We first noticed Chez Palmyre on our way to the beach on rue Droite. It looked like one of those very traditional French restaurants that tourists like being photographed in – wall mirrors with inscribed menus, simple wooden tables and chairs, an old-fashioned bar at the entrance. It looked interesting, and we thought that we should check it out some time. But, as usual, one tends to visit places which are not in the exact proximity to where one lives, and Chez Palmyre happened to be very close to our apartment. We passed it every day, marveling at the menu displayed outside, observing the crowd descending on the place every day for lunch and dinner and feeling sorry for the owners getting the restaurant ready for the next day late at night, the time when we would be heading back home after the night on the town.
And then one day, when our stay in Nice was coming to an end, we said to ourselves: “This is the day. Chez Palmyre, here we come.” We decided to make it a dinner meal and headed for the restaurant around 7 pm. Alas, it turned out that we could not just waltz in, we had to make a reservation ahead. Disappointed, we asked for a dinner reservation the following day. Well, they were fully booked, and not just for that day but also for the next and the day after that. We finally managed to squeeze ourselves in five days later. It’d better be good, we thought.
Well, Chez Palmyre did not disappoint. All the dishes proved to be delicious and carried out with a precision bordering on perfection. This, of course, is not particularly surprising since the menu stays the same for two or three weeks before they switch to a new one. It seems that the restaurant’s strategy is to produce high-quality inexpensive dishes which would please the palate but would not hit the pocket. And they succeed. All the dishes are seasonal and reflect the local cuisine. For 18 euros one can get an appetizer, the main dish and a dessert. Wine is also inexpensive. You can get a pitcher of local wine for only a few euros. The baguettes which they serve with the meal are to die for, and I suspect that I know where they get them – the same place I do, but that is another story.
Since that first visit, our love story with Chez Palmyre goes on. We try to have a meal there every time we are in Nice. Mind you, now we are smarter and often phone from Holland weeks ahead if we want to get in on a particular day. We always mention the place when asked about our favourite restaurants in Nice, we bring our friends to Chez Palmyre, and we never fail to check out their menu on the way to the beach, just to be informed. Last time we were in Nice, we were sitting at Chez Palmyre one cold January evening, surrounded by locals (the advantage of being in Nice off season) and enjoying our hearty Nicois meal and wine, and felt a pure joy of belonging to the neigbourhood. And what can be better that that?