Posts Tagged ‘The hottest places in Monte Carlo’

Cuisine: French, Italian and Asian

Visit: July 2012

Part of the Monaco Restaurant Group, this is my favorite place to eat. It has a vibrant atmosphere and a wide selection of food so if I do not feel like French tonight I choose one of the excellent Japanese or Italian dishes featuring on the menu. I have been there a number of times and it was (so far) always great to excellent.

Price: high (appetizers between €10-20, main meat and seafood courses between €25-50 depending on the ingredient).

Roasted seabream

Chef:  Thierry Paludetto
Atmosphere: Cool, vibrant and modern. In the summer you can sit outside at a spacious terrace. The restaurant’s proximity to the sea is exploited for the benefit of the fresh breeze loving guests. You can feel it even inside and the lamps dangling from side to side are proof that the wind is real. Usually the music is very good and creates good energy and pace. Many diners dress like to a night club with ladies in mini dresses and men in cool shirts. There are three different set-ups in the restaurant each catering to a different kind of guest:

  • the outside terrace for alfresco dining.
  • the entry open room right by the bar creating vibrant and social atmosphere.
  • at the back there is a more secluded room adding to a private feel.

Puff pastry with cream and raspberry

Food: It is about fun, international exploration and impressive presentation. From the the japanese starters I highly recommend the Seaweed salad which can appeal even to some of the detractors of this raw vegetal dish. The slightly crunchy and balanced seaweed is a very light starter or a great companion to other japanese dishes such as maki rolls and new style sashimi. To share or as a light main course the Salmon tartare with yuzu kosho is a fun meal involving a small live performance from one of the waiters as he mixes its ingredients up right in front of you. The same serving approach as at the LAs famous Boa steak house with their excellent steak tartare.

Waiter preparing my tartare

Tuna tartare ready on the plate

Perhaps the best I have ever tried elsewhere is the restaurant’s take on the modern japanese classic the Spicy tuna on crispy rice with its own original ingredients and spices sprinkled over the sushi-like dish. The crisp fried rice is refreshed by chopped tuna paste with spicy touch and luxurious topping of saffron.
Moving to the Italian creations at Avenue 31, the thinly crusted pizzas are a sin to miss for the light and crisp pizza lovers. The super thin Mozarella, Stracchino, Rucola and truffle version is my favorite. Perfect for sharing. If you cannot decide on which one to get, then order the Mini pizza degustation of three pizzas so you can also explore the menu more and next time choose the one you liked the most.
Veal Milanese

Veal Milanese

From the main Italian meals, the off-the menu Veal Milanaise is as good as at any ristorante or tratoria in Milano. They don’t have it every day, just ask the waiter when you come. It is soft, delicate and the breadcrumb is not oily nor too dry. A great flank of meat!

Also off-the menu are Grilled giant prawns, but these were quite disappointing the last time I had them there. The raw seafood is much better. The quality of the seafood is high so it is safe to eat there anything your palate desires – from oysters to lobster.

Still, Avenue 31 is located in Monaco with its French majority requesting its familiar food, so typical French dishes are popular feature of the menu. The Beef steak is not the restaurant’s strength, yet the Beef tartare is outstanding! Perhaps the best I have ever had. Again the original take on the ingredients is the winning formula. There are more capers than usual and the meat is melting like a beef gelato rather than a chewy beef gum. The portion is huge so have it as your main course.

From the sides the Corn fries became the Avenue’s hit. We keep ordering them with everything, sometimes even instead of desserts! The perfectly crunchy potato wedges are flawless. You will not taste any oil, but only the intensity of the great potatoes. The only think I miss with them is a tartar sauce, so I end up dipping them into mustard or ketchup. I know, it rings  a bit American, ketchup with everything.

Strawberry panacotta

If I am not in my crazy potato mood, then I steer towards the desert menu. The selection is not wide, but the Dessert of the day is usually very interesting. From delicious strawberry panacotta to chocolate variations you will find a little surprise every day. From the regulars the Tiramisu as well as the ice cream are very good as well as go well with your final cup of coffee after the dinner.

Drinks: The wine list is mainly French eyed, but there are some other wines as well. We always end up ordering either French Burgundy, Bordeaux or Rhone depending on the food we choose. With fish and seafood, the white and some lighter red Burgundy such as Beaune are great fit. With steak a full-bodied Bordeaux or spicier Syrah-based Rhone are our selections. You do not need to spend a fortune for wines here as the list features some around €30 per bottle whites, reds and rosés. The cocktails are also pretty good since the Avenue 31 is a cool and young feeling place. The coffee and tea selection is sufficient, but not overwhelmingly sophisticated. You will find basics such as espresso, cappuccino and green, chamomile and verbena teas.

Contact: Tel. + 377 97 70 31 31
Address: 31 Avenue Princesse Grace, 98000 Monte-Carlo, Monaco

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Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo

Cafè de Paris in Monte Carlo is the iconic cafè every visitor of Monaco must visit at least for a cup of a pick-up coffee or a drink.

Cuisine: French brasserie style.

Price: Medium for Monaco and the portions are generous. Most of the starters, salads and pasta dishes are between €10 and €20. The meats and fish are above €20 (up to €59 for lobster) so here vegetarians have it far cheaper.

The stylish menu

Atmosphere: It is a vibrant, always alive place. There are seats inside in an elegant Art deco styled room as well as outside in cosy chairs with wonderful view of the Monaco’s Opera and the Casino. Many people come here just to enjoy the view and the fancy scenery as the Ferraris and Lamborghinis along with Rolls Royces leave the Casino or its neighboring Hotel de Paris. I never came there for that reason, it was rather my curiosity about the quality of the food there what draw me in. You can wear a dress, but also a more casual pair of pants there, it is not at all as fancy as one may think. It is actually a very comfortable and laid back place if you want it to be like that.

Outside seating

Food: High quality ingredients, fast service and simple preparation with personal touch.

As at any brasserie the salads are highly popular as well as anything served with the french fries. From the salads the traditional Salade Niçoise (lettuce, tuna, tomatoes, celery, green pepper, cucumber, anchovies, hard  boiled egg, olives) is excellent here and the seasonal Fresh goat cheese salad is the best friend to a glass of champagne. Served with olive tapenade, lettuce, thick and creamy balsamic vinegar and a slice of bread it is also a great starter. It is slightly smaller than the Niçoise, which could make a main course for a light lunch.

Fresh goat cheese salad

From the warm mains, both the seafood and the meat are widely represented. The Grilled lobster and devil sauce is the most expensive dish on the menu, yet it is excellent. Grilled just right so the meat keeps some juice and served with grilled and steamed vegetables and herb sauce it is another adept for white wine or champagne to pair it with it.

The carnivores will not be cheated at Cafe de Paris as well. From the Sirloin steak Maître d’Hôtel to Grilled fillet steak with herbs and béarnaise sauce, your taste buds will get what they desire. If you dare to try something very French and for some nationalities quite unusual then the Poached calf’s head, Gribiche sauce & steamed potatoes will satisfy your curiosity. I have not had this one, so I am sorry I cannot comment on it. If you have tried it, please let me know in the comment section below this review.

Grilled lobster

Drinks: Some people come here only for drinks – from a cup of coffee or tea to a bottle of champagne. They sit in the front part of the Cafè, where they can enjoy the view of the Casino square with all its glitz. The diners have a nice selection of wines by the bottle. Not many bargains though so I would go for some lesser known wine. We had a bottle of  a red Burgundy from Domaine Faivelay and were more than satisfied with its quality/price value.

Opening hours: Daily: 8am to 2am

Contact: T. (377) 98 06 76 23

Address: Place du Casino, 98000 Monaco

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As a part of the Casino de Monte Carlo this is the highest-end Buddha Bar from all and food-wise the best. Its vibrant atmosphere, cool people, great music, drinks and pretty good food make it a must-go spot if you spend a weekend in Monaco.

Cuisine: Asian (Japanese, Thai and Chinese)

Visit: April 2012 (I have been going there regularly since 2010)

Price: high (you are in Monaco and that is ‘the hot place’)

Atmosphere: You go there for that! Vibrant, trendy, great music from a DJ mixing Buddha Bar’s CDs from a chill in the early hours to more energetic songs in the peak hours (approx. 9pm-11pm). This is a very different Buddha bar than any other I have ever been to. The usual Asian interior is incorporated into a Belle Époque, elegant building creating an eclectic feel to this restaurant/bar. It is smartly done as everyone has to pass through the long bar before climbing up the stairs to the second floor restaurant. The bar attracts many trendy people and it is not only because of its happy hours during the week, but it has a very good cocktails, drinks and snacks and feels much less stuffy than most of the Monaco’s hotel bars.

Food: One would think that the food will not be very good as Buddha Bars are mostly known for their bar scene. Not in Monte Carlo though! Here if you do not do quality, you will not survive for long on this very competitive restaurant scene. Ordering of multiple dishes is recommended and sharing very popular.

To start, I like one of the New Style Sashimis or Buddha Bar own creations such as Yellowtail Tataki With Truffle Oil, which is slightly seared and delicious when you catch the right night. Unfortunately, this is one of the inconsistently good dishes at the restaurant as once it is mind-blowing and other time I have to drink lots of sips of wine in order to finish it. The Mushroom and Artichokes  Salad with Combawa is very tasty as well and never disappoints. Recently a new addition – Chicken salad with crispy crackers cracking in your mouth as you munch through it – became the new hit. Sadly it replaced the Artichokes Salad as the restaurant is in a constant search for ‘new dishes’. Another great novelty is Vegetable Tartar chopped in pieces and crowned by pomegranate seeds it is a must-try appetizer not only for vegetarians. To my relief the Buddha Bar has kept my favorite Sushi Roll ever on the menu – the Buddha Bar Roll, which is a rice-less roll wrapped in a cucumber instead of seaweed, filled with mix of fish and accompanied by a creamy and rich sauce. If you are to get only one dish with a drink do this one.

Buddha Bar Roll

Continuing with something half-cooked before getting into the warm dishes the Spicy Tuna on a Crispy Rice is the irresistible temptation for all spicy and crispy food lovers. It needs some fuller-bodied wine as its flavor profile is high on intensity.

Spicy tuna on a crispy rice

You can continue with sushi and rolls variations or order a main course. The Western-Japanese classics such as Rock Shrimps Tempura with Spicy Mayonnaise and the Black Cod with Miso and Yuzu Sauce are well-done here. The shrimps are crispy, the batter is fried right. The black cod is rich yet delicate as it should be. Sometimes, we order the Grilled Wagyu Beef with Antikucho Sauce, but it is inconsistent in quality and for it being the most expensive dish on the menu, it can turn into a waste of your money. Rather do the Wok Fried Beef with Thai Basil as it is quite consistent and it is half price of the Wagyu dish.

Leave some space for desserts as they are delicious and will please every sweet tooth. A chocolate addict? Get the Warm Chocolate Cake and you will be soothed. Missing a bit France on the menu? Then get a Trio of Cremes Brulees and your francofile self will be pleased. Feeling for something lighter? Get some ice cream. Matcha Green Tea, Coconut and Sesame are my favorites and the sorbets are refreshing.

Bordeaux: Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe

Drinks: The wine list is vibrant as the restaurant’s scene itself. The choice of French wines is wide – from Alsace and its spicy white wines ideal with Asian food; to highly priced Burgundies and Bordeaux. We often get here a Gewurtztraminer or a Riesling from Alsace. Once we tried an intensely fruity and concentrated Bandol and it worked well with a Wagyu Beef but not with any fish dish as it was too rich. A half bottle selection is also satisfactory (as the Bordeaux wine above), so you can experiment and pair the dishes with the wines. Since, most of the dishes are on the share basis and diners tend to order a multiple dishes at once I would recommend ordering two wines at once as well and drink them as you feel with each dish as it comes to your table.

Opening hours & contact: Everyday from 7pm to 2am; Phone: +33 (377) 98 06 19 19

Menu: Since there is not a menu at the Buddha Bar’s website I took a picture of it, so you know ahead what your choices are.

Menu: appetizers&warm mains (April2012)

Menu: sushi & rolls

Menu: Desserts

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