Le Negresco, Le Chantecler… two iconic and legendary names for one and the same place.
Le Chantecler, located in the heart of the emblematic Nice Palace, very quickly became a reference for French Gastronomy as La Chèvre d’Or, La Tour d’Argent and Le Grand Véfour. During its long term, it has welcomed a line of great chefs who have continued to tell its story while writing new chapters with different culinary inspirations.
It all started in 1978 with the arrival of the bubbling, inventive and fascinating Jacques Maximin, who, through his personality, his high-flying Mediterranean cuisine and his innovative techniques, propelled Le Chantecler into the firmament of Michelin stars and notoriety during 11 years. The sincere and authentic Dominique Le Stanc took over for the next 8 years, Alain LLorca, the chef with a big Provencal heart, maintained the two stars until his departure, the hectic Michel Del Burgo (deceased in 2017) succeeded there for a while and the very precise and academic Meilleur Ouvrier de France Jean-Denis Rieubland recovered the second star previously lost, and maintained it with dexterity for 10 years.
Since 2018, the brilliant Michelin star chef and MOF Virginie Basselot continues the legend of Chantecler by rooting it with authenticity in modernity. She offers all her personality, her commitment, her fiber of a quiet, demanding strength, freed from a powerful and refined cuisine at the same time, between audacity and precision. Plates vibrate with the sincerity of products sublimated with their own truth.
Born in Deauville, in her fertile and gourmet Normandy, she immersed herself very early in the world of catering with her father who mastered the art of hospitality and « bien manger » in his Auberge de Pont-Lévêque. She discovers, tastes and learns beautiful and noble produces. After hesitating to become a fighter pilot, she « commits » to the kitchen, despite her father’s reluctance to see her embrace this difficult and sometimes thankless career. She braves obstacles, goes through all the steps to succeed and live from her passion: between internships and apprenticeships first with Christian Girault, then in the brigades of Ciro’s and at the Casino de Deauville…. At 19, she leaves her native land for Paris and works directly at the Crillon (orchestrated by Dominique Bouchet), then she joined the teams of Guy Martin at Le Grand Véfour, which obtained the third star some time later; she learned there the rigor and the vibrations of such a consecration. The brigade’s successive trips with the chef to Japan introduced her to new techniques, such as the meticulous cutting of fish and the refinement of working with vegetables… After three years, she returned to a Parisian Palace, this time at Le Bristol, with Eric Fréchon, who aims to reach the firmament of excellence with three stars: he surrounds himself with the youngest chefs in the capital, passionate and vibrant with a thirst and a biting desire to create and give the best of themselves, like Virginie Basselot, Nicolas Decherchi, Christopher Hache and Stéphane d’Aboville. The third star arrived in 2009 when Virginie was named « Sous-chef »: one of the first women to hold this position in an establishment of this size. She then dreams of flying with her own wings and opening her own establishment (Eric Fréchon and his father advise her, given the situation, to first become the chef of a fine house), and it is the Saint-James in Paris, an atypical hotel (Relais & Châteaux and Club Privé at the same time), with a British atmosphere, country-chic and cozy, with a warm and friendly dimension, who offered her, in 2013, the position of chef; a year later, she obtained a star in the Michelin Guide. In 2015, she entered the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition and became the second female chef to achieve this distinction, following chef Andrée Rosier in 2007. Some time later, Laurent Branover (general manager of La Réserve Hotel , Spa & Villas Geneva) offers her to become the executive chef of the 4 restaurants and room service at this refuge of luxury and hospitality, full of Swiss elegance and discretion, located a few kilometers from the center of Geneva, on the shores of Lake Leman. She is in charge of Le Loti gastronomy and as well collaborates with chefs Éric Canino at Café Lauren, Frank Xu at the starred Chinese restaurant Tsé Fung, and is elected by the Gault Millau Switzerland guide « Chef of the Year 2018 ».
The same year, following the departure of Jean-Denis Rieubland, Le Negresco and its director Pierre Bord (who knew how to breathe renewal and modernity into the establishment in a respectful continuity) were looking for an ideal profile to take over from the kitchens of Le Chantecler, La Rotonde, room service and banquet service, and which corresponded to the image and philosophy of this jewel from the Promenade des Anglais. Virginie is a discreet, determined and direct person, who knows what she wants: she is the right fit. Very quickly seduced by the place, its history and especially its atypical side, she agreed to take the reins of the kitchens at Le Negresco and continue to create its history. Madame Augier would certainly have liked this collaboration and would have been proud to see a first female chef and MOF in her establishment. Both have a path of free, creative and enterprising women, who know how to shape their path in their own way, without constraint and fear of « sayings », always to move forward.
After some time to tame this institution and its organization, the chef has formed a brigade in her image, with an idea of transmission and sharing, she has surrounded herself with passionate and exciting young cooks who truly love their job intensly, like Victor Marion, Charles Bernard….. Together, they bring a new dynamic and scope that Le Chantecler lacked, and make it vibrate with sincerity in tune with the times.
Virginie Basselot, who has immersed herself in the region and its culinary traditions while keeping her personality and her signature dishes, has a real passion for the produces she discovers, unearths during her wanderings in the hinterland. It transmits and transcribes with accuracy the know-how of its producers and suppliers whom it honors throughout its creations: Agnès and Renaud Papone, for their tasty, healthy, « virtuous » and respected vegetables, Eric Martin and Martha-Cécilia Londono Salazar for their exceptional poultry with silky flesh and good taste of yesteryear, the neighboring butcher: La Maseleria, for the black pig from Bigorre, fish from the Baie des Anges by Steve Molinari (one of the last fishermen in Nice), not forgetting the Nery’s cheeses, a cheese maker located behind Le Negresco… We travel throughout the French Riviera, from Saint-Jeannet to Antibes, via Menton, Venanson and Valderoure… a selection as rarely as local and of real proximity.
The menu, Les Secrets de Virginie, perfectly reveals the philosophy, commitment and personality of the chef and her brigade in all its depth.
It all starts with some amuse-bouche presented, like jewels with a Nissart accent, on an olive wood stand, and placed elegantly on a silver olive branch surrounded by a few pebbles from the so close Baie des Anges for a perfect echo. The socca is crispy with a tuile and wrapped in a chickpea cream. The pissaladière structuring itself as it goes: anchovies, then onions, and fine paste to quickly becomes itself in its own right in the mouth. The boletus cromesquis is a mouthful bursting, with the terroir and undergrowth of hinterland. The Normandy Beurre cru is in a duo: plain or twisted by lemon and olive oil. The excellent bread, from the artisan baker of the starred tables of the region (Jean-Paul Véziano in Antibes), served in a porcelain basket (signed by the ceramist Sylvie Lorne) placed on the table is a great reminder of moments of sharing in family.
The pre-starter immerses you in the depths of the Mediterranean, riso pasta and saffron petals trapped in lemon jelly, topped with siphoned rock fish soup. In a single spoon, one finds all the traces of a real soup in fishermen tradition, but here in a powerful and concentrated version, with intense relief. The lemon revives and energizes everything, the parmesan croutons bring the gourmet crunch and are fleshed out in harmony with the saffron flower, like a rouille. It’s vibrant, sincerely impactful and just rightly awakens the taste buds.
Wild Mediterranean sea bass and Normandy oysters in tartare, lemon cream and Sologne caviar: a signature dish from the chef who wonderfully tells her story, her love of the sea (whether Mediterranean or Channel) and fine products . The plate is refined, chiseled and readable, not convoluted, it goes straight to the flavors in the mouth and touches the heart. The iodine is mastered with precision and jubilation, the Krystale oyster with its pearly taste gives its bite, and the sea bass balances in finesse, the caviar is smooth, the lemon cream soothes in relief and the sea lettuce, in a creamy tip , brings this herbaceous freshness from the sea, so pleasant, and which finalizes in a beautiful length: everything is there!
L’instant Végétal with radishes, Muscat grapes, herb sorbet: simplicity and infinite visual purity of a perfect vegetal starter. A sublime garden of flavours, which whets the appetite and cleanses the palate with a balanced acidity, a natural and harmonious sweetness of Muscat. The « red meat » radish in carpaccio is bursting with life, the olive oil, like a fiery fruit, and the honey vinaigrette prodigiously plump up this little vegetable world. The four-herb and citrus sorbet (lemon, lime, orange) frames and completes the whole thing.
Scallops from the Baie de Seine, fresh persimmons from Golf-Juan and tarragon condiment: cooked like meat on the barbecue, with a balanced smoked edge, the scallops captivate by their texture and flavor, between power and subtlety. The persimmon coulis brings its benefactor paradox, astringent and honeyed at the same time, it is pricked with tarragon gel for a perfect herbaceous harmony precipitating the Saint-Jacques in a dimension of the sublime.
Agnès’ celeriac lacquered with heather honey, Ethiopian coffee steamed bread with leaves: everything begins in the first service with the steamed bread with celery leaves, this small smooth green rounded ball is reminiscent of a Gourmet Bao stuffed as a surprise with a brunoise of celery which acclimatizes the palate for the next step, it’s greedy and playful at the same time. Then comes celeriac, round and perfect in appearance, reminiscent of that great Indian delicacy, Gulab. The celery is roasted and stewed like a piece of meat, fed with coffee and honey which brings this lacquered side to Asian dishes, with a hoisin sauce, and Kumpot pepper spruces it all up: a concentrate of flavor in maximum reduction of a great personality. Once cuts, one bites, one sauces, one tastes … it’s brilliant, gourmet and joyful.
Le Trou Normand, caramelized apples, Granny Smith sorbet and calvados: a real nod from the chef to her origins and a tradition of great tables. It’s fresh, justified and perfectly well done.
Lièvre à la royale, celery, chestnuts, watercress farfalle and horseradish is an emblematic game dish of French gastronomy, which had been somewhat set aside in recent years and is making a comeback with today’s chefs who reconnect with tradition and offer it in a respected, but refined version. The chef presents it in its hot galantine form topped with its wine sauce bound in power, smooth and shiny. All aromas and flavors are concentrated and candied at the same time. Chestnut purée and celery balls reinforce the seasonality of this dish. The watercress farfalles have the good buttery taste of childhood pasta dishes, with that herbaceous hint of watercress, which kindly tickles this racy hare.
Cheeses from our regions selected and matured by the neighboring cheese maker Nery.
It’s the turn of the pastry team to take over to finish this menu gently and comfort.
The Golfe-Juan Kaki with Sakura vinegar, crispy and puffed rice tuile is the pre-dessert of a transition in freshness, a link between salty, sweet, bitter and acid, and prepares the palate towards the sequel. Persimmon is an atypical and rarely worked fruit, it is here associated with Sakura vinegar which reinforces its identity and can destabilize or disconcert certain palates.
Champsoleil olive oil, light orange blossom cream, fine chocolate petals from Venezuela: the fine filigree chocolate leaves play with shadow and light, as if fallen directly from the tree. They hide an airy cream numbed with soothing orange blossom, like a Lebanese white coffee. The wriggling line of olive oil revives the senses and unites the whole.
Sweets, presented as mignardises, round off this remarkable, impactful and committed menu.
Green apple and fennel tartlet, green cardamom and blueberry marshmallow roll and ravioli, revisited calisson from Aix en Provence, almond and bergamot compote.
The food and wine pairing proposed on the menu is a fabulous journey through the richness of France’s vineyards and beyond, perfectly timed and told with emotion by the sommelier team. The wine book is a veritable compendium of in-depth references.
The service sparkles with a sweet pride in a beautiful mission: that of pleasing to offer a unique, true and emotional moment: Florian, Nawfal, Marjorie, Ricardo… all contribute with professionalism to gourmet happiness.
The prestigious room with wood paneling dating from 1751 and 18th century portraits which has welcomed, for more than 40 years, gourmets, known and unknown gastronomes, greats of this world and crowned heads, stars and artists… would have so many things to tell and could thus live in the past and turn its back on the future… if it weren’t for the arrival of the chef, a new director (Lionel Servant) and a young and enthusiastic team. Together, they make the tradition evolve with respect, in modernity. This year, the room has been sublimated by contemporary light effects, the pink tablecloths are no longer, and are replaced by immaculate white linen that highlights the tableware, custom-made by Elisabeth Monroy for Safran creations. The presentation plate of the rooster, signed by the painter and friend of Madame, Isabelle Planté (who also signed the portrait of Madame « La Dame à l’Oeillet »), stands out in all its splendour. The work of floral art by florist and MOF Hervé Freyzal is like a frame that paces the seasons. The flamboyant carpet is immutable from Madame’s legacy. The new terrace in front of the Promenade des Anglais, with trendy and padded furniture, is a bubble of glamour, chic and timeless, where it is so good to enjoy a cocktail for a perfect prelude to gourmet pleasures. The emblematic main entrance, with the red and gold awning of the gleaming Chantecler, resumes its function: to welcome customers in style.
A dinner at Chantecler by Virginie Basselot is a rare and accomplished moment that is hard to forget, because experiencing a dinner of grace, attention, passion, life and great gastronomy remains etched in the memory of the senses at never.
Madame would have been so proud to see Le Chantecler shine again in the firmament of French gastronomy today, with this very special touch that characterizes Le Negresco so well.
A Negresco that is constantly evolving: new rooms and suites have been refurbished and interpreted in the House spirit, made by upholsterers (Compagnons du Devoir) from the workshops located on site (the hotel has received the « Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant »), this year, the mezzanine of the Bar has been newly fitted out for an intimate, precious and almost secret moment and in the coming months, the establishment will be expanded with a superb Spa located on three levels with swimming pool and cabins treatments… Le Negresco: La Légende de demain!
Starters €41 to €98 – Dishes €52 to €110 – Desserts €25
Menu Awakening of the Senses in 3 Acts 110€ – Food and wine pairing 75€
Menu Le Chant des Saveurs in 5 Acts 150€ – Food and wine pairing 100€
Menu Les Secrets de Virginie in surprises, 8 Acts – Food and wine pairing 120€
37 Promenade des Anglais
+33 (0) 4 93 16 64 00