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Restaurant Mallard (Nice)

© Bastien Durand

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Eureka! In the culinary desert that was the Acropolis neighborhood of Nice, Mallard is like that coveted shiny nugget in a gold digger’s sieve. You’ll find unfussy decor, but 24-carat cuisine provided by Guillaume Tran-tu and Nino Vergez, both of whom did stints under Alain Ducasse. The day we went for lunch was a fine demonstration of their talent, with an array of bright and sunny dishes: crispy yet tender summer barbajuans – a local specialty that’s a kind of fried fritter stuffed with chard; delightful duck ravioli; perfect sardines stuffed with pork trotters and chestnuts; the (already) legendary Mallard smash burger made on homemade buns with Aubrac beef, cheddar and homemade ketchup, all served with wonderfully crispy fries; a plump free-range pork sausage tucked up against mashed potatoes drizzled in jus – or some lovely veal sweetbreads with quince, kale, carrots and pomelo cooked in a Dutch oven; before the dessert, a devastatingly good baba au cognac. And the cherry on top? The staff is solid gold! // Laëtitia Sayre

FEELING THIRSTY? Natural bottles (which are also sold to go): a Gamay from the Domaine Maratray-Dubreuil (€38 a bottle), a Rhone red blend by Stéphane Ogier (€32), a Burgundy Chardonnay from Christophe Patrice (€35)…
PRICE: Shared plates €9-10, à la carte €30-56.

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