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Posts Tagged ‘traditional French food in Monaco’

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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Quai des Artistes restaurant in the Monaco’s port

Cuisine: French brasserie, seafood

Visit: June 2012

Price: high with some appetizers in the €20 range and main courses around €30 and more. High quality seafood is not cheap in Europe though today, so the price is justifiable.

Seafood platter with the view of the Monaco’s port

Atmosphere: Buzzing, casual and very French. What I mean by the later is that the Art deco design of the interior with its long wooden bar and the staff conservatively dressed in white shirts with black pants are the signature feature of classical French brasserie. During the cold months the indoor premisses are filled with local customers and when it warms up they all together with Monaco’s tourists move outdoors to a larger terrace. It is lively there not just because of the diners sharing their daily stories within the tables, but also because of the location – right in the busy port surrounded by restaurants, bars and nightclubs open late towards the morning hours. The staff is friendly, speaks English and some of them even Italian. The final big plus is that you can wear almost anything you feel like – with the exception of the flip-flops.

The old classical bar inside

Food:  From the French traditional fish soup – Soupe de Poissons de roche de la pêche locale en croûte de feuilletage (Homemade fish soup with its puff pastry top), which is outstanding to a gourmet treat of Burgundy snails with mild garlic butter you can get practically anything what is a staple of the French cuisine.

On the other hand, with the Asian trend spanning even to these traditional brasseries, the Japanese duo: raw and yuzu marinated salmon, warm potato and avocado Makis, ginger, wasabi surely satisfies the Japanese cuisine fans.

The favorite warm dish of many regular guests is the Grand risotto crémeux aux fruits de mer, noix de St Jacques, gambas, crevettes et moules d’Espagne (Creamy seafood risotto: scallops, mussels, gambas, prawns). It does not come cheap (36 €), but the generous portion will sate most, even the big eaters. The seafood is so fresh and the creamy texture so delicate that this dish callas for some white wine with good acidity. Sauvignon Blanc from Loire or a rosè from Provance add a bit of freshness and zest to this rich risotto.

From the purely seafood courses, perhaps the most popular is a fresh seafood platter on ice – ranging from various oysters and shrimps to crab or lobster – the offer is wide.

If you feel like having a fish, then I highly recommend the Filet de Loup « plancha », fricassée de légumes verts Primeurs. The Grilled sea bass fillet with mixed green vegetables has a wonderful soft texture as a great sea bass should have, the crisp skin is edible (not like in most of fish dishes) and the crunchy vegetables in olive and herb sauce are perfectly accompanying the fish.

Grilled sea bass fillet at the Quai des Artistes

The meat offer is large as well, yet the seafood at the Quai des Artistes is so good that I would stick to it. You can peak at the menu.

Drinks: You can start with an aperitif at the recently opened outdoor bar – open daily from 5h30pm – 2h00am. The wine list is focused on France (not a surprise at a French brasserie) and is build so many wines match the prevailing seafood dishes. We could not have chosen better – the mineral Chablis, 2010 from Grand Règnard was just perfect with our seafood platter as well as the fish later.

Opening hours: Mon-Sun: Lunch: 12h00-2h30pm(Sun: till 2h45pm); Dinner: 7h30pm – 11h00pm (Fri&Sat: till 11h15pm)

Contact: +(377) 97 97 97 77

Address: 4, Quai Antoine 1er, Monaco, 98000

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