When word got out that Yannick Alleno was bringing his Parisian dining concept, Pavyllon, to Monte Carlo, we were eager to see whether the gourmet eatery could live up to expectations.
The talented chef – who has amassed 12 Michelin stars across his global network of restaurants – wasted no time in impressing inspectors once again. Since welcoming his first diners to Monte Carlo this spring, Alleno has already scooped a coveted star for his new outpost, and, if our experience is anything to go by, could well be in with a chance of securing a second before the year is out.
Alleno chose the charming Hôtel Hermitage as the setting for his latest venture. Located on a shady garden square in the heart of the district, it’s hard to imagine you are anywhere but Monte Carlo at this historic belle epoque palace. We were whisked straight past the open kitchen to the sprawling terrace; a suntrap overlooking the glittering Mediterranean Sea.
“The choice of Monaco for Pavyllon was not made randomly,” explains Alleno. “The Principality has always been a forerunner when it comes to gastronomy. I am very pleased to offer Monaco residents a place that takes a fresh look at the style of the gourmet restaurant, with azure-tinted cuisine and an atmosphere that promises relaxation.”
Indeed, the eatery is decidedly breezy and laid-back; you won’t find any of the stiff formality that typically comes with fine dining here. Like its Parisian sister property, Pavyllon Monte Carlo serves Alleno’s signature modern cuisine – creative, technically skilled plates of food that let the French Riviera’s bounty of vibrant seasonal vegetables and seafood take center stage.
Hailing from Puteaux just outside Paris, Alleno entered his first professional kitchen at the age of 15. The ambitious young chef cut his teeth at some of the city’s most prestigious eateries, kicking off his illustrious career at Le Royal Monceau where he worked closely with Gabriel Biscay.
But it was at Drouant – a historic Parisian restaurant in the center of the city – that he really honed his skills under the tutelage of Louis Grondard. It wasn’t long before he secured his first head chef position at Scribe, rapidly gaining two Michelin stars for the eatery.
In 2003, Alleno took over Le Meurice, winning three Michelin stars in just four short years. With this proven track record of impressing the inspectors, he was trusted to set up his eponymous restaurant, Alleno Paris, at the Pavillon Ledoyen where he rapidly scooped the coveted three-star accolade within seven months of opening.
Today, Alleno has collected 12 Michelin stars across his global portfolio of restaurants, including the three-starred Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc. The talented chef is known for his bold, complex sauces which are made using his signature extraction technique.
If you’re lucky enough to have dined at Pavyllon in Paris, rest assured you’ll find a similar menu at the Monte Carlo outpost, albeit with more of a focus on seasonal produce and fresh seafood.
We kicked things off with the delicate Balik salmon served with crispy slivers of potato and drizzled with a vibrant green sauce, before diving into the succulent whole cooked sole.
Other standout dishes include the almost-too-pretty-to-eat Zucchini flower stuffed with seabass and dotted with a sweet almond sauce; light pillows of vegetable ravioli sitting in a rich extraction broth; and the wonderfully decadent badaboum style egg served with a generous mound of caviar and plenty of crispy bread for mopping up the sauce.
As for pudding, Alleno has created an array of low-sugar desserts that swap refined sugar for birch sap. You can’t go wrong with the whipped ice cream sprinkled with candied citrus, buttery Arlette biscuits and salted caramel or the cooked-to-order fondant chocolate pastry tart.
The restaurant itself feels tranquil and calm. Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal sweeping vistas of the Mediterranean Sea and chefs in tall white hats work away in the open kitchen, putting finishing touches to the immaculate plates of food on the counter.
Chahan Minassian was brought in for the elegant interiors, creating a light-filled dining room in shades of turquoise and azure mirroring the ocean outside. The best place to soak up the views, however, is the sunny terrace. As you would expect, these tables get snapped up quickly so be sure to call ahead to secure your spot.