Dining at Le Cap Estel: La Table de Patrick Raingeard as a romantic retreat in Eze sur Mer
La Table de Patrick Raingeard is a Michelin starred restaurant in the exclusive Le Cap Estel hotel. Crowned by its lush garden around a curvy private road driving you in and out the property. The outdoor seating starts from the warm months (usually June-mid September), unless it rains or blasts gales. The chequered indoor part of the restaurant also serves as the breakfast room for the checked in guests. There are only a few suites and smaller rooms in the main villa and in a new building on its side.
Cap Estel like a head of an eagle reaches out into the Mediterranean between two wide-spanning wings – Cap Ferrat and Cap d’Ail. A short ride from Monaco, this is one of the most relaxing and romantic spots to dine in the area (like the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat now a Four Seasons managed property).
One feels so close to nature here — the murmur of the sea waves, the verdant pines and refreshing coastal breeze are disturbed only by the gentle voices of the waiting staff serving you. As the ducks and cute ducklings wander around your table outside, you might not resist to throw them at least a small slice of the warm bread. The giant sourdough loaf comes from our favourite bakery in the area, the Ma Premiere Boulangerie up in La Turbie. The country bread is served with Huilerie St Michel olive oil from Menton flavoured for the chef with verbena. Mauro Collagreco also uses their oils at Mirazur.
The boutique luxury of Le Cap Estel is a peaceful retreat for Monaco residents. This ultra luxurious villa hotel through all its facilities is a sanctuary of calm and elegance. It is a very romantic spot for couples, but also a place where one can focus on work or creativity as well as making it a family escape from all the duties at home. The pool bar and garden are one of my favourite aperitif spots on the Riviera. Undisturbed by tourists, over-excited kids and car noise, this is what I call an oasis of calm. One needs it when living in the nearby buzzing Monaco, where traffic and construction steal all the romance the tiny principality used to posses over a century ago when Apollinaire grew up there.
Dress as you would to a dinner at an elegant five-star hotel, yet there is no need for a tie or a formal dress. Wearing a comfortable long silk dress or light pants could tune you to the fresh and relaxed atmosphere at Cap Estel.
The food at La Table de Patrick Raingeard feels fresh in the mouth, is locally sourced and so light that the m meal won’t disrupt anyone’s ‘regime‘. This is one of the rare gastronomic restaurants where after a multi-course menu you will not feel like you have just eaten for two. You feel pampered rather than driven over by a truck as at most high-dining establishments. Each plate is meticulously described and the exact provenance of the ingredients is disclosed if you are curious. If you like the sweet and fragrant lemon or the wild strawberries, then you know where to get them!
After a complimentery amuse bouche of a giant one-pieace ‘raviolo’ with meat & chorizo filling, I ordered the Asparagus bunch with radish, mouse of candied lemon from Menton and smoked verbena. Cooked just right – still crisp yet mellow, the asparagus tips were flawless. The flavours of the mousse brought up fond memories of the Riviera – the lemon gardens in Menton and the verbena leafs in digestif tisanes. A decade later, I had to order also a white asparagus dish, its form as delicious as the first impression. Such an incredible starter raised my expectations about the upcoming dishes.
For seafood, the Blue lobster salad with strawberries from Carros, eggplant with balsamic vinegar aged for 8 years by Leonardi would not only satisfy cravings, but also it offers the opportunity to try one the La Table de Patrick Raingeard signature dishes. Who would think of eating lobster with strawberries? The only weakness was the quality of the lobster. This crustacean is often offered but rarely excellent in France. Only the right season and location secure the most tender catch! US diners used to the melting-texture of Maine lobster might be disappointed.
Moving to the main acts, first with a Monkfish roasted in purple artichoke, corn and Ibérique chorizo cream with roquette foam, my palate was in the food heaven. There were so many unique flavors on my plate that I could not decide which I liked the most. The artichokes as well as the fish were tastier when dipped in the green roquette foam. The yellow corn sauce enriched the otherwise light monkfish and the Ibérique chorizo cream added a bit of rich and spicy notes.
Another sea-sourced main course recommended by the waiter at La Table de Patrick Raingeard, the Wild turbot with chanterelles, stew of white beans and raisin, yuzu mousse, was also excellent. As I dipped my fork into my husband’s plate, I found the delicate texture of the fish elevated by the soft Japanese yuzu citrus mousse with the juicy raisins.
If you prefer land to the sea, then meats like the Charolais beef, local provençal lamb or a guinea fowl from Bresse (Burgundy) widen your choices. Of course there are tasting menus with multiple courses and also some vegetarian, even vegan options. This spring, I tried the vegetarian tasting inclusive of two desserts and a cheese plate, and adding the sublime bread, I felt I had just the perfect amount of food.
You can round up your meal with a plate of cheese or (and as you will get some without ordering it) dessert. The French cheese selection is wide, and the desserts innovative including local and exotic fruits such as yuzu and combava. The Wild strawberries, crispy verbena and lemon sorbet, accompanied by a foam of combava represents a perfect friendship of the French cuisine with exotic ingredients. Citrus, fruits, chocolate and even vegetables circulate in the sweet plates.
Drinks: Start you special evening with a glass of champagne or a cocktail at the attic-themed pool house or at the lobby terrace. The view and the sizzling sea transfer you into timeless realms. You might even forget that you came here for a meal. Skimming the wine list at La Table de Patrick Raingeard though brought me back to the Earth. The pocket-deep prices for the mostly top Bordeaux and Burgundies may challenge some diners.
There were also reasonably priced ‘bargains’ on the list and the sommelier was very helpful with choosing the right wine for us. The Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru la Pousse d’Or from Burgundy was an ideal refreshing Chardonnay with our delicate dishes. Even more affordable is the local white by Clos St Vincent of AOC Bellet, this was after all the wine served at the princely wedding in Monaco, so quite a royal pour. Most recently we were pleased to find a still fair-priced Rayas, so we splurged on.
Cuisine: Mediterranean, gastronomic
Visits: June 2012 and April 2022
Chef: Patrick Raingeard is a well-established Michelin-stared French chef creating light, fresh and locally sourced dishes in the Riviera spirit.
Contact:+33 0 493762929
Address: 1312 Avenue Raimond-Poncare, Eze-Bord-de-mer 06360, France