Honeymoon - Monaco and Nice restaurant advice
My soon-to-be wife and I will be heading to France for my honeymoon for two weeks right after Labor day (first two weeks of September). We're spending our first two nights in Monte-Carlo (staying at the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel) and the next two nights in Nice (staying at the Hotel Suisse near the old town in Nice).
I'd like to get some suggestions for restaurants in these two cities. Even though it's our honeymoon and I don't mind spending a decent amount on food, we are trying to budget for a 12-day trip so we're going to limit ourselves to a few nice lunches throughout the trip (hopefully at 2-3 star Michelin restaurants for around 70 Euros/person), and hopefully fill up the rest of our meals with cheap, inexpensive food.
So far I've made a lunch reservation at the Joel Robuchon restaurant in Monte-Carlo, but I'm eager to hear what other places you'd recommend for these two cities. Any recommendations for small cafes/bistros/places to get good bread and foie gras would be nice as well.
We are open to most cuisines, but we particularly like modern French (think Jean-Georges in NY), good Italian, street food, and seafood. We'll be there on weekdays, and it should be after the August break, so hopefully most places will be open.
I'm a fan of Jouni especially at lunch when the prices are quite so sky-high. The food and service are top notch and the setting is spectacular. If you want regional fare I'd suggest La Merenda which is much touted in the press. It's tiny, has no phone, doesn't take credit cards and is closed on the weekends. Acchiardo is another spot serving local cuisine and is run by a friendly family. Also closed on weekends.
Bistro d'Antoine is a good spot for either lunch or dinner. The food is very good and the surroundings are pleasant. La Tire Bouchon is a good bet for dinner. They are open Sunday and Monday when many restaurants are closed. The food is good and a good deal for the price. For very filling, vegetarian fare, La Zucca Magica is a unique find in this area. It was recently featured in the NY Times.
For the grander restaurants like La Petite Maison, Jouni, the Michelin-starred restaurants in Menton and Eze, it is always worth booking - you are assured of a table and you should get a better one than if you just walked in off the street. It shows a certain seriousness towards the restaurant and your meal. For La Merenda, you need to walk by and book, since there is no telephone and it las limited seating.
At dinner, it might be worth booking places like Tire Bouchon and the Bistro d'Antoine, again more for politesse than necessity.
Places like La Pizza, Les Relais des Chauffeurs, Le Safari and Acchiardo are more rough and ready - most of their clientele are walk-ins. But if you are going for lunch be sure to get there by 12:30 if you want to be assured of a seat. That's when places like these really get buzzy.
In Nice itself, avoid most of the restaurants on the Cours Saleya - tourist traps, unhappily. An exception is the Safari, which is also a tourist trap - but at least one with a bit of local class, celebrity allure, and decent food. Go for the regional dishes - rabbit, the petits nicoises (stuffed vegetables), the blete tart, daube with ravioli. For pizza, go to La Pizza (the original), Le Quebec or La Taverna de Massena (all the same owner, who was honoured by Chirac for services to the nation!) in the pedestrinized Rue Massena . These are the sine qua non of Nicoise pizza. A favouite haunt of policemen, local councilmen, hungry widows and just saavy Nicoise is Le Relais de Chauffeurs, two streets directly up behind the Negresco. We fondly imagine it is where the drivers to the famous ate, while their money-and-reputation-bound employers had to make do with Le Chanticleer. Large choice of main courses, all around 12-13 euros.
When your wallet is feeling too heavy, try La Petite Maison on Rue de France, famous for its foie gras-stuffed chicken (55 euros - split it between two; order a first course each or split the risotto); also good reports of Jouni -"Atelier du Gout", as much for the setting (in an Art Deco villa on Blvd Franck Pilatte overlooking the Med) as much for the food. Its a one-star Michelin restaurant on the first floor and a less expensive bistro on the ground.
When you are in Monte Carlo, you might try escaping to Eze for lunch - there are two excellent restaurants there (Chateau de la Chevre d'Or ** and Chateau Eza*), both in the delightful setting of a medieval hill town on the edge of the Med).
In the other direction from MC is Menton. Just outside this, also on a perch overlooking the sea, is the Mirazur* - go for lunch to appreciate the view. These three all qualify for the "heavy wallet" limit.
Enjoy the anticipation!!
kewlly - not sure about the price at lunch, but ducasse's louis xv was, on my visit, every bit as good as i expected it to be.
despite my being a brit, the staff were wonderful. i was on my own but they allowed me the degustation when it was supposed to be for two and even took me into the kitchen during the very height of the service.
my main tip to keep costs down, should you go, is order regional french wines as opposed to the classic, usual suspects. i managed to get a half white AND bottle of red in for under €100. i know that's excessive for a single person, but hey, i love my wine. the main point is you can drink very well and economically here, which given the restaurants status, reputation and environment may surprise many.
i stumbled into the this and got lucky, having taken the regional route because monte carlo is so close to a lot of the great south western regions and it seemed to make sense. it was only after ordering and killing time by really scrutinizing the wine list that i came to realise what a narrow escape i'd had!
finally, if the weather's nice request a table on their terrace looking over the square (although the interior is non too shabby either - check out the 360 on the ducasse website).