I dare say the true crown jewels in this beautiful principality lay not in the Prince’s Palace of Monaco but on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Paris. Le Louis XV is a restaurant which reminds one of the regal dining rooms of a European palace.
The flagship restaurant of legendary chef Alain Duccasse with his trademark Provençal cuisine and use of only the finest ingredients. Ducasse famously said “The produce is the only truth. A turbot without a stroke of genius will always rise above having genius without a turbot. A produce, grown with love and respect, has an incomparable flavour. Without it, a chef is nothing.” The wine list is just as much a masterpiece as the cuisine, the restaurant’s wine cellars hold over 400,000 bottles of the world’s finest wines.
One can expect more than just the finest culinary experience, the restaurant has a lavish interior in what is the grandest dining room in Europe with its palatial splendour and Belle Epoque theme. The fresco ceilings and chandelier with over 800 pieces of Murano glass, the stormy sky themed carpet and the ornate gold paint and murals of Louis XV’s wives, baroque moulding, Provence artwork and regal mirrors across the dining room make this venue reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles rather than a restaurant.
Crispy Bread and Champagne
We are taken to our seats and for this marathon dining experience to commence. As an aperitif, we opt for a beautiful glass of their house blanc de blanc champagne to start the evening and the dinner service commences with their trademark crispy bread with vegetables.
This dish has the most perfect aesthetics, it has a beautiful visual presence and an element of the art of the impossibility; thin crisps with an assortment of the most thinly sliced vegetables melded into the crisp like a fossil in bedrock. It is a beautiful start to the evening and the service is perfect with every staff member attending to even the smallest details of evening to ensure a smooth dining experience.
Crispy Fresh Vegetables
We have some fresh vegetables and fruit with a light herb paste. The dish awakens the palate and have wonderful fresh flavours and textures which displays the true art of natural flavours with limited culinary interference.
Grilled Seafood Pieces
The next course is cooked at the table, with fresh pieces of seafood cooked at the table on a mini grill. Light seasoning, fresh produce and the presence of heat makes this dish the essence of simplicity, however the little dance each piece does on the tongue shows it’s a masterstroke.
Bread and Butter
The next course is the bread and butter. There is a beautiful yeasty bread served alongside Malaysian pepper, a swirl of butter and fresh olive oil. The epitome of basic with the quality of the items shining through.
2010 Gauthier Pere et Fils Domaine du Bel Air Bourgueil Clos Nouveau
We opt for a beautiful Cabernet Franc from Loire. The aromas flow with pepper and a medley of black fruits. On the palate its dry with blunted blackberries and cherries which have made way for more earthy, anise, tobacco and herby notes with beautiful fine-grained tannins.
As we sip the wine throughout the night, we have a wonderful view over the whole dining room.
Chilled langoustines, redcurrant from Gisèle Taxil, watercress pesto, coral emulsion
This dish is a gem. The chilled tender langoustines exhibit their natural flavours effortlessly, the redcurrant ice adds to the chill of this dish and asserts a beautiful natural sweetness to the dish while the coral emulsion adds a rich flow to round out the experience.
Fire roasted blue lobster, claw condiment, fennel cooked in blackcurrant bush branch
The succulent tender lobster interwoven with a flow of sweetness and salinity and melds beautifully with the tangy flow of the blackcurrant and herbaceous notes of the bush branch. The claw condiment has a rich allure to it and the dish delivers a unique impression on the palate with a wide array of textures and flavours.
Carrots from our farmers with elderberry wine, smoked goat cheese from Monteiro family, tangy top jus
The carrots were perfect with a softness for pleasure with an appropriate firmness for texture. Crisp sticks and crumbs with a herb base. The sweetness of the elderberry wine is nicely offset by a chalky tartness of the goat’s cheese and the jus was tangy with a herby lightness that melded beautifully with the dish.
Farm veal from Lozère rubbed with ‘pissalat’, seared in a cocotte, charred wild herbs
The veal is tender and flows effortlessly through the dish with its natural juices. The lovely tangy salinity of the pissalat and balanced with the beautiful wild herbs and dances well with the veal. The veal was served with tripe in a separate dish. My wife began to enjoy the tripe until the waiter made the mistake of explaining what tripe was, at which point she stopped eating the dish. I took on the duty of enjoying the rest of her tripe dish. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Fresh and matured cheeses, herbs mesclun, Piedmont hazelnut crackers
Next is the cheese course where a wide array of cheeses are brought out and plated with some accompanying crackers and herbs.
I am not a cheese connoisseur; however, the selection was quite interesting with a surprising variety of hard cheeses which is rare, however we both opt for the softer varieties, except I do go for have a slice of the aged Comte.
The crackers are a lovely pairing as is the herb mesclun.
Rum baba, vanilla and citrus peel, lightly whipped Chantilly
I opt for the signature rum baba, the cake base is delightful and moist served on a golden serving dish and cutlery, next a pot of light Chantilly cream. A selection of fine rums is brought out and you can make an appropriate selection to be poured on the rum baba.
The dish is one of theatrics with the pour of the syrup, the rum (El Dorado, Special Reserve 15-Year-Old Rum) and the scoop of the cream.
Java chocolate from our manufacture in Paris, crispy and creamy, wild pepper, cocoa nib
My wife opts for the chocolate dessert which she says does not disappoint.
Tea and Coffee
Even the tea and coffee have its own theatrics with actual live herbs and plants presented at the table.
The sweet milky richness of the chocolate is contrasted with the sweet sticky tangy jellies. She opts for a light chamomile tea while I am keen to hit the casino afterwards and elect a strong espresso for my nightcap.
On the day of our dinner, Alicia Keys had a concert on Monte Carlo. The Prince was in attendance and the casino square was converted into an outdoor concert venue. We kept leaving our table after dessert to have a glimpse of the concert. The staff noticed this and were extremely accommodating by placing chairs outside for us so we could view the concert. It was like receiving free tickets for the best seats to the best show in town.
When the concert is over, we head back inside to settle the account before heading back to our room. The grandeur of the dining room is on full display even at closing.
The service at Le Louis XV is without comparison. The ratio of staff to diners is unbelievable and there is no detail that is too small or insignificant. Napkins are replaced when even the slightest smudge is noticeable, if you leave for the restroom your chair will be immediately straightened and you will be assisted into your seat upon your return.
When I review restaurants, I do not publish a score just a narrative with only one exception, if a restaurant has received the perfect 10 / 10 score. This was an experience like no other; each course is assembled on the table with an army and theatrically displayed. The key elements of fine produce, culinary flair and presentation are evident in each dish. The dining experience is a sensory pleasure of taste, texture, aromas and aesthetics. There is no need to ponder the decision – Le Louis XV Monte Carlo (10/10).