When I was a child, my parents took me to Monte Carlo on a couple of holidays. Before you think I had some kind of super yacht Suri Cruise style upbringing, it was always day trips in the midst of a three week pilgrimage around France. I think Monte Carlo was probably lost on me as a kid – I was more interested in scoffing ice cream and spying on big boats than champagne and gambling. These days though, I’d happily spend hours watching the stupendously rich showing off their supercars outside the Cafe de Paris and attempt to gatecrash a yacht party or two. It might happen…!
So Monte Carlo is meant to be the domain of the upper echelons, where the residents can look down over the hoi palloi from their cliff side mansions. But I’ve always had a soft spot for the place, and even more so since I went to the Wirral version over the weekend.
Monte Carlo is a lovely little Mediterannean restaurant run and staffed by some of the most fun people I have met in a restaurant in a long time. It has great service and a real sense of enjoyment, which is only matched by some delicious food. The menu is full of French and Italian dishes with a great balance of fish and meat. My family tends towards the pescitarean so it was nice to be somewhere with a good selection of fish and seafood dishes.
We asked for some bread, olives and dips to get started, but the sheer volume of what arrived left us with no room for starters. The tapenade might have been slightly heavy on the capers for my tastes, but the olives were punchy and the balsamic was a sweet, vinegar treacle. We were also given some amuse bouche of parmesan and spinach pastries which were fantastically moreish.
For all the choice on the menu, somehow between the five of us we ended up with one steak, two monkfish and two seabream (terrible for a review but very satisfying on the night!). The steak was a sirloin bourgignon, with mushrooms, shallots and a red wine sauce. The meat was chargrilled, medium rare and just lovely. Monkfish came in a Provencale sauce of tomatoes, garlic, herbs and chilli and was balanced well with the meaty fish. Not that I’m biased, but I thought my choice, the seabream, was the shining star. 1. it was perfectly cooked with a light olive oil and lemon dressing and 2. they did a showpiece of taking it off the bone. Yes, a showpiece. Amazing. It really did set the tone for a lighthearted evening, which was rounded off wish a few shared desserts (lime cheesecake, profiteroles and icecream – all very good) and more than a few limoncello! I also found myself being picked up by one of the lovely gentlemen looking after us that evening, which was certainly the first time in a long time!
Overall, it was a great evening. Some of the food could have been tightened up a little (that tapenade and some slightly overdone vegetables) but they do excellent zuccini fritters and really show you a good time. So much so, we’ve relocated Christmas dinner with 26 our friends to there. I couldn’t endorse it more.