Louis XV is one of three 3 Michelin starred restaurants by the legendary French chef Alain Ducasse. It is a former number 3 restaurant on the prestigious World Top 50 list. It’s heartening to see a classic restaurant, focused on seasonal and regional products, like Louis XV be on the World Top 50 list, even if just for a couple of years. I say that becasue the list, which is voted for each year by over 1000 chefs and industry insiders, usually favors ultra modern, cutting edge type places. Louis XV is located in the Hotel de Paris in Monaco in the same plaza as the legendary Monte-Carlo Casino.
We arrived early becasue I wanted to channel my inner James Bond and try my luck at the roulette wheel. Last time I was in Monaco I won a quick €50 that went about as far as a gelato in Monaco but still it was nice. This time, however, I was met with a €17 charge to enter the casino. I was no more inclined to pay to enter a casino than I would be to enter Walmart. I’m not paying to gamble! So I took some pictures of the cars out front and entered Le Hotel de Paris. To my disappointment they are renovating the restaurant so it has moved into a temporary dining room. Granted it was the most stunning temporary set up I’ve ever been in. Heck is was more stunning, in true Monaco style, than any of the other 8 restaurants I would be visiting in my trip, most 3 Michelin stars as well. The amount of leather in the restaurant was amazing, from the walls to the large booth style seats. I do wish I was made aware that the meal wouldn’t be in the normal dining room, not that it would have made a difference to my dining choice for the night.
We were seated and given our menus. It’s interesting to point out that for the second time of our trip I was handed a menu with prices, the reservation was in my name, and my friend was handed a menu without prices. Apparently this was very standard in high-end places as a way to have women order more expensive items as they would always be handed menus without prices. Women must be more price sensitive in restaurants lol.
We were offered various canapés but the crispy ravioli’s, a monaco staple, were by the far the best and amazing. I could’ve eaten 50 of these and called it a night.
After that we were brought a pan with screaming hot rocks with 6 different small bites of local fish and seafood. They pour some kind of fragrant broth over the rocks and place a glass lid over it to steam your seafood table side. It was a fantastic opening to the meal as it highlighted the awesome local products that Monaco has being right on the French Riviera touching the Mediterranean.
I have to mention that there was a dedicated server in the dining room whose sole job was the bread and butter service. He has his own stand and on it a giant block of butter that he shaves off to make the rolls of butter for each table. And of course bread as he diligently restocks my bread plate.
The lobster dish was delicious. The picture doesn’t do it justice as it was potentially the best lobster I had all trip. It was served cold with a melon and ginger broth/granita. It was terrific.
Vegetables are in style in France. Always considered a sauce, cream and butter heavy cuisine, the new generation of French chefs are morphing New French Cuisine into a vegetable forward, yet somehow classic, lighter cuisine. Alain Ducasse is no exception as he has slowly transformed his empire into this new form of French cooking. This dish was called a Cookpot of Millet with Minestrone Garnish. It was out of this world.
The fish in this dish was perfectly grilled and it was accompanied by a fennel and citrus sauce. Simple yet amazing dish.
The guinea fowl dish served with potatoes and mushrooms was also exceptionally good.
After the main courses we were served an arugula salad. It was, as you can see, the most modern item here. Although the arugula granita was surprisingly good and very refreshing.
The cheese course was very nice. They had a separate board just for the goat cheeses on offer. I ended up only taking a modest selection of 5 cheeses, which were all amazing. The Camembert from Normandy was undoubtedly my favorite. Some cheeses make the trip to the US better than others and Camembert is one of those cheeses that is never any good in the US.
For dessert I choose the apricot soufflé. It was very good, and equally beautiful, although not a highlight of the meal. I much prefer a Grand Mariner soufflé.
Lastly we were offered some small petit fours to finish the meal while we ordered our coffee. The caramelized almonds below were amazing.
All in all this was one of my favorite restaurants of the trip. Alain Ducasse is one of the spearheading influences in the Nouvelle French Cuisine. It is exquisite innovative yet somehow still anchored in reality. The highlighting of local seafood and produce in this restaurant was very well done. The dishes were simple yet perfectly executed. This is my favorite style of restaurant.