Villa Azur Restaurant & Lounge

Villa Azur is lovely. The indoor area, which encompasses a bar and lounge alongside the dining room, mimics the sleek, sumptuous, yet relaxed style of caf&eactue;s on the Côte d'Azur -- wood plank floors, bookshelves, chandeliers, and fireplaces -- but with the addition of a DJ booth. French doors open to a leafy, lushly landscaped courtyard patio. The menu of executive chef Mickael Bensa, a native of Nice, concentrates mostly on Mediterranean territory, with occasional forays into other parts of France and Italy. The fare is fresh and prepared in a competent fashion, but nothing stands out. One uninspired dish followed another to the table like a string of second-tier stars strutting the red carpet during an off year at the Oscars. Appetizers include burratina cheese with grape tomatoes and basil, artichokes with cherry tomatoes and Reggiano shavings, and hand-minced beef tartare accompanied by quail egg. A full raw bar's worth of sea-culled delicacies is proffered -- oysters, clams, langoustines, lobster -- along with Petrossian caviar in all its glorious forms (with blini and accompaniments). They are more or less obligatory offerings for the jet-set clientele Villa Azur seeks. Steaks come adorned with morel mushrooms, Dover sole is served à la meunière, and prices are high. If they're too high for your budget, consider Villa Azur an ideal venue for spending a leisurely cocktail hour. The list of elixirs is long and temptingly touts inventive mixes. Sharing a Chardonnay in the garden would be quite romantic. There are myriad bottles to choose from at the on-site wine market, Cave D'Azur, though markups are higher than the blood pressure of middle-aged men on a Saint-Tropez beach.