Telegraph - Food & Drink
10 Incredible Restaurants in Monaco, from fresh oysters to Kobe beef
The Monegasque dining game is like Snakes and Ladders. With multiple barriers to entry, only well-established or well-connected names can thrive. This diminutive principality is chock-a-block with Michelin-starred cuisine and elite international restaurant brands. Mediterranean cuisine is the order of the day with culinary heavyweights such as Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon vying for prominence in central Monte-Carlo’s Casino Square. Elsewhere, recent restaurant openings have brought global flavours to Monaco from North Africa, Peru and China. From a gastronomic snacking concept to an oyster bar run by marine biologists, Telegraph Travel destination expert Louise Simpson shares her favourite places to eat.
Alain Ducasse is a Monaco stalwart at the helm of three restaurants at the principality’s Hôtel de Paris on Casino Square. His newest venture plays upon Mediterranean diversity with the strongest flavours from North Africa and the Middle East. The menu features a clever trio of mezze options according to your hunger and your budget. The yacht-like interiors curve around beige-toned alcoves with swathes of polished wood. The most striking feature is the Cercle du Vin, a stonewalled crescent for wine tasting. In summertime, head to the terrace overlooking gardens landscaped by designer Jean Mus.
Contact: +377-98-06-39-39; www.montecarlosbm.com
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 7am-10.30am, 12pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-10pm; Sat-Sun, 7am-11am; 12.30pm-2.30pm; 7.30pm-10.30pm
If you’re in the mood for a speedy gastronomic snack, look no further than this café in the swanky One Monte-Carlo district. It’s the perfect place to unwind at any time of day from breakfast to high tea and early evening drinks. At lunchtime, look out for the well-priced bento trays. This new food-to-go restaurant concept is the brainchild of Caribbean chef Marcel Ravin, who also runs the Michelin-starred Blue Bay restaurant nearby. With its clever contraction of “Madame” and “Madinia” (from Ravin’s native Martinique), Mada One is a delicious fusion of French and Caribbean flavours.
Contact: +377-98-06-68-68; www.montecarlosbm.com
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 8am-8pm
For the world’s best buttery mashed potato, head to this Michelin-starred restaurant at the Hôtel Métropole just off Casino Square. Every detail has been considered from the sumptuous décor designed by Jacques Garcia to the tea trolley frothing with pots of herbs. The late Robuchon had more Michelin stars to his name than any other living chef. His name lives on in the safe hands of Executive Chef Christophe Cussac whose team conjures Mediterranean magic before your eyes in the open-plan kitchen. Classic dishes include John Dory fillet, foie-gras-stuffed quail and milk-fed lamb.
Contact: +377-93-15-15-10; www.metropole.com
Opening times: Thurs-Tues, 12.15pm-2pm; 7.30pm-10.30pm
Best table: the chef’s table beside the open-plan kitchen
Les Perles de Monte-Carlo
On the edge of the pier lies a ramshackle café that happens to be Monaco’s best oyster bar. It’s run by biologist Brice and his Breton partner Frédéric who spent two decades researching every aspect of marine reproduction (from plankton to water parameters) before opening the French Riviera’s first oyster nursery. Officially they aren’t a restaurant, but offer tastings a.k.a. sumptuous selections of seafood from lobster to sea urchins and plenty more in between. With sea views up towards the Prince’s Palace, this is the place to join locals over a glass of organic wine.
Contact: +377-97-77-84-31; www.perlesdemontecarlo.com
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 8am-5pm; Wed-Thurs 8pm-11pm
This Peruvian restaurant is a runaway summertime success. No doubt its location helps: wedged between the Salle des Etoiles summer concert venue, Jimmy’z nightclub and the Mediterranean Sea. A vibrant Latin-American palate and bespoke furnishings have been used in the interiors that fuse seamlessly with the outdoor terrace. From here, exotic plants frame the backdrop of Monte-Carlo’s harbour. The menu contains elaborate dishes such as corvina with truffle, ponzu and chives, and Wagyu beef tacos. Of course, such extravagant dining doesn’t cheap so arrive prepared for a punchy bill.
Contact: +377-98-06-20-20; www.coyarestaurant.com
Opening times: Thurs-Mon, 7am-2am from April to October
Well-heeled locals flock to Cantinetta Antinori: a joint venture between the 700-year-old Florentine wine dynasty and the Monaco Restaurant group. The smart Italian canteen atmosphere is set off by the marble-and-brass décor. No doubt the regulars are drawn by the comforting Tuscan cuisine featuring plenty of fish and meat as well as pasta dishes. Don’t miss the handmade pasta with Kobe beef and black truffles. Lunchtime menus at €24 include a glass of wine from the Antinori wine estates in Italy, while the breakfast menu is also excellent.
Contact: +377-97-77-08-80; www.cantinettaantinori.mc
Opening times: Daily, 7am-11pm
What began life as a somewhat hesitant Moroccan-Indian fusion restaurant has morphed into an elite Indian restaurant club with a little Moroccan corner. Expect smiling table service with flavoursome curries, well-marinated Tandoori lamb chops and sweet Indian breads aplenty. On the other hand, the vegetarian dishes could be more imaginative. Lunchtime diners can now enjoy well-priced Tiffin box menu at just 22 euros. Moorish elements remain in the décor with its Moroccan lanterns and trellis ceiling that curves into the walls. An excellent barman dreaming up exotic cocktails alongside a live DJ lend to the lively atmosphere.
Contact: +377-99-99-49-49; www.mayajah.mc
Opening times: Wed-Sun, 12pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-11pm
Opposite the Japanese Garden, Chinese cuisine has been perfected at Song Qi. Alan Yau, the man behind Hakkasan and Wagamama, masterminded this upscale restaurant. The dining room resonates understated affluence from the chartreuse-velour seating to the marble tables and central crescent of golden poles. Dim Sum and lettuce wraps are the signature starters, while the most popular main course is Peking Duck. Patience is required as the duck takes 60 minutes to prepare. Another option is the personal wok where you create your own dish from a choice of meat, fish and sauces.
Contact: +377-99-99-33-33; www.song-qi.mc
Opening times: Daily, 12pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-11pm
Quai des Artistes
This harbourside restaurant is a Monegasque institution. With its enviable location on Port Hercules, this is the place to dawdle over French cuisine and a glass of rosé as you admire the super yachts beside you. Inside the style is warehouse-meets-Parisian-brasserie with neo-Art Deco details. The seafood and caviar are excellent, though it’s hard to beat the lamb shanks cooked slowly on the bone and served with rosemary-infused mashed potato. It’s popular with tourists and locals alike so make sure you book a table in summer months.
Contact: +377-97-97-97-77; www.quaidesartistes.com
Opening times: Daily, 12pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-11pm
Best table: on the outdoor terrace beside the harbour
La Vigie translates as nautical lookout. It’s an apt name for this cliff-top restaurant that offers unforgettable views over Monte-Carlo’s curving coastline. The order of the day is Mediterranean seafood and live Jazz music. The open kitchen serves up delicious grilled fish and meats as well as a wide selection of sharing starters such as San Remo raw gamberoni and Brillat-Savarin cheese with black figs and 25-year-old Balsamic vinegar. The wine menu focuses on champagne. Despite its Roquebrune-Cap-Martin address, this restaurant is part of the government-owned Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel whose road access is in Monaco.
Contact: +377-98-06-52-52; www.montecarlosbm.com
Opening times: Daily 12pm-12am frommid-June to mid-September
Best table: on the far deck (except on windy nights when your tablecloth might blow off so it’s best to stick to the covered terrace)