Can I let you in on a secret? Les Perles de Monte-Carlo is something of a hidden gem amongst Monaco restaurants. Ask the locals and many don’t know of its existence. That’s because it wasn’t originally a restaurant but Monaco’s only oyster farm, the famous “Perles de Monte-Carlo”. They opened the restaurant as a sideline to make the most of the incredible location and haven’t looked back since.
The owners, Brice and Frédéric, are charming marine biologists, originally from Brittany in France. They have used their technical skills and the particular quality of the water to produce exceptional sea bream, oysters and sea bass. They sell their sea food to the very best hotels and restaurants in Monaco and France and invited us for a taste of it.
As their work takes place inside the building, seating is almost exclusively outside. Whilst this might not work too well somewhere like London, in Monte-Carlo it’s sunny virtually the whole year round. You’ll dine right next to the rocks, and if you start whistling “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”, it’s perfectly understandable ;-). On top of the hill or Rock, as it’s known, you can see the Cathedral where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were married, just one of the many visitor attractions in the area.
Believe it or not, we ate here in December. Here’s Mr Luxe soaking up the sun, and about to sample some of that delicious rosé wine.
At Les Perles de Monte-Carlo, the menu is quite simple and everyone has the same tasty starters. As the owners have travelled extensively and spent time living in the Far East, it’s a great selection of mezze including hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh salad and baba ganoush dip with aubergine, onions and tomatoes.
Next we feasted on giant prawns, with a fantastic texture and flavour. They looked very appetizing, nestled on their bed of ice.
However the price for best looking seafood must surely go to this rock lobster, ordered by a fellow diner. It sent everyone present into a frenzy of photo snapping 😉
Our main course was a succulent sea bass with a very distinctive taste. They’re fed sardines here, giving them a really unique flavour.
The accompanying purple potatoes are packed with antioxidants. Some experts believe that they can help beat cancer as they contain a starch that boosts the immune system of the gut. In tests they helped to halt the growth of bowel cancer. At any rate, they tasted great.
For dessert, we enjoyed homemade salted caramel ice cream and raspberry sorbet. It was a light but satisfying end to a wonderful meal.
Whilst we savoured our desserts, we watched this dog cavorting around on the rocks. He was having as good a time as we were.
After our meal, Brice kindly showed us around his workplace…We loved the fact that his son also works there, it’s a real family affair.
There’s a cheerful pirate theme going on inside…
and a private dining room that can be hired out for events. The windows have unspoilt views over the bay.
The oysters are hatched here, then taken to Brittany to mature and finally returned to Monte-Carlo where they are affined. One interesting aspect of the aquaculture is that there are tubes bringing water directly from the Mediterranean. Therefore, if something were to go wrong with the fish here, it would be an advanced warning call that a disaster has happened in the Ocean.
For now, all the fish are thriving, like this beauty!
I can’t recommend Les Perles de Monte-Carlo highly enough and I promise that you won’t be disappointed if you visit. Its a very casual place and they don’t have a website or email, so you’ll need to book by phone but it’s worth the effort. I’m already plotting my return to Les Perles and to Monaco. Don’t forget to climb up the stairs next to the restaurant, where you’ll find a deck beloved of local fishermen. The views towards the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco are fantastic.
Have you ever visited Monte-Carlo? Can you recommend any other hidden gems?
Les Perles de Monte-Carlo, Quai Jean-Charles Rey, 98000 Monaco
Book by phone: +377 97 77 84 31