Unless you want to drop four-figures onÂ Louis XV, there’s one other “logical” dining choice inÂ Monte Carlo, and that isÂ CafÃ© de Paris: the venerableÂ brasserie that’s right across the courtyard from Louis XV – CafÃ© de Paris is where (so the legend goes)Â CrÃªpe-SuzetteÂ was first served, way back in 1895.
The last time I was in Monaco, a few years ago, I had lunch atÂ CafÃ© de Paris. Back then, it had one Michelin star which was perfectly justified; although it’s included in the 2016 Michelin Red Guide, it no longer has its star.
Going to the same restaurant in MonteÂ Carlo twice in a row isÂ oh-so-last-month, so this time around, I decided to break new ground (actually, there was aÂ Yacht Show, and there was exactly *one* parking space available in the entire principality). I emerged from the garage – which seems to encompass all of underground Monaco – and was staring face-to-face at the restaurant I really wanted to try:Â Eqvita.
“What in the hell is Eqvita, Don?”
Well, believe it or not, Eqvita is a 100% vegan restaurant, backed by none other thanÂ World #1 Tennis Legend Novak Djokovic, who is mostly vegan, having a gluten-free diet, and lives in MonteÂ Carlo when he’s not traveling the world winning Grand Slam Championships.
The weather was lovely, and my dining companion and I chose to dine across the little road, on Eqvita’s umbrella-covered patio. It wasÂ a pretty late lunch, and we were both gettingÂ cranky-hungry, so we were delighted to over-order, just a bit.
Eqvita serves wine (organic, of course), but we chose to go with the flow, and enjoy the restaurant’s house-made non-alcoholic beverages. My companion orderedÂ Novak’s Secret (8â‚¬), made with dry chia seeds, hemp protein, chlorella-spirulina powder, spinach, banana, pineapple, avocado, and apple juice; I got aÂ Stefan’s Kid ShakeÂ (8â‚¬,Â Stefan is Novak and Jelena’s son), made with banana, vanilla extract, soaked dates, sweet water from soaked dates, probiotics, and homemade coconut milk. The most surprising thing about these two *very* different beverages was how much they tasted alike – both had only a faint hint of sweetness, and switching them back and forth provided very little difference – it was bizarre, considering how different they looked.
We ordered everything at once, and asked our extremely pleasant server to just bring everything when it was ready. I’d say when it was “cooked,” but this was all raw food, and it was probably the single healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant. You could eat every single meal at Eqvita, running the menu as many times as you please, and still probably lose a half-pound a day, no matter what you ordered.
I wanted the Pea Soup with Lime and MintÂ (10â‚¬), and my companion asked our server for a recommendation: “The lasagna,” he quickly replied after finding out there were no dietary restrictions (although I can’t imagine what type of dietary restriction could prevent anyone from eating such a dish), so the Amazing Lasagna (16â‚¬) it was. The Lasagna was really just a salad, with “noodles” made of zucchini, and innards of cashew-milk cheese, sun-dried tomato sauce, pistachio pesto, tomatoes, and arugula – while healthy, it was also (I’m sorry to say) quite bland, and would have prospered greatly from some salt and pepper. Don’t get me wrong: This was not bad *at all*; but it was healthy to an extreme, and when you’re used to eating at least *some* type of seasoning, there’s no way it can’t come across as very neutral on the palate.
Knowing full well this wasn’t going to be enough food, we ordered a “can” (sorry, my own bad pun) of three Energy BallsÂ (6â‚¬), one of each, and they were – as you might suspect – the highlight of the meal, with the possible exception of the Pea Soup. There wereÂ all sorts of healthy things in them – almonds, dates, coconut, etc., and they tided us over food-wise. We’d also finished our drinks, and got a couple glasses of Matcha MilkÂ (8â‚¬) – really more for some additional calories than for any type of thirst. Alas, it was *quite* bitter, and even after adding multiple shakes of raw, brown sugar to try to neutralize the bitterness, it was still poking through – it was the weak point of the meal, for sure.
Our grand banquet (the Matcha Milk is pictured above):
So, the big question: Would we return? If I lived here, and had Monaco Money, I’d eat here *all the time*, and would probably live to be 110; as a tourist, coming here once is plenty, but I am glad we tried Eqvita – surely one of the healthiest restaurants on the planet. Plus, now I can go back to CafÃ© de Paris and not feel quite so last-month.
Oh, one other thing: I wasn’t kidding about the Yacht Show. If Monaco doesn’t have the highest concentration of extreme wealth in the world, I’d like to know what does – somewhere in Abu Dhabi, maybe?