You would expect nothing less than Michelin stars and the finest dining from around the world in Europe’s wealthiest nation. With top chefs, handpicked fresh ingredients, first-rate service, spectacular views, ambiance fit for a king (or Albert II, the Prince of Monaco) and an impressive array of awards, the tiny Principality of Monaco is a gourmet haven. For most, sitting down to a five-course gourmet meal is a special occasion but in Monaco, top restaurants serve more pocketbook friendly lunch menus.
Le Grill at Hôtel de Paris
Located on the eighth floor of the legendary Hôtel de Paris, Le Grill affords diners panoramic views over the yacht-filled harbor and the Casino du Monte Carlo and the roof slides open to reveal the sunny blue skies. The nautical themed dining room is gorgeous too, with around just 25 tables to allow for an intimate dining experience. But the star of Le Grill is the cuisine.
Our sumptuous meal began with being offered a glass of champagne from the champagne cart while we perused the lunch menu. The a la carte options were tempting, but we both opted for the three-course lunch tasting menu. The menu changes weekly based upon the fresh ingredients from local markets and we both started with an amuse-bouche of creamy potato soup with octopus. For our first course, I selected the handmade pasta with spring vegetables and Tim opted for the lamb-leaf salad with duck breast. We both enjoyed the filet of pork with croquettes as our main.
We particularly enjoyed the 1998 L’Enclos Gallen Margaux, an elegant Bordeaux blend with tastes of preserved fruit and a hint of oak. The wines are all picked as part of the dining experience by the Wine Tasting Committee in a weekly meeting that takes place in the cellar beneath the Hôtel de Paris.
The meal was delicious, but the highlight was yet to come. The soufflé recipe is the same one that has been used by the Hôtel de Paris since 1898. Practically as historic as the hotel, we both had to choose soufflé for dessert and were presented with around half a dozen flavor options. My raspberry was a like a sweet pink cloud with a fresh bowl of raspberries served alongside. Tim had the chocolate, which was rich like a chocolate fondant and served with a pot of cream.
We slowly sipped our coffees and nibbled on a tray of chocolate and other sweet bits reluctant to leave the sun-kissed views of the harbor and palace.
The three-course lunch tasting menu at Le Grill is €75 per person with beverages included. Smart dress and reservations required.
Elsa at Monte Carlo Beach
The beach chic restaurant’s decor is inviting and the waves crashing up onto the rocks just below the terrace add to the atmosphere. I love the black and white photos of Monte Carlo in days gone by hanging on the restaurant walls. Executive Chef Paolo Sari himself even came out to warmly welcome and the other diners shortly after we’d arrived. But like Le Grill, the star of Elsa is its cuisine.
Elsa has both one Michelin star and is also the first restaurant in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region to receive the prestigious Bio (organic) certification by Ecocert. Everything from the bread to ice cream is 100% organic and only the freshest, seasonal ingredients are served. Chef Sari had prepared a special meal for us and we couldn’t wait to see what he had in store for us.
We staretd with a salad of seasonal spring vegetables, radishes and flowers dressed with only olive oil and fleur de sel. Our waiter wheeled over a cart with a variety of organic olive oils from Spain, France, and Italy and we each chose the one suited to our tastes. The spring vegetables were a work of art, thinly sliced and curled into spirals that were held in place by a creamy avocado base. It was simple, yet delicious.
Cappelletti stuffed with guinea fowl and served with baby vegetables and sage scented consommé followed. The consommé was poured over the cappelletti table side. It was light and flavorful.
I was nervous I wouldn’t like the John Dory, which was our main course. I’d had it before at the Four Seasons Prague, but wasn’t a fan. This time though the John Dory, a saltwater white fish, was mild and slightly sweet. It was dressed in a citrus foam and served with potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and flowers.
We finished off with a cream filled pastry with berries for dessert along with a selection of pastries and chocolates.
The three-course tasting menu at Elsa is €98 per person without drinks. A la carte from €115 per person. Smart casual dress and reservations are required.
Blue Bay Brunch at Monte Carlo Bay
Who doesn’t love brunch? Blue Bay takes the best of breakfast and lunch to deliver a unique meal with their Sunday Bubbly Brunch. Greeted with a glass of Tattinger champagne, waiters show guests around to the various stations on the way to your table on the terrace overlooking the gorgeous beach and sea.
Blue Bay really raises the bar on the brunch game. You won’t find the typical buffet tables; instead everything is cooked to order and options are presented on chic chalkboard menus at each station. With everything from colorful macarons to salami sliced fresh on the meat slicer and a fresh seafood bar to a kid’s corner perfectly placed at kid level, you’re sure to find something to tickle your taste buds.
A few of our favorites were the salad bar, where a menu offers thoughtful, masterful salads like the salade gourmande and salade exotique; the fresh sea food bar with delicious oysters, shrimp, and mussels; and the grill with lamb, ratatouille, risotto, and other delicious cooked-to-order dishes. Of course, the dessert selection was divine. Don’t miss the macarons!
The Blue Bay Sunday Bubbly Brunch is €85 per person and is served every Sunday from 12:30 – 3pm. Reservations are required.
Disclosure: Our trip to Monte Carlo was hosted by Monte Carlo SBM in order to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely our own.