April 18, 2009
12, quai du Port
Tel: 04 91 91 10 40
Miramar is probably the most famous bouillabaisse restaurant in southern France, if not all of France. We had the opportunity to have lunch there, and it was as good as advertised. Quai du Port rings the south side of the main marina, and along that road are a set of restaurants offering French maritime cuisine. On your way to #12 do not stop, do not pass go, just keep going. Miramar is a different beast. They have both inside and outside seating (we sat outside), and the tables were mostly filled with well-dressed, middle-aged French businessmen enjoying a three-hour lunch.
Many of the main-courses are for two (we found this to be pretty common). There are three versions of the bouillabaisse (with and without lobster and one “special” – we couldn’t get a great explanation of “special”). Other super interesting courses for two included various grilled fishes, salt encrusted and baked fishes, and fish in pastry (which are expertly filleted and plated tableside by the “Chef du Table” – a roving outside chef).
We were there for the bouillabaisse, so we went for it. (Regular, no lobster).
To start we had the lobster salad.
This was perhaps the most beautiful lobster salad that I had ever seen – note how the claw seemingly grasps the tail. The lobster was nicely cooked (steamed, served cold), however the flavors in the salad (peas, beans, carrots, greens, with a light pesto-cream sauce) while independently beautiful, I didn’t hang together cohesively to make the dish.
We also had the scallop starter.
Also very beautiful. The scallops were lightly pan fried, and sat on top of a bed of slightly crunchy, pan-caramelized onions. On top, there are the thick sliced black truffles. Need I say more?
This dish did hang together much more cohesively. A single bite incorporating all of the elements was an amazing pleasure… it just melted in your mouth.
Next came the bouillabaisse…. It was a production. First, the seafood comes out.
Rockfish, a few kinds of whitefish, mussels, small crabs and potatoes are all delivered beautifully, topped with the “Certificate of Quality”.
The server then brings the garlic, mayo and toast platter. There is a process to follow with those – a delicious, garlicky process.
Step one: Select your toast.
Step two: Select a garlic clove.
Step three: Take garlic clove, and “scrape” on toast, liberally.
Step four: Apply dollop of spicy mayo stuff on toast.
Step five: Drop in bouillabaisse broth.
Oh, the broth.
Now, you don’t just get the broth with the seafood – no. While your seafood is being filleted and prepared tableside by the Chef du Table, you are given a fullsize bowl to enjoy. You get to play the above toast game with *that* broth.
I had this preconceived notion that bouillabaisse broth was thin and white. Far from it – here it was very much like a thick, fish bisque (without cream). It was also heavily seasoned with saffron and was somewhat curry-like, with a definite yellow color. With an almost spicy background, it went perfectly with the garlic toast previously prepared.
When finished, the Chef du Table presented us with the complete product – with a new base of broth of course.
While the serving was for two – honestly two people could have shared one bowl and been quite satiated. Each of the elements retained its own flavor and texture, and worked well together.
We did finish with dessert – which was ordered right after the main courses were ordered since each was cooked to order as well. I was ready to burst, but we had selected a Gran Marnier soufflé.
And, a Baba au Rhum.
The Baba au Rhum came with its own separate shot of rum (for drinking) – I know it was for drinking as the cake was supersaturated with rum – and perfect of course. The Baba and the topping strawberry glistened – with deliciousness.
As a bonus, a petit-fours plate was delivered, including these delicious raspberry tarts.
Samwich *loved* these, and when we told the ever-accomodating staff, ten more promptly showed up. I kid you not. Samwich then proceeded to eat the raspberries off the top of each one in a maniacal production line of yumminess.
Restaurant Miramar was an absolute treat. The setting was perfect for people watching along the quai. Eating outside in early spring was like a sneak preview of summer. Honestly lunching there was a great combination of luxury and laid-back-ness that I don’t think we would have had at dinner.
Marseille was an hour-plus from where we were staying, but Anh and I considered going back the next day to try more of the treats… only a fear of another post-lunch-caloric-coma caused us to not make the trek.
Go to Miramar… go after fasting… go with friends so you can try everything.