Having read the many positive reviews here our expectations were high when we arrived at Sense, situated near the centre of Nice's Place Massena.
Unfortunately we had reserved a table a week in advance, seucuring us a table in the fully booked restaurant.
We chose the 38€ menu and were immediately treated with a small appetizer in the form of a bland succhini-soup, sprinkled with dried lavender leaves.
For starters we chose snails in garlic sauce and squid.
The snails were plucked from their houses and perched atop a small piece of utterly tasteless, boiled potato alongside a sad attempt at a red wine reduction, that did little to add to the experience.
The "squid salad" turned out to be marinated squiq that was tasty, but most likely not fresh, served with a tiny bowl of du puy lentils with vinegar.
The white wine was excellent.
It took more than an hour from our arrival till our main-courses were on the table. Three steaks and a risotto with scallops.
The steak was supposedly organic filét, but had the qualities of a cheaper cut, it was incorrectly prepared, well-done, not medium-rare, chewy and tasteless served ontop of mashed potatoes with truffle - I found three pieces of nearly raw potato. The garniture was hopelessly bland onions and leeks.
Of all the disappointments, the risotto was the worst. It tasted like porridge, the scallops were dry and the rice used were not risotto rice.
The restaurant has two windows in the floor, allowing the guests to view the kitchen, and once I started watching the "chefs" work, the source of the problem became clear.
Perhaps the regular chef was ill this evening. The people in the kitchen were obviously amateurs with little or no experience. They worked at a very slow pace, mixed fresh vegetables and raw meat, licked their fingers and had no concept of how to handle their tools and workstations.
My desert consisted of slices of pear boiled in red-wine, again bland and uninteresting. The cheese was good.
After complaining about the risotto, which was especially atrocious, the staff gave us a bottle of good white wine, which was a nice gesture.
The decor was beautiful and well thought through, the staff was friendly and smiling, and did their best to compensate for the shortcomings of the kitchen.
We ended up paying a total of 208€ for four people, not exactly cheap by French standards, but reasonable, had the standard been higher.
It's difficult not to be sympathetic to the all-organic concept of the place, and the waiters deserve much credit for their attentiveness.
All in all it was a disappointing experience and I'm happy we opted for Le Bistro Gourmand and their 2012 Wine Special for my girlfriend's birthday three days earlier.
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