Ever since I heard about the opening of a new vegan restaurant in Monaco, I wanted to eat there. So last week I dragged my carnivore boyfriend to Eqvita in Monaco, founded by tennis player Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena, which serves 100% plant-based food.
I am not all too familiar with Novak Djokovic, but apparently he is a professional tennis player and, according to Wikipedia, “one of the greatest tennis players of all time”. So when he opened a vegan health restaurant in April of this year, the media were all over it. That’s also how I found out about the opening of Eqvita. Eqvita is a healthy restaurant with “a menu of fresh, plant-based, vegan cuisine” (according to their website, which is currently under construction). Needless to say, I was excited. I eat vegan most of the time and I am a huge supporter of vegan restaurants: if only there were more!
Since I am currently on vacation in France, about half an hour from Monaco, I just had to have dinner at Eqvita. So last week I made a reservation and had three vegan courses and organic champagne at Eqvita. Here is my review.
First: Eqvita’s location is really lovely. It’s in a street with many other restaurants where I’ve eaten before and it’s a nice, busy street. Eqvita is smaller than the other restaurants but has a nice, big terrace, which is where we sat. I highly recommend a table at the terrace, it’s very open and nice. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many people were there. I really don’t like eating in an empty restaurant but Eqvita was almost full. Also, I quite enjoyed watching all the people walk by and take a picture in front of the ‘famous’ restaurant.
Now, about the food: although I am a huge supporter of vegan cooking, restaurants and wish everyone would go vegan, I am always a little disappointed that vegan restaurants seem to want to go overboard. Eqvita is no exception in this regard. Everything on the menu is ‘healthy’, gluten-free, often raw and minimally processed. This is not a bad thing, but in my opinion it takes a very skilled chef to make raw, vegan (unprocessed) food interesting. I once attended a workshop by a stellar vegan chef and every bite of everything he made was like a bit of heaven. Unfortunately, Eqvita was not like that. Healthy: yes, but interesting: not so much.
Here is an impression of what’s on the menu:
As a starter, I ordered a salad which you can see below. It was actually quite tasty. I loved the dressing and the sweet potato. It was a small salad and it wasn’t really enough for me. But since I was having three courses, it was fine.
As a main dish I chose the saffron risotto which was on the specials menu. It was very good, but to be honest nothing special. It tasted a lot like the risotto I make at home. While I am excited to be able to order risotto at a restaurant without the butter and Parmesan cheese, I would have expected something a little more exciting. Yes it was vegan; no it was nothing special.
My boyfriend played it ‘safe’ and ordered the burger, which looked a little sad. It was tiny and fell apart as he tried to eat it. He didn’t enjoy it at all. I had a bite and immediately agreed. There was nothing tasty about the burger and the bun was also quite bland.
For dessert I had the mango cheesecake, which I would recommend. It was sweet, firm and very tasty. I believe the filling was made with cashews and I really loved it.
My boyfriend ordered a crème brûlée, which was cold (apparently that’s the way it’s supposed to be) and looked like pudding. It wasn’t good at all and he didn’t finish it. Quite disappointing.
On a more positive note: Eqvita is affordable. Below you can see our bill, which may seem high, but we had a bottle of champagne to go with the food. The food itself was very reasonably priced.
So the verdict: Eqvita is a nice-looking restaurant in a great location in Monaco, but unfortunately the food is nothing special, even tasteless at times. In my opinion, it makes vegan food look bad, which can be really delicious. If the goal is to attract vegans and extremely health-conscious people, then I’m sure they will succeed. It is the only vegan restaurant in Monaco after all. If, on the other hand, they are trying to convince people to go vegan, they might not be so successful. Vegan food can be much more interesting, creative, tasty and fun than it is at Eqvita. Serve a well-seasoned burger that won’t fall apart, an interesting vegetable risotto with flavours I don’t immediately recognize and perhaps I will come back. I still really love the effort though: years ago I never imagined myself eating at a 100% vegan restaurant where I can literally order every dish on the menu. That’s a huge accomplishment and celebration in itself!