A few days ago, Nancy S and I had a lunch so supreme at a hotel in Monte Carlo it easily warranted the headline of this post. The headline is even kinda mild. I’ve had some great restaurant meals with Nancy over the past eleven years, but for sheer flavor, sheer close-your-eyes deliciousness of every bite, nothing topped this lunch at the at Joel Robuchon’s restaurant at the Hotel Metropole.
This outpost of Robuchon, at 69 still the world’s greatest chef, is not on any lists of the world’s best restaurants. And I can understand that. This is not even a flagship of the Supernatural One, who has Michelin three star establishments in Macau, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Las Vegas. The guy has a total of something like 25 Michelin stars, two of them at this restaurant in Monte Carlo where Christopher Cussac is the head chef.
And I get why this Monaco spot is not a “Three Star’, which requires more than simply divine food. Three times plates crashed to the floor of the dining room and kitchen entrance point. And the décor, while attractive, is like a good hotel dining room. We walked in without a reservation.
But, the food, it rendered superlatives useless. We sat at a counter with a close view of the open kitchen where the cooks moved with precision and almost never spoke. (This is in 180 degree contrast from Robuchon's mythical restaurant Jamin in Paris where he first earned acclaim and where local L.A. chefs Sang Yoon and Ludo Lefebvre worked and said they were constantly yelled at by the master's chef de cuisine Benoit Guichard to the point of cruelty)
From a standing start, the meal took off like the 1,200 horsepower Bugatti Veyron Super Sport parked in front of the hotel; a rolling cart of eight breads and rolls and a cylinder of Bordier butter – salted to Robuchon’s specs – the size of 155 mm howitzer shell. I started with what they called a puff pastry roll coated with the butter. I had 11 of them, all slathered, which I was later told was just two short of the world record held by Franz Klammer, the skier.
There was a platter of Iberico ham from Joselito, and some tomato bread that Nancy found full of wonder. There was this soup of cockles, calms and chanterelles in a vermouth shellfish broth that needs to have its own category and roasted lamb, me, some shoulder and leg, Nancy, some rib chops.
The bill was 360 euro with a couple glasses of red Coteaux-d'Aix-en-Provence.
The younger generation may hear about other chefs being the top.. But, I think those chefs, most of them, at least, would agree that Joel Robuchon is the greatest chef in the world.