MONACO, MONTE CARLO, June 22, 2018: Louis XV Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo in Monaco is the three star Michelin restaurant that started the world wide acclaim that has led Alain Ducasse to international status at the top of the culinary universe.
Holding three Michelin stars for the last 28 years, this pinnacle of Haute Cuisine is a fine dining experience that must be experienced to be believed.
With an extraordinary staff under the talents of 3 Michelin star master Chef Dominique Lory and restaurant Director Michel Lang, Louis XV Alain Ducasse is the finest expression of the meaning of true Haute Cuisine.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse and Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo
Hotel de Paris sits at the epicenter of Monaco, just across from the Grand Casino. Currently undergoing extensive renovations to its main entrance and original dining room, the restaurant is located in the circular tower on the south end of the building.
In 1987 Alain Ducasse was a well known Chef who was chosen by Prince Rainer personally to establish an internationally acclaimed restaurant in Monte-Carlo befitting the status of the principality.
Given unlimited resources, his mandate was to attain 3 Michelin stars within 4 years. 33 months later, ahead of schedule, Alain Ducasse in Monaco was granted his 3rd Michelin star. He has not looked back since.
With three starred Michelin restaurants now in Paris at the Plaza Anthenee and in London at The Dorchester, and major restaurants under the Ducasse banner around the world, this is where it all began.
The Hotel de Paris is a distinguished member of Leading Hotels of the World. An impeccable 5 star luxury hotel, it has been the premier destination for international travelers and celebrities in Monaco for generations.
Louis XV Alain Ducassse – The Restaurant
Louis XV Alain Ducasse occupies a commanding spot just off the entrance on the ground floor. The interior of the restaurant gives way to a gorgeously landscaped terrace overlooking the yacht harbor and the royal palace. In the summer months dinner can be served on the terrace.
The interior of the restaurant is lavish and gorgeously decorated. 20 tables fill 3 chambers in a round room following the circular architecture of the building. A stunning wine room is set in an alcove just off the dining room, with special seating for a party of 4.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse – The Banquets
4 banquets lie just off the entrance, with 4 banquets in the middle, and 12 tables in the third chamber of the restaurant. The walls and 15 foot ceilings of this stunning room are filled with polished wood paneling.
The banquets are made of creamy gold leather curving around a circular table with white linen. Mirrored backing sit just above each banquet.
It is like luxuriating on a couch in the most comfortable Rolls Royce ever. Matching leather chairs complete a table for four. The stylings are impeccable.
The mirrors give unusual depth to the room and allow views of much of the restaurant. Between each segment of the restaurant are waiters stations where the service staff can make final preparations for each presentation.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse at Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo – The Staff
Restaurant Director Michel Lang greets each guest and shows them to their table. A strikingly handsome man with the movie star good looks of an Yves Montand, he is a commanding presence who has been here at Louis XV Alain Ducasse for 27 years.
Just 53 years old, but looking much younger, he is graceful and distinguished with a quick laugh and a serene manner. He guides the ship of state throughout the meal, overseeing every detail of service.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse – The Kitchen
Touring the kitchen and meeting Chef Dominique Lory is an adventure in itself. Chef Lory has been in charge of the kitchen for 7 years, where each station is dedicated to a different aspect of the meal.
One section is dedicated to cold food, another is where fish is prepared, and still another is where meats are cooked. A separate station is where Pastry Chef Sandro Micheli, formally with Daniel in New York for 10 years, creates his masterworks.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse at Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo – The Meal Begins
Matre’d Giovanni Pitton is young and talented, working with Michel Lang to oversee each dining experience. Here just three years, he has extensive experience at major restaurants across Europe. Seated at a lovely banquet in the middle of the 2nd section of the restaurant, the adventure begins as the restaurant fills with patrons.
The clientele is extremely upscale, distinguished and sophisticated. They are dressed to impress, the men in fine suits, many wearing ties, and the ladies in their finest designer clothes.
The aura of immeasurable expectations hang heavy in the air. The sense of excitement is a palpable presence. Elegance reigns supreme as lunch begins.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse at Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo – The Sommelier
Sommelier Noel Bajor is a stately man with a dignified presence, a beaming personality, and a hearty laugh. He has been here with Alain Ducasse for 22 years.
He begins the proceedings with a glass of Domaine Fleure pink champagne, made of 100 per cent pinot noir. Ruby red with a dry delicate balance, it sets the tone of a remarkable lunch in incredible surroundings.
It accompanies a flurry of amuse bouche, including vegetables rolls with a black olive dipping sauce, and a regional favorite of barbichon, fried raviolis with swiss chard and Parmesan cheese.
Butter from Normandy is scraped off a large mound and presented for the table, as well as pepper from Malaysia , ground tableside with stones, and olive oil from Provence.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse – First Courses
Assistant Manager Sebastian Rebando presents the first dishes as the body of the meal commences. A young man in his 30’s, he has been with Louis XV Alain Ducasse for 12 years, rising from a server to being Michel Lang’s right hand man.
Gamberone de San Remo over a rockfish gelee and topped with caviar is a wonderful opening course. The shrimps are wonderfully fresh, practically crudité, barely cooked. The gelee is chilled, and the caviar presents a salty counterpoint to the fresh taste of the gamberone.
Vegetables in a black truffle sauce are the opening vegetarian entrée, a signature dish from Alain Ducasse. Wonderfully flavorful, delicately accented by the truffle and sauce, it is a delight for the palette with its fresh crunchy taste.
Sommellier Bajor accompanies the opening courses with a Domaine des Planes 2017 Cotes de Provence blanc de blanc white wine. Made of the Rolle grape, it is fruity and light, with a delicate balance and crisp aftertaste.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse – Artisanal pasta, Asperge, and Sea Bass
Artisanal pasta de Toscane with a minestrone broth is fabulous, served in a crystal bowl with a three inch lip. Each dish is served in its own specialized serving platter, detailing the specificity that goes into a three star Michelin dining experience.
The pasta is prepared like a risotto, with very little water. The flavoring is hearty, full bodied, with hints of tomato and a rich sauce.
Two pieces of large spring asparagus in a lemon sauce is the vegetarian second course. The asparagus is brilliantly fresh, lightly cooked, powerfully flavorful.
Sea bass and fennel served both hot and cold is extraordinary. The cold sea bass in a cream of fennel is refreshing and light, while the warm sea bass in a fennel sauce is firm and meaty in a delightful broth.
A vegetable medley on a base of crumbled bread recooked like risotto is a wonderful taste treat. The bread has a crunchy quality , like nuggets of lentil, under a sumptuous combination of fresh vegetables from Provence.
These courses are accompanied by an M. Bouzereau 2013 Les Tessons Mersault from Cote de Beaune.
Made from the Chardonnay grape, it is dry and medium bodied, with elegant touches of fruit and a hearty minerality typical of the region.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse at Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo – The Main Courses
Raviolis and morels with avocado is the finale of the vegetarian entrees are a tour de force, with beautiful texture and a complex flavor profile. Perfectly cooked, with a rich broth, they melt in the mouth like a bright spring day in the sunshine.
Ris de veau et asperege, or sweetbreads with asparagus, are a thundering climax to an extraordinary meal. The sweetbreads are crisp on the outside, exquisitely textured, while the inside is perfectly cooked, juicy, and tender.
The final dishes are served with a 2004 Chateau Siran Margaux, a thunderously full bodied cabernet blend from Bordeaux. Dark ruby textures and with a sumptuous finish beautifully complement both the sweetbreads and the raviolis.
A selection of cow, sheep, and goat cheeses from a carte with dozens of choices is a classic fromage course, and never more so than here at Louis XV Alain Ducasse.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse – Finger bowls and dessert
Before dessert flower filled finger bowls of water in silver chalices cleanses the hands and exemplifies the level of service inherent at Louis XV Alain Ducasse.
Dessert service arrives with gold plated cutlery. Lemon souffle with a basil sorbet is perfection, the soufflé rich and light, like a creamy mouse of lemon.
Mango slices curled into a succession of tiny balls on a passion fruit cheesecake with chopped passion fruit under a coconut sorbet is a phenomenal finale.
The passion fruit explodes with taste. The mango is both fruity and tart, while the coconut sorbet is a soft counterstroke of subtle taste and refreshing flavor.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse – the Denouement
The pace of the entire afternoon is sublime, not rushed, an elegant waltz thru a parade of trail blazing Haute Cuisine. It is cooking for giants.
From amuse bouche, thru 4 courses of classic and vegetarian courses, to wine pairings and dessert, execution is flawlessly seamless. This is performance art, uniquely existent, where avante garde cuisine penetrates the senses with exquisite form and intention and becomes the standard of excellence.
The men each wear suits by designer Narine Halna du Fretay, as distinctively expressive as Beatle jackets in visual impact, as subtly elegant as a collection by Tom Ford. Cloth comes from notable Italian manufacturer Loro Piana
The staff is absolute perfection, the entire afternoon a ballet of specificity. It is an overall triumph of elegance, an orchestration of culinary aspiration to achieve the highest standards of originality and fine dining.
Louis XV Alain Ducasse – the view from the top of the culinary world
The remarkable thing is that this venue is their temporary home, just opened last September. The original room of Louis XV Alain Ducasses is undergoing extensive renovation, like the entrance and lobby of the hotel
At the end of this year the original venue for Louis XV Alain Ducasse at Hotel de Paris will reopen. This exquisite room, amazing as it is, will become the hotels third restaurant, its brasserie and breakfast room.
At the top of Hotel de Paris is their second restaurant, with panoramic views looking down across all of Monaco, from the Grand Casino, to the royal palace, and vertical splendor of Monte-Carlo.
All of this gives even more reason to return to Hotel de Paris in a year or so, where Alain Ducasse made his mark, where he invented the standards others aspire to. Not that any excuse is needed. For 28 years three Michelin stars have been excuse enough.
Alain Ducasse sets that culinary standard wherever his restaurants are, from the Eiffel Tower to the Hotel Meurice in Paris, from the Dorchester in London to the heart of Monaco. And it all began here, 31 years ago, at Hotel de Paris.
Air France flies direct to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from there to the rest of France and all of Europe from Washington, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of American cities.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal