When it comes to international travel, you want to soak in the culture. You want to enjoy the sights and sounds of every city you visit, but you mustn’t forget to indulge your taste buds too. And that was one of our main goals on this Europe trip.
It’s called Al Barattolo Ristorante and it’s located along a main pedestrian-friendly drag of restaurants and shops one block away from the famous Promenade des Anglais. There were several restaurants here proudly advertising their moules frites (mussels and fries) and they were all priced roughly the same, but Al Barattolo was the only one with unlimited mussels. Maybe we should have taken that as a sign.
Unlike nearly all the restaurants in Paris, the restaurants in Nice don’t typically offer standard two and three-course menus. You simply order each item separately. To go along with my meal, I got a glass of the house rose. You can see it here next to the spritzers of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Considering that I didn’t have any in Paris, I decided to go with the beef tartare. Yes, that is raw beef. It is effectively a steak that has been chopped up and mixed with some onion and parsley. It was topped with shaved fresh parmesan and a cherry tomato. On the side is a bitter greens salad.
I was surprised by the portion size. The beef tartare took up half of the (10 to 12-inch) plate. The actual flavor wasn’t anything particularly special, unfortunately.
It was also served with a side of fries. Again, the fries were quite uninspiring. They lacked seasoning, so I had to add a fair bit of salt and pepper myself. They weren’t crispy and they tasted like they belonged at the golden arches at best.
And here is Susanne’s first bowl of mussels, served in a spicy tomato sauce. It didn’t look too bad, but the mussels themselves were quite small and the bowl contained quite a few empty shells. We definitely prefer the moules frites at Chambar in Vancouver.
And here is Susanne’s second bowl of mussels, served in a curry-based sauce. This definitely contained fewer mussels than the first bowl and it had just as many empty shells. The mussel meat was equally small too. While I could see that the sauce was curry based, it lacked the spices that we’ve come to expect from an Indian or Southeast Asian curry.
Since the mussels were so tiny and since there were so many empty shells, Susanne ordered a third bowl. It was unlimited, after all. And then, we waited. And waited. And waited. Looking around us, the other tables were also waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
It seemed that they had run out of mussels, since other dishes–like the pizza and pasta–were still being delivered. At long last, after almost an hour, her third bowl arrived. The mussel meat was a little larger this time, but after waiting that long, it wasn’t much of a saving grace. It also didn’t help that our server was rude and anything but attentive.
I was cautiously optimistic, but Al Barattolo left a lot to be desired. We would have liked to dine in “Old Nice” instead, but it was too long of a walk from where we were staying. And even then, we’re not sure if the experience would have been any better. All said, dinner for two came to 37 Euro.