Travel Through Plates

When a plate of food is put before me, I photograph it immediately. This blog, decodes my favorite dishes. It's a happy blog, as I predominantly show you pictures of the winners, the ones I love,

My Greatest Plates!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vistamar - Monaco's newest Chef Star!

Benoit Witz is no stranger to Monaco as he was part of the original brigade that opened the Louis XV with Alain Ducasse 1987. He's had the good fortune to begin his career in Lyon with the doyen, apprenticing in Paul Bocuse's kitchen before stints with Lenôtre at Pre Catalan in Paris and then working at several Provençal Ducasse outposts until he was plucked from L'Abbaye de La Celle in Brignolles (where he had gained a Michelin star) to take over from the retiring one star chef - Joël Garault here at the Hermitage Hotel. 

As is my habit I always like to give a new chef or restaurant a couple of months to get into rhythm before I review their offerings and a few days ago I went to the Vistamar to taste some of the magic. 

This restaurant is superbly placed to catch the light and even when the terrace is closed the room inside remains airy and luminous. The tables are set nicely apart to keep a tete a tete rendezvous private and this attracts the business and love-dove client. 

Now to the food......celebrating neo classical brilliance with a remarkable bias that showcases tip-top local ingredients, that are cooked with a modern mood, innovative yet with superb simplicity and classical restraint. 

I started with courgettes three ways, a raw lattice of wafer thin shavings, and then the zucchini warm, stuffed with a mirepoix of squid and aromatics followed by the blossom cradling even more tender fragrant vegetables. It was a plate of beauty that never forgot its purpose; to put this delectable vegetable on a podium! Profoundly well thought out and easy on the eye. See photo 

The pressé of foie gras was a grandiose, served with cherries in all their forms, raw, black pepper pickled, chutney and en gelée. The addition of baby raw almonds added a touch of welcomed texture. Boy do I love fresh almonds! Each cherry morsel was a calculated foil to the silken pâte which made the rustic toast almost obsolete. See photo

Next a homemade pasta was a revelation, nestling local red shrimp from San Remo - (that are simply the sweetest, most succulent morsels in all shrimpdon!) Served in an intense iodine broth of teeny shucked clams, with shards of grilled squid and a scattering of raw spinach. Whilst this was not the prettiest of plates on the day; for me this was my favourite by a long chalk with full points for yumminess the sum of its parts culminating into a triumphant saline celebration. Oh Benoit if you going to keep cooking like this you're going to see a whole lot more of me! 

I'm told that the pigeon with cherries (see picture) was very good but I cannot comment as i did not try it. 

The dessert was a deconstructed strawberry cake which is called a "Fraisiers" in these parts. The pastry straw was an exquisite crumbly flaky affair which celebrates butter and was good enough to be served all alone with just a cup of tea. The sliced strawberries were mounted around a dome of vanilla clotted cream and topped with strawberry sorbet. I wanted to lick my plate but let's face it strawberries and cream 
are a magic pairing.

There is a daily lunch menu for 48 euros which I consider extraordinary value for cooking at this level. 

If chef Witz keeps this up he'll easily be in consideration for Macaron number #2 and I for one would have no problem in agreeing with Bibendum on that. In fact it's only matter of time as this is his destiny. 

Perfect for a business lunch or dinner with very good friends. This is an address to keep on the tip of your tongue.

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