CHEF’S TABLE WITH JAMES CLOSE

Luxe columnist and two Michelin star chef at Raby Hunt, James Close, sees seven stars in two days on a Michelin mission in Monaco
Monaco

Do it now. Hop on a flight to Nice, go out of season, get a great hotel deal then just eat your way through the Michelin stars (with maybe a few hours on a sunbed in a beach club).

A few of the Raby Hunt team did just that recently with some memorable dining experiences in Monte Carlo. Foie gras and champagne featuring heavily.

A highlight was definitely the Chef’s Table at Joel Robuchon. He’s a culinary hero and holds two Michelin stars at his restaurant in the very stylish Hotel Metropole.

We were able to sit and watch the kitchen from our counter-style table and eat some amazing small-plate dishes. The highlights were mini burgers with foie gras, and ravioli with langoustine, truffle and more foie gras.

The dessert trolley was a thing of beauty – with the French classics like floating islands and chocolate tart.

We saw Joel in the restaurant and asked if we could meet him. What was great was that he’d obviously gone away, looked us up, done a bit of research about Raby Hunt and came over really interested to talk about what we do and welcome us with a magnum of champagne!

We stayed at Hotel Hermitage which is elegant and impressive – very Monte Carlo. (Tip: we’d go to the cooler Hotel Metropole next time).

One of the best things about the hotel though is the sea-facing spa – Thermes Marins – where we managed some lounging.

Monte Carlo is obviously all about the bling so we ticked the casino box – there’s free access from Hotel Hermitage – with drinks at the lively Buddha Bar.

Destination Le Mirazur: a visit to the restaurant you may have clocked on Masterchef the Professionals – it is where the finalists on the show headed in the episode after they visited Raby Hunt.

Chef is two Michelin star Mauro Colagreco who has forged a style of his own inspired by his Italian-Argentinian heritage.

It was a bit underwhelming if I am honest but his cuisine is ultra fresh, with lots of herbs, fruit and vegetables showcasing the magnificent ingredients produced by local growers. His signature dish, one to impress is ‘orange in flower’ which is citrus fruit from the Riviera, saffron from Sospel, olive oil and lemons from Menton.

Back in Monaco, we managed to bag a last minute table for lunch at Alain Ducasse at Le Louis XV.

This three Michelin star restaurant is on another level. It excels at the classics with incredible attention to detail on every level. No short cuts – a lemon soufflé made with flavour-packed Menton lemons was unreal. Exemplary execution of the toughest recipes. They do a signature rum baba and I ate a fantastic guinea fowl and foie gras dish.

We were wowed by the cheese trolley – the Ferrari of cheese trolleys in fact – likewise the champagne ‘trolley’ – everything was perfection.

Kitchen sent out extra dishes for us to try and we had some great wine –2014 Montrachet and 2004 Chapelle La Mission Haut Brion. All so memorable.

ON THE RADAR AT RABY >>

We’ll be heading off to Istanbul and Rome on some food fact-finding missions soon. And Moscow?! That’ll be interesting.

In the kitchen we’re all about the produce now and I am addicted to wagyu. We’ve got a new dish on the menu of slow-cooked wagyu sirloin which is finished on the barbecue.

I’ve also long wanted to do tempura like the Japanese do it and I think I’ve cracked it with an aerated batter – so we’ll have an authentic langoustine tempura on the menu.


rabyhuntrestaurant.co.uk

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