If it’s good enough for Mungo Jerry, then what are you waiting for?
Let us imagine that you have tired of Provençal cooking. You want something different. You want something exotic. You want something … Armenian! How lucky can you get? The Côte-d’Azur’s only Armenian restaurant (called, rather cleverly, Le Restaurant Arménien) is on the Cannes sea-front.
It has been there since 1985 and has built up quite a reputation for mezzés – those flurries of little dishes which spread endlessly across the table and make mid-Eastern dining such frenzied fun.
You can’t restrain yourself from trying them all – and, here at least, you’re right not to. They’re a terrific bunch of different and complementary tastes. As you’d expect, cracked wheat is to the fore flanked by meat, fish and, especially, fresh vegetable and spice concoctions. And they tend to be lighter than their Turkish equivalents, because most are steamed rather than fried.
My favourite may be kechkeg – stewed beef on cracked wheat – which is apparently Armenia’s national dish. (Learning that meant I now knew three things about Armenia.)
The surroundings are, I imagine, typically Armenian – light to the front, going darker and redder as you get further in. The coloured panels and mirrors put me in mind of an Orthodox church, but I’ve not seen many so I may be way off beam there.
At any event, it’s an extremely jolly place to be, with fewer aspirations to be cool than one finds in Cannes French restaurants. In the past, that has suited not only the members of Mungo Jerry but also Sting, Nicholas Cage and Ang Lee. I’m not sure I’d want to share a table with Sting – he might start talking – but it’s certain he wouldn’t want to share with me, either. With that problem sorted, I really can’t see any others.