Monte Carlo: Argentin Grill
L’Argentin Grill at the Fairmont Hotel, Monte Carlo
‘Would you like to see the Mustard Menu,’ the waiter asked. Now I’ve dined in some seriously good places but had never before been offered a Mustard Menu.
‘We have twelve mustards to choose from,’ the waiter said, ‘and they are all made by the famous Maille mustard makers in Dijon. You can only get them either at the shop in Dijon, or here.’
L’Argentin Grill, as the name suggests, specialises in steaks, although being based in the luxury Fairmont Hotel in Monte Carlo, a place that oozes money, it is much, much more than that. We’d already enjoyed a glass of champagne in the Fairmont’s 7th Floor l’Horizon Champagne Bar, with its 360-degree views of Monte Carlo and the Mediterranean. If there’s anything better than sipping pink champagne anywhere on the Cote d’Azur as the sun goes down then take me there now. We chose the Mediterranean side, though we could have sunk into a comfy chair elsewhere and sipped our bubbly to views of the Casino, the Opera House, and over to the Prince’s Palace.
L’Horizon has a wide range of champagnes by the glass, and by chance we arrived during the Happy Hour. Yes, even luxury Riviera hotels have BOGOFs these days. They serve sushi too, and L’Horizon also has its own restaurant, with seating indoor and out. We had a date, though, in the Fairmont’s more formal fine dining restaurant, L’Argentin.
At L’Argentin we were the first to arrive, and were led to our table which gave us wonderful views through the floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows of yachts sailing in and out of the harbour at Monte Carlo. The décor was cool and classical, with subdued brown and whites predominant, but the tables had their splash of colour by way of large glass plates, works of art in themselves. There was also plentyof space around each table, so no near neighbours to intrude on a romantic dinner.
The rainbow plates were soon whisked away and the amuses bouches arrived, each of us getting a plate with two smaller plates side by side on it. One had a perfect piece of sea bream with an ornate curl of cucumber on top, the other thin pieces of smoked salmon served with a rich creamy sauce with chives and lemon. The salmon comes from Finland and is smoked in-house, very lightly to give it a really subtle flavour. It’s also sliced right there by the table.
The starter was a paté of duck foie gras and a fig marinade, and as we’d put ourselves in the hands of the sommelier (who used to be President Tito’s sommelier), he recommended a glass of vintage Sancerre. It had a lovely aromatic and flowery nose, which went perfectly with the fig and contrasted the rich foie gras taste.
Then to the main course, the star turn – the roast rib of beef with a salt and pepper crust that is also carved at the table. The other specialty is an Argentine beef that is served either Tampiquena-style (with a cheese and green chilli sauce) or with their own blend of spices. We opted for the plainer version, and now just had to choose from the mustards. Parmesan and basil? Fig and coriander? Cognac? In the end we had three different ones each, and wonderful they all were.
Despite the steak being the size of a dinner plate we amazingly still had room for their hot Grand Marnier soufflé served with a bitter orange sherbet, and topped with a lemon ice cream that the waiters add at the table.
The service couldn’t be faulted, professional throughout, with that dash of flair that many of the French gourmet restaurants do so well – dinner with a touch of drama. And a dining experience to die for.
Avenue des Spélugues 12, Monte Carlo, Monaco
Phone: (+377) 93 50 65 00
Fairmont Monte Carlo Website