Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac
We take you inside the newest fine dining restaurant in Monte-Carlo for a truly special dining experience.
In a world where anything can be purchased, experiences are what leave a lasting mark and Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac offers diners more than a meal, it provides an experience to remember. Under construction since 2021, the long-awaited opening of the new restaurant in the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo offers an exceptional menu of fine Mediterranean-inspired dishes, inventive seafood creations and a cellar with over 1200 wines and 180 Champagnes.
Bon Vivant Mag tested Monaco’s newest bonne adresse and our experience lasted nearly five hours, every minute of which was spent in such enjoyment that we had no idea that more than two hours had gone by.
With the Hotel Metropole, your experience begins from the moment you cross the small threshold into the long driveway, the imposing Belle Époque palace accentuated by warm lighting on beautiful statues, a bubbling fountain, and 6-figure supercars that adorn the stone-paved cul-de-sac, like accessories to an outfit.
Through the revolving doors, into the stately lobby, the feeling of dining in a palace continues, accented by the extravagant floral centrepiece designed by Perrine Guyonnet, the hotel’s Artistic Director. To the right, past the famed lobby bar, awaits a bright and airy new restaurant, as the room now opens directly onto the large terrace, facing lush green trees.
Interior Architect, Jacques Garcia, worked with Chef Cussac to create a completely open space, with views both outside and directly onto the open kitchen, allowing guests a view of a usually well-hidden process. The dining room's contemporary design with soft ivory and muted goldenseal colours welcomes guests with an elegant and inviting feel.
Honouring the past
“Les Ambassadeurs” was the name of the original restaurant that opened in the hotel in the 1920s. Named for the diplomats and aristocracy from all over the world who would meet in the restaurant, it quickly became a success with the Monegasque and international clientele. This legacy was important to recall for all those involved in the project. An expert on period buildings and the lavish interiors of the Belle Époque, Jacques Garcia has decorated numerous luxury hotels and restaurants throughout Paris, making him the perfect choice to create a space that marries the restaurant’s illustrious past with an inviting contemporary setting.
Beyond the history and the interior design, the restaurant’s most valuable player is none other than the chef - whose culinary pedigree is unparalleled - a warm and humble man who values his team as much as his Michelin stars.
Chef Christophe Cussac
With a culinary career of over 40 years, Christophe Cussac has been at the head of the Metropole’s kitchen since 2004 when the world-famous and much-loved Chef Joël Robuchon called him to run his signature restaurant at the hotel. Cussac had been Robuchon’s protégé for years, acting as his mentor and "spiritual father”. With no one better to teach French Cuisine, Cussac’s training led him to the burners of Hotel Nikko**, Jamin***, Abbaye Saint-Michel**. Les Frères Troisgros***, and La Réserve de Beaulieu** before his role as Executive Chef at the Hotel Metropole.
After 20 years with the Metropole, always working diligently under the signature of the world’s most-starred chef, the owners felt it was time to give Chef Cussac his well-deserved signature to their new restaurant.
The Michelin Guide is thick with multi-starred restaurants, some with tyrannical chefs, some with chefs who push the limits of cuisine, as if shock and awe will put them on the map. But Chef Christophe Cussac has created a name for himself while being kind, humble and valuing tradition. Always including his team in photos and telling us that a truly great meal is: “50% service and 50% food”, Chef Cussac is a rare jewel in the intense world of Michelin-starred chefs.
Requesting the open kitchen layout offers a glimpse of his attitude towards sharing the kitchen, an environment of creation made with a skilled team.
Standing at our table, his kind and humble demeanour exudes from him as he explains that he doesn’t just make up dishes to suit his taste and put them on the menu—rather, he has his team taste them and he takes their feedback seriously. “We must make dishes that people will enjoy eating, not just what I want to make.”
There is no doubt why the Hotel Metropole has held on to him for 20 years.
Offering a wealth of seafood selections, the menu offers both à la carte (€80 - 110), and an 8-course prix fixe tasting menu featuring a who’s who of the sea: langoustines, lobster, caviar, and Sainte-Pierre; plus a choice of meat, a fruit dessert and the dessert cart (€295).
The menu also offers a selection of small plates to allow people to try a wide variety of dishes (€27 - 85), from seafood specialities like the Chef’s signature Tartare de Sar with a caviar cannelloni, to veal sweetbreads.
The meal starts with a few nibbles of traditional foods in homage to Monaco: pissaladière, flatbread and ‘Barbajuan’ (in dialect) a fried ravioli with chard, ricotta, onions and leeks.
As we are poured a fragrant Spanish olive oil, we get a visit from Mirko and the bread cart. Who knew bread could be so exciting? Standing behind a spread of crusty and hearty creations, Mirko takes a spoon to a tower of butter and with several whips of his wrist, creates a quenelle of soft, yellow butter for the table. Fortunately, we will see more of Mirko and the bread cart.
After selecting crunchy mini-baguettes, some soft focaccia rolls and a slice or two of seeded sourdough, the amuse bouche arrives, an incredible plate of fresh, local cherry tomatoes blanched to perfection and topped with superb oil, a shaving of parmesan and baby basil.
For our dishes, we try a selection of small plates and a main dish, picking from the land-based options as both diners unfortunately have seafood allergies. Truly succulent pigeon, delicate rack of lamb and beef filet that earned the title of one of the best, ever.
Taking the suggestion to try the pea-bacon-carrot plate was an illumination of both texture and flavour. This seemingly simple dish hid complexities in different layers, starting with the shredded bacon-topped dome of intensely-flavoured gelatine. Underneath this clear sheath were fresh peas on a bed of carrot purée, accented with turmeric and orange. The smooth puree was slightly sweet, in contrast to the crunchy peas - completely different in flavour when eaten separately from the gelatine. It was a fascinating and enjoyable dish that I highly recommend!
Selecting the cheese cart is risky business because you think you’ll only try a few pieces… but our Dining Director, Romain, created an entire selection for us, each cheese more delicious than the other, helped out again by a visit from the bread cart.
For dessert, we skipped the cart and opted for the millefeuil and the Grand Marnier soufflé, my favourite. By far, the best I’ve ever had, perfectly cooked and ate like a cloud infused with the essence of Grand Marnier. Perfection.
As can be expected from a two-star service, our fleet of servers and salle directors never skipped a beat - we never lacked for a thing and when the next wine was served, we hadn’t noticed the previous glass disappear. The flow of food and wine and conversation was so perfectly timed that our 5-hour dinner felt fresh, fun and despite the numerous courses, we left feeling delightfully satisfied as opposed to tired and heavy.
If you are looking for a truly special dining experience, Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac is not to be missed!