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Where to eat ratatouille

Four of the best places to try ratatouille in its home city, plus four UK restaurants serving their own take on the Niçois classic

By Rebecca Seal
Published 26 May 2019, 21:17 BST
Sardine, London
Sardine, London
Photograph by Sardine, London

Restaurant Acchiardo, Nice

With its rustic decor and simply presented dishes, this restaurant offers perfectly executed Niçoise cooking. Four generations of the same family have passed through its kitchens in Old Nice since 1927, and it’s extremely popular with locals, all of whom seem to know the owners. Book ahead (you might need to visit in person to do so), and enjoy the fact the tables are so snug you’ll end up friends with everyone in the room by the end of the night.
T: 00 33 4 93 85 51 16

Lou Balico, Nice

Something of a local institution, Lou Balico has been serving Niçoise specialities for over 40 years. You’ll find locally grown mesclun-based salads, beignets, freshly made pasta and Nice’s own version of potato gnocchi, which you can have sauced with a Provençal beef stew. The best way to sample a bit of everything? The four-course tasting menu, in which ratatouille is one of the starters. 

A Buteghinna, Nice

Owned and run by three friends (two cooking, one serving), A Buteghinna is a tiny, unprepossessing lunch spot with most of its tables outside. The trio started out in the ’90s and have since won coveted Cuisine Nissard status. Served topped with eggs, the ratatouille here is seasonal (roughly mid-April to mid-October). 

La Rossettisserie, Nice

It’s not that you can only get meaty dishes here, but you probably wouldn’t want to visit with a vegetarian: the mains all centre around roasts and braises (pork, lamb, beef), which are served with ratatouille, and half the starters feature local sausages, duck terrine, or seafood. The set menus feature mixed meat platters too. In short, carnivores will be right at home in this quaint spot. 

Sardine, London 

In in 2016, when Alex Jackson opened Sardine (pictured), diners and reviewers raved about his ratatouille. “I’ve always followed Lulu Peyraud’s recipe [see previous page],” he says. “She knows what she’s talking about.” It’s only on the menu in summer (when the vegetables are in season), and everything is cooked separately. “It ensures the stew is light, distinct and delicious, rather than a brown mulch of boiled veg,” he says. 

Brasserie Zédel, London

This big, beautiful French brasserie in Soho is awash with gilt, art deco flourishes and marbled columns, yet despite its dazzling decor, prices have remained remarkably low (for central London) since it opened its doors in 2012. Boeuf bourguignon, for example, will cost you less than £15, but the ratatouille is undoubtedly the real bargain — only £3.75. 

La Guinguette, Bristol

Set up by three French friends who met through the Paris restaurant trade, this little bar-bistro serves a short menu of French favourites, dished up on vintage crockery, much of which comes from a cafe run by the grandmother of one of the founders. Alongside onion soup, steak frites and roasted camembert, you’ll find a perfect ratatouille, as well as pissaladière tarts, which also hail from Nice. End your meal with either flaming crêpes Suzette or a Nutella parfait. 

Heaney’s, Cardiff

“It’s almost become uncool to use classic recipes, but I love homely food with bold flavours — and ratatouille is exactly that.” So says chef Tommy Heaney, who crowd-funded to open this restaurant last year. “If I’m cooking it in the restaurant, I do it a little differently: all the vegetables are at their peak in the summer so I cook each to a minimum to allow for texture and freshness. Plenty of good quality olive oil and summer herbs, and then served on toasted sourdough or with grilled mackerel.” Look out for ratatouille as part of his daily-changing, 10-course tasting menu.   

Want to know more? Read our latest feature on ratatouille.

Published in issue 5 of National Geographic Traveller Food

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