Welcome to: Where I Spent My Week Off —by a NYC Restaurant "Insider"
[Continued from "My Week Off: Cap d'Antibes/Cap Ferrat"]
So, what do you do in the industry?
I’m a businessman [and entrepreneur] with substantial financial interests in the F&B Industry.
And you have how many weeks off a year, generally?
I try as best I can to get away, even if briefly, every eight to ten weeks. It doesn’t always work out that way.
What made you choose Monte Carlo for this vacation?
Actually, I was invited. I’ve been to Monaco before, so it probably wouldn’t have been my choice for this particular getaway. It ended up working out advantageously though, because I was able to meet with a potential business associate I’d previously met in NYC, who happens to have his primary residence in Monte Carlo.
And where did you stay?
Aboard the Black Sea. It has four separate guest chambers (all with full bathrooms), as well as a Master Chamber and sleeping quarters for a crew of five.
How was the ambience/service/amenities etc?
Everything was as perfect as it could possibly be. ["The Black Sea was entirely custom-built according to the stringent specifications of its owner. It looks and feels 'like an Ian Schrager hotel,' which is precisely the way I've heard at least several visitors aboard describing it. From what I've witnessed and gathered, the Black Sea is famous along the coasts of Turkey, Greece, and apparently, Croatia. It would be far from a stretch of the imagination to assert that surely it has now made its mark on the French Riviera as well. It turns heads (and camera lenses) absolutely everywhere it goes..."]
Any major glitches and/or disappointments?
I probably should have made my business meeting shorter or planned it differently? But, that’s a whole other story…
Any great standout experiences?
Sadly, not really.
The overall experience of traveling aboard Black Sea is incredibly gratifying. Unfortunately, however, I can’t say this particular visit to Monte Carlo was equally remarkable. Aside from my meeting being ill-timed and ill-conceived, the dining experience for our one evening in Monte Carlo was a bit disappointing as well.
I’m not exactly sure where the recommendation originated, but it was initially suggested we dine at La Trattoria— a new Italian restaurant by Alain Ducasse, located at Le Sporting Monte-Carlo. As you might imagine, the concept of this alone, as an experienced NYC-based restaurateur, is somewhat amusing at best. Too bad we couldn’t get a reservation.
So, the next option on the list was Fuji, a "pop-up" version of its regular venue that takes up residence at Le Sporting Monte-Carlo during the summer months. Apparently, the staff is flown in from Japan right before the season starts, which would explain why they seem to be much more proficient at foreign English than Monaco’s native French. It likely also sheds light on its conspicuous disorganization. And even perhaps its particularly exorbitant prices, which woefully, are not reflected in either the quality of the food, service, or ambience.
[Rather ironically, you must literally traverse the entire length of La Trattoria's interior in order to reach the entrance to Fuji.]
Afterward, a short stop at Hotel de Paris for a digestif did not fare any better. We ended up there, because the numerous people of varying tastes within our party could not agree on our next locale. It was "too early" for Jimmy’z, and hot spot Sass Café was deemed "too political" for its conduciveness to encountering disagreeable acquaintances and/or other social banes. Ultimately, Hotel de Paris was chosen for its proximity to the casino.
And what a mistake that was. I can’t speak for everyone, but sipping espresso in Times Square, for example, is not my idea of fun. (Clearly, the Russians don’t agree with me.)
How much did you blow all week?
This was in fact only one night within the week. Luckily, I didn’t spend that much in total, but regrettably, this night’s experience still could not vindicate the cost.