Carré Lorca / Vieux Nice

I’m sitting next to a black and white photograph of Alain Llorca, his white chef’s tunic stretched tight over his pot belly. He’s got a smile on his face (or is he laughing?) and he’s looking straight into the restaurant. He’s unmistakably confident – or certainly confident enough to assume you know who he is.  His photo is hung on a bare 16C limestone wall, over a stripped wooden floor, next to a transparent glass wine ‘cellar’ into which curious diners regularly disappear with the mâitre d’. Designed by architect Paul Valet, the restaurant is open, pared-down and breezy: from where I’m sitting on the upper floor, I can see everyone else in the restaurant – the balustrades are made of glass and there are no dividing walls – and straight into the kitchen, where Spanish chef Gabriella Stockler Martinez, who spent two years training under Llorca at his three-star restaurant in La Colle sur Loup, is overseeing my fresh ravioli in a warm courgette soup with crunchy courgettes and feisty local olives, followed by a delicately poached turbot,  seasoned to perfection, with charcoal grilled asparagus and chorizo. My dessert, a gooseberry flan, like everything on the dessert tray, was made by patissier Jean-Michel Llorca, brother of Alain Llorca. We chose a “slow fuse” white Provençal selected by Llorca himself: slightly sour and water-light before we started the meal, its sharpness mellowed into fruity, chalky tones with a mineral aftertaste as the meal went on. At 7 to 9 euros for a starter, 12 to 16 euros for a main, and dessert at a staggering €5.50, it’s the same price as a tourist trap on the Cours Saleya.  And the locals know it, so book if you can.

Liked: friendly, highly-professional and knowledgeable staff

Didn’t like: noisy when full

3 rue de la Préfecture, 06300, Nice

Tel. 04 93 92 95 86

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