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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Review - BeefBar, Monaco 17 October 2008

42, quai Jean-Charles Rey
98000 Monte-Carlo, Principauté de Monaco
Tel. +377 97 77 09 29

Monaco. The glittering Principality with petrol in its veins, and a place where a simple steak frites can be elevated to fine dining.

BeefBar is situated overlooking the harbour in the Fontveille quarter, so you enjoy your meal while gazing covetously at the superyachts moored there. There's no dress code (which seems quite rare for the better restaurants in the area), however we were advised by the concierge at our hotel that I would be 'more comfortable' wearing a shirt. Thankfully, a tie wasn't necessary!

The menu is simple - a few starters, some cold meat dishes, and a range of cuts of beef, arranged on the menu not by cut, but by nationality, with a description of the key points of each nations' offering.

I started with pan-fried foie gras served topped with ground nuts and figs, which was absolutely sublime - however, I actually preferred Gerry's starter of chunks of seared tuna, marinated in garlic, shallots, wine vinegar and ginger, served with individual pots of wasabi cream and ground pistachio. It was almost, but not quite, a ceviche, and utterly fantastic.

Both of us chose sirloin steaks for our main course - Gerry opting for an Argentinian steak, which was as good as Argentine beef always is - and I went for a Kansas beef, from a slightly older animal (27 months as opposed to 18). Both were superb - the differences in flavour were clear, with the Kansas beef more intense and with a fuller, herbier flavour.

The steaks were served with a small pot of creamed potato, which I think will become my accompaniment of choice for beef in future. However, as no mention was made of this accompaniment on the menu, we also ordered some side dishes, and this was unfortunately where we were a little disappointed.

The frites were excellent, and the dish of steamed legumes also well cooked and presented - however the kitchen forgot about our leek gratin, and when it did come out was cold and the parmesan topping unmelted. The waiter handled our complaint well, and as one would expect we weren't charged for the offending dish.

The whole meal was washed down with a bottle of decent French red, surprisingly reasonable given the cost of the rest of the meal!

We didn't bother with desserts, as the portions of the previous courses were more than adequate (especially the 400g steaks). Though the portion of creamed potato was a touch small for two.

Total cost for the two courses, including wine and service, was a not-inconsiderable 195 Euros. However, given that this was in Monaco, which is somewhere we're unlikely to visit very often, it was worthwhile even at that cost.

(This review is also published on Dungeekin's Eatings and on Qype.)

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