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FOOD & DINING IN MONACO

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FOOD & DINING IN MONACO

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Postby Monaco Information » Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:30 am

FOOD & DINING IN MONACO

Baccarat

Baccarat is an elegant testimonial to the flavours and presentations of Italy, with an emphasis on Sicily, birthplace of owner-chef Carmelo Gulletta. The avant-garde paintings of Monégasque painter Clérissy line the walls of the vaguely Art Deco space, but the owners say the cuisine is more Italian and less "Monésgasque" than anything else in Monaco. Guletta's French-born, English-speaking wife, Patricia, supervises the dining room. The antipasti selection is the best in the principality, ranging from steamed asparagus with hollandaise to Andalusian gazpacho. The chefs turn out risottos as good as anything in Italy along with Monaco's most enticing pastas, like savoury spaghetti with baby clams. In general, fish dishes such as sole meunière are better than meat and poultry offerings.

Bar et Boeuf

This restaurant is one of the many jewels in the crown of super-chef Alain Ducasse, who is, according to many critics, both a culinary genius and the orchestrator of an upscale international assembly line. Gael Greene has referred to him as "Robo-Chef," and a small number of increasingly vocal critics complain about "franchise sprawl." You can still get a genuinely good meal here, even if none of it is prepared or even supervised by Ducasse. Bar et Boeuf is an upscale Gallic reinvention of a surf-and-turf restaurant. The only fish here is sea bass (bar), and the beef is perhaps the most cosseted and fussed-over meat in France. Examples include filets of sea bass with citrus marmalade and an assortment of species of braised celery; filet steak with Sicilian herbs; beef Wellington; and beef with a sauté of taggiasche (Italian) olives and wine glaze, served with fried spiny artichokes. The most lavish dish is tournedos Rossini layered with foie gras and truffles, served with a tartare of truffled foie gras and exotic pan-fried mushrooms.

L'Argentin

Loaded with panache, and decorated like a very upscale version of what you might have found somewhere on the Argentine plains, this stylish restaurant is on the lobby level of a hotel that the Fairmont group took over in March 2005. Within an environment loaded with autumn colors, polished copper, leather banquettes, and big windows overlooking the sea, diners enjoy some of the best grilled meat dishes in town. (A limited array of fish is served, but because the same hotel also maintains a separate seafood restaurant, Le Pistou, on its seventh floor, most clients are here for the meats.) One of the specialties on which this place has built its name is a tampiquea, a much-marinated spicy filet of beef served with guacamole, salsa, tortillas, and a puree of string beans. An equally succulent choice is a standing hunk of roast beef presented on a wheeled trolley and carved at tableside.

Le Café de Paris

Its plats du jour are well prepared, and its location, the plaza adjacent to the casino and the Hôtel de Paris, allows a front-row view of the comings and goings of the nerve center of Monte Carlo. This 1985 re-creation of old-time Monaco is a bit too enraptured with the devil-may-care glamour of early-1900s Monte Carlo. Despite that, the Café de Paris continues to draw patrons who appreciate the razzmatazz and all the glass and chrome. Menu items change frequently. Local office workers appreciate the platters, especially at lunchtime, because they can be served and consumed quickly. They range from fresh grilled sea bass to steak tartare with matchstick frites. Adjacent to the restaurant, you'll find (and hear) a jangling collection of slot machines and a predictable cluster of boutiques.

Le Grill de l'Hôtel de Paris

In the flood of publicity awarded to this hotel's street-level restaurant, Le Louis XV , it's been easy to overlook the equally elegant contender on the rooftop. The view alone is worth the expense, with the turrets of the fabled casino on one side and the yacht-clogged harbor of Old Monaco on the other. The decor is gracefully modern, with an ambience somewhat less intense than that in the self-consciously cutting-edge Ducasse citadel downstairs. Despite that, the place is undeniably elegant, with a two-fisted approach to cuisine that includes every imaginable sort of grilled fish (sea wolf, monkfish, sole, salmon, mullet, cod, or turbot) and meat such as Charolais beef and roasted lamb from the foothills of the nearby Alps. In fair weather and in summer, the ceiling opens to reveal the starry sky. The fine cuisine is backed up by one of the Riviera's finest wine lists, with some 600,000 bottles; the wine cellar is carved out of the rock below. Service is faultless but never intimidating or off-putting.

Le Louis XV

In the Hôtel de Paris, the Louis XV offers what one critic called "down-home Riviera cooking within a Fabergé egg." Star chef Alain Ducasse creates refined but not overly adorned cuisine, served by the finest staff in Monaco. Everything is light and attuned to the seasons, with intelligent, modern interpretations of Provençal and northern Italian dishes. You'll find chargrilled breast of baby pigeon with sautéed duck liver, an ongoing specialty known as "Provencal vegetables with crushed truffles," and everything from truffles and caviar to the best stewed salt cod on the coast. Ducasse divides his time between this enclave and his restaurants in Paris and New York. The hotel keeps its collection of rare fine wines in a dungeon chiseled out of the rocks.

Le Texan

These incongruous specialties have entertained even the most discriminating French taste buds. Le Texan has a handful of outdoor tables, a long bar, a roughly plastered dining room with the flag of the Lone Star State, a bar whose shape was inspired by the Alamo in San Antonio, and a scattering of Mexican artifacts. You'll find it on a sloping street leading down to the harbour -- a world away from the casinos and nightlife of the upper reaches. Menu items include T-bone steak, barbecued ribs, pizzas, nachos, tacos, a Dallasburger (avec guacamole), and the best margaritas in town. Thanks to several members of the kitchen staff who hail from India and Morocco, the restaurant also produces some great curry dishes (chicken, beef, and lamb) as well as couscous North African style.

Pizzeria Monégasque

This pizzeria de luxe offers four dining rooms and an outdoor terrace. Almost anyone might arrive -- in a limousine or on a bicycle, in all kinds of garb that could quickly convince you that Monaco is actually a rather small and gossipy town. The owner has grown accustomed to seeing all the follies and vanities of this town pass through his door; he serves pizzas, fish, and grilled meats to whoever shows up. Specialties are magret du canard (duckling), grilled steaks, carpaccio, and beef tartare. Of the 10 kinds of pizza, the most popular are pizza Terrazzini (it includes cheese and pistou) and the "special" version that's served with Tunisian-style merguez.

Rampoldi

More than any other restaurant in Monte Carlo, Rampoldi is linked to the charming but somewhat dated interpretation of La Dolce Vita. Opened in the 1950s at the edge of the Casino Gardens and staffed with a mix of old and new, it's more Italian than French in spirit. It also serves some of the best cuisine in Monte Carlo. Menu items include an array pastas, such as tortelloni with cream and white truffle sauce; sea bass roasted in a salt crust; ravioli stuffed with crayfish; and veal kidneys in Madeira sauce. Crêpes suzette makes a spectacular finish.

Restaurant du Port

Set in a big-windowed restaurant directly on one of the quays overlooking the old port, this is a seafood restaurant that's a bit tough but glamorous, with a sometimes hysterically busy staff that might remind you of the dockyards of Genoa. The venue is very much macho Italian. Menu items might include a selection of elegant pastas (tagliatelle with smoked salmon and spaghetti with lobster), antipasti, and meat dishes like filet of beef aux délices, mignon of veal in orange sauce, rack of lamb with Mediterranean herbs, and a full array of Italian and French wines. Other excellent courses from across-the-border Italy include spaghetti with seafood and a superb filet of veal with porcini mushrooms. The very fresh fish of the day is grilled to perfection. Dessert? Why not a cassata siciliana, a Sicilian dessert made with ricotta cheese, lots of candied fruit, sponge cake, almond paste, and liqueur? In summer, the restaurant expands onto an outdoor terrace overlooking the yachts of the harbour. Interestingly, this restaurant, thanks to its location astride the route followed every year by the Grand Prix de Monaco auto race, rents tables on its veranda for 1,000€ ($1,300) each for the entire duration of the day of the race. The price includes lunch, but wine is extra.

Stars 'n Bars

Modeled on the sports bars popular in the U.S., this place features two dining and drinking areas devoted to American-style food, as well as a bar decorated with memorabilia of notable athletes. No one will mind if you drop in just for a drink, but if you're hungry, menu items read like an homage to the American experience. Try an Indy 500, a Triathlon salad, or the Breakfast of Champions (eggs and bacon and all the fixings). For kids under 12, order the Little Leaguer's Platter or pizza. In 2004, its owners added an all-new dining venue, Fusion Cuisine (same address and phone), to a space upstairs from the main dining room. Here, platters inspired by the cuisines of the Pacific Rim are featured, each within the same price range, and the same hours, as the food served on the restaurant's street level. Examples include sushis, tempuras, rice-based dishes, and fast-wok-fried dishes of meats and seafood.
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