Eat Your Organic Greens!
The village vibe of Monaco typically means that you can’t go from the Yacht Club to the Hermitage without bumping into someone you know. And as much as being seen is part of the game, there are times when you’d like a tête-à-tête to remain just that. A discreet spot to meet a client over lunch is at Elsa, the world’s first all-organic restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star (2014), located at the Monte Carlo Beach Club and named after gossip columnist and American socialite Elsa Maxwell in the Roaring Twenties.
Here on the patio amongst the pine trees and sounds of crashing waves, chef Paolo Sari serves up scrumptious raw red shrimps from San Remo, crunchy baby fennel and caviar Nacarii or a melt-in- your-mouth lobster tortello, leek fondue and Crustacean bisque. (Lamb, chicken and pork options are also available but no beef as it cannot be locally sourced.) While you digest the Elsa soufflé with Sicilian almonds and organic almond ice cream, the sweeping sea view of Portier Cove (see p. 36) means you can quietly supervise the development from a distance.
The environmental impact of the land extension is tough for Sari to swallow. An ambassador of organic living “to motivate others to preserve our future food resources and our planet,” Sari is unwavering in his “Go Green!” mantra. Born in Traviso, the Italian, who cooked for the star-studded 2018 Monte-Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean on September 26, sources his produce from over a dozen organically certified gardens within a 150-kilometer radius of Monaco, from Grasse to Menton and in Ventimiglia, Italy. He even promises producers a guaranteed market if the quality is good, which, judging by the empty plates unobtrusively cleared from the tables of the lunch crowd, is obviously the case. “Monaco is a small country with the ability to implement change,” says Sari, who continues to campaign for school canteens in the Principality to serve 100% organic meals. (Currently only 15% do so.)
Sari, 50, also oversees La Vigie lounge- restaurant and was a consulting chef for the long over-due revamping of the menu at Brasserie Café de Paris. He wrapped up his fourth edition of Route du Gout, an organic festival held the second week of October and organized by Bio Chef Global Spirit, his association that “wants to convince as many people as possible about organic, local and seasonal food.” You won’t need much convincing after tucking into Elsa’s dedicated Monday to Friday lunch menu—the Farmer’s Market—which includes a starter, main course, dessert plus coffee and delicacies (and free parking with valet service) for $64/€55 per person, not including drinks. Preserving the planet is the new power lunch. ✱