Located in the narrow streets of the Rocher in the shadow of the prince’s palace, La Montgolfière may be one of the world’s top restaurants, but it’s also a place filled with the atmosphere and charm of the authentic Monaco. A visit to its shady streetside tables provides a wonderful antidote to the ritz and glitz of Monte Carlo.
And that’s no surprise, since owner and head chef Henri Geraci was born in Monaco and trained at the Ecole Hotelière and at the Paul Valery school in Menton. After stints at prizewinning establishments in Nice and Paris, he became chef de cuisine at the Castelroc in Monaco, where he spent the 90s and early 2000s perfecting his art. Five years at La Sarriette, and he was ready to open his own restaurant.
La Montgolfière (the theme is all balloons) started life in 2011, specializing in classic cuisine à l’Escoffier, but also adding Japanese flavours to he more tradtional French fare. Recommendations include Black Cod ‘Gindara no saikyo yaki’ – a traditional dish from Kyoto in which the fish is marinated overnight in miso. This kind of fusion, done well, is the mark of a real master chef. But Geraci is equally at home turning out classics such as Tournedos of beef in a Stroganoff sauce served with Jerusalem artichoke parmentier.
With the fish, we recommend a crisp Sancerre – the Henri Bourgeois Cuvée d’Antan is a good match. Or, if you prefer something slightly sweeter (and more local) the Château Rasque Blanc de Blancs.
Ultimately what makes La Montgolfière a stand-out in today’s busy world is its unfussy approach to producing excellent cooking. More than anything that is down to the fact that as well as being a local, La Montgolfière is also a family-run enterprise, with Henri’s wife Fabienne the face of front-of-house for all those diners lucky enough to book a table.
Lunches (12 noon) and dinner (7.30pm) all week except Wednesday and Sunday. Prices – starters from €20, main courses a la carte: €28 to €43 per dish; set three- or four-course dinner €49 to €56 without wine
16 Rue Basse
Telephone: +377 97 98 61 59