We are thrilled to feature the following article by our dear friend and publisher of the critically-acclaimed magazine, Monte Carlo The Art of Taste.
Twenty Five Years On, the Louis XV reigns supreme
In May 1987 Alain Ducasse unveiled what is considered the finest restaurant around the globe – The Louis XV at the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco. Set in the Casino Square, next to the Opéra Salle Garnier, opposite the Café de Paris, this Belle Époque landmark with its’ wooden revolving doors continues to swirl celebrities from the famous Square into this gracious and legendary hotel.
Entering this gracious Monaco landmark is like entering a beautiful Cathedral. The grandeur, elegance and beauty of the architecture with its’ harmonious proportions is awe inspiring. The fragrance of the room emanating partly from a pyramid of fresh flowers, and soft buzz of multilingual conversations, lull one into a calm excitement of expectation. This setting is rare, unique, and special and you feel honoured to be there.
The Louis XV, which this year celebrates its Silver Jubilee, is the ultimate destination for fine dining and the talent of Ducasse. He is a chef who served his apprenticeship with greats, Michel Guérard, Roger Vergé and Alain Chapel who taught and inspired him to be what he is today.
Today Ducasse is perhaps the most celebrated chef of traditional French cuisine. Ducasse is applauded internationally for being one of the most prolific chefs of our time. His 20 international restaurants, 20 books and cooking schools for public and chefs have carried his gastronomic wisdom to far distant lands.
Ducasse spurred to early success by Prince Rainier
When the Louis XV first opened Prince Rainier III of Monaco and the Monte Carlo SBM challenged him to win a 3 Michelin star restaurant within four years. Ducasse, only 33 years at the time, completed this daunting task a mere 33 months later.
Ducasse speaks of his love of the region. “At 23 years old, I discovered what I call the Mediterranean distinction. This was for me, like a second birth. Unique produce, bursting with sunshine, brought forth from arid land, a sea teaming with rock fish gorged with more flavour than any other, and that olive oil that I impose on tables of the Louis XV, with the same deference that I give to wine. There are no complicated creations: I do not sublimate the produce, they are centre stage.”
Ducasse is also on record saying: “My encounter with Monaco was a magical and important moment in my life. It is here between France and Italy that I have concentrated my Riviera. Today I know that this region, that serenades the sun, has inspired all my cooking. Its strength and honesty are drawn from the earth”.
Ducasse learned at a young age that the flavour of the dish was derived from the quality of the produce. His success is serving these simple yet sensational dishes in the tranquillity of this elegant, luxurious décor.
Local producers praised
Ducasse is fulsome in his praise of local food producers, “Thanks to authentic greengrocers, farmers, breeders, butchers, fishermen and mushroom gatherers, we have the privilege to present the best produce which we treat with all the respect it deserves. For this reason, each dish has its own story and each provider its reason to continue his quest for beauty”.
The setting of the Louis VX adds to the dining experience. The Versailles inspired spacious, double volume dining room sets the scene. Large gold Baroque mirrors and frescos of enormous proportion flank each of the panelled walls. While Baroque in styleis quietly elegant. The pink, green and soft mauve flower arrangement fills the centre of the room providing privacy for the diners. It is completely “other world” in atmosphere.
Central to the impeccable service is the use of trolleys on which large displays can be wheeled around to showcase mouth-watering offerings from every angle.
One little chariot carries an enormous Easter egg of fresh unsalted butter. The waiter uses one spoon to stop the egg from slipping while using the other to carefully sculpt a curl laying it down to rest on its own platter alongside that of the salted type. The second trolley displays breads of varying sizes, colours and shapes. Of note are thin slivers of bread pastry with thinly embedded courgette flowers and leaves.
A third trolley arrives silently with its aromatic display of round to conical chèvre cheeses of varying ripeness, while the last trolley is piled high with silver pots of flavoured ice cream with tiny beads of condensation adorning their sides. This is additionally decorated with a row of nougat and long ribbons of violet marshmallow, which gives the whole display a festive, carnival feel.
Each step of the service is carefully monitored by Dominique Lory, the head of the Louis XV kitchens, Nicolas Cailleaud, head pastry chef, Noël Bajor head sommelier and Michel Lang restaurant manager. Talented and discreet Franck Cerutti, one of Alain Ducasse’s closest and most faithful chefs adds to the success of the Louis XV by conveying his philosophy and dedication to the Niçois and Italian terroir.
Intensity of flavours
The dishes glide in on white-gloved hands, flavours rising to whet appetites. Each captures just the essence, the crispness of the vegetables the delicate flavours from hard work in the kitchen. The Gamberoni de San Remo is so delicate, yet intense. The rockfish jelly as intense and pure as a consommé would no doubt have taken hours to refine and strain to this complexity before allowing it to solidify. The thick bubbles of the caviar are a perfect compliment.
The Loup de Méditerranée with olives, asparagus and herbs is delicate and filled with flavour. The rose grapefruit and Campari is a must – elegant, delicate with beautiful ruby grapefruit flavours. The soufflé haut aux noisettes du Piémont is a beautiful concoction with subtle flavours and a delicate spongy texture.
On the occasion I dined at the Louis XV, I selected the wine tasting menu to taste the definitive guide to the wine and food pairing. We toast the evening with Dom Perignon 2002, its elegant yet complex honeyed flavours adding to our enjoyment. The M.L. Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 2009 and the young bottle of the Leoville-Las Cases 2002 marry well, whilst the Provencal wines are better with the food rather than on their own. The Forteto Pian Dei Sogni 2007 red dessert wine seems to overpower the soufflé with its sweet, powerful syrup flavour.
When I left the restaurant, I was given tiny nut madeleines in a cream triangular box suspended from a bright orange ribbon with XV embroidered upon it. What an elegant memento of my experience.
The Louis XV 25th anniversary is also being celebrated in other Alain Ducasse’s restaurants in the world : New York ,St Petersburg, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Paris and London with a Rivera-inspired dish and the Louis XV signature dessert, the Baba au rhum comme à Monte Carlo. The lunch menu is priced at €140 while the grand Anniversary menu will set diners back €280. It is well worth it.
Le Louis XV
Hôtel de Paris
+377 980 68 864