfect moment. 

Mantel Table 22
22, rue Saint Antoine
Le Suquet
06400 Cannes 
+33 (0)4 93 39 13 10

On the return walk along the street, it did seem that most were filled with tourists so perhaps could be a bit difficult to find the authentic. But on the return walk after dinner along the Promenade, there was a seafood place called Brun which was doing serious business. It was totally full and there was a long queue waiting to get seated. And the seafood looked amazing. Next time in Cannes is sorted. Seafood by the sea. If it has not been overtaken by a kebab house. Such a difference between here and the Rue de la Gare; pretty people street versus survival street. Experience suggests once the kebab sellers get a firm hold then they expand and grow. And the Cannes that I love will disappear. 

Walking back to the hotel, I got nicely spanked by a cool autumn breeze whooshing along the Rue d'Antibes. A pleasant though brisk way to end the night, though it told of winter chills to come. Though not so soon. Up into the Atlantis room and straight to sleep. Good day. Eventually. 

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