A Tribute to Paris in Monaco
© 2015 by Restaurant Bouchon - Monaco
Monaco is not France — let's get that out of the way. Sure, you'll hear French spoken there, and the dot on the map may look like it's in France, but Monaco is its own country — principality, to be exact. You can be in Italy immediately after leaving one of France's borders, so chefs here get to play with a wealth of culinary traditions and ingredients. But when it comes to inspiration, there's no place like Paris, and a snug little eatery in the heart of Monaco is perfectly channeling the magic and romance of a Parisian bistro.
Part the heavy red velvet curtain at the entry to Restaurant Bouchon, and step into a real-life version of your dreams of Paris – especially if those dreams take place in the 1930s. Down to the (faux) nicotine-stained ceilings, leather banquette seating, zinc bar, tile floor, and the menus scrawled on blackboards on the wall, it could well be a stage set for a dinner scene in Paris.
The menu reads like a primer on classic French fare. If you come to France (and Monaco) with a mental checklist of all the quintessential favorites you must have (don't we all?) you can check them off one by one here — provided you come hungry enough. Stars include escargot (naturally), soupe a l'oignon (that rich, blistered cheese-topped decadence we call French onion soup), a lush beef tartare, and for those who prefer their meat cooked, a gorgeous steak served with decadent puréed potatoes studded with black truffle shavings. A special menu section showcases their "bistronomique" burgers — think perfectly seared Kobe beef or truffle toppings. And the bowl of frites will simply vanish — don't even think you're going to be able to share.
You know you have to do it: it's crème brûlée for dessert, just for the pleasure of shattering the burnished golden crust and quickly scooping a bite of pale gold, creamy filling. Linger a while while sipping an espresso, and imagine yourself in the home of all that is beautiful and sumptuous in this world.