Perched on the very edges of our world, as we contemplate casting off and relinquishing control of ourselves to the savage whims of sky and sea, our realities are conflated with the dizzy shuffle of images that are always invoked when fate is tempted by destiny.
This heady romantic adventure thrills all sea-farers, from those plucky craft that fling themselves into the waters in search of the means of subsistence and survival, to the elegant brutes that glide across oceans, furnishing their owners with nothing more necessary than pleasure.
It is on the edges, a refracted series of frontiers, that A´Trego stands. It stands sentry between land and the endless placid fury of the Mediterranean blue, whose sea and sky invite fantasy. It sits in amused reflection on the border between the rest of the world and Monaco, the otherworldy citadel where the world’s elite seek refuge beyond the normal rules of economics and even geography. It tips its cap to the traditionally humble fishing boats of yesteryear, still laden with the catch of the day, and doffs its hat, bowing low, for the multi-million dollar yachts a mere twenty metres away over the border in the Principality.
The site of one such plucky fisherman’s hut on a rocky outcrop on the Cap d’Ail causeway is where owners Cyrille Regottaz, former manager of the legendary Jimmy’z in Monaco, and Corrado Agusta, of the Italian motorcycle dynasty, chose to create this groundbreaking restaurant and bar. It is from the site’s former occupant, fisherman Monsieur Trego, that it takes its name.
Spread over three expansive floors, A´Trego is Philippe Starck’s thrillingly eclectic study in pared-down design. This modern master’s embodiment of the surreal enormity of breathing at the water’s edge is at once utterly integrated with and foreign to its breathtaking location - much like man juxtaposed with the sea.
Reminiscent of a ship’s deck, the second floor fans guests out along its terrace to bask luxuriantly in the sun like the crocodiles Starck has intriguingly set floating exotically up the wall. A gazebo offers shelter from the Mediterranean glare, while the dedicated bar keeps the vital liquids flowing and the kitchen serves a reduced menu until the mid-afternoon.
Starck’s genius is seen in the sparing touch of a designer at the peak of his powers. He conjures up an interiority, a mythology, for A´Trego from the exquisite materials he uses like an artist’s palette; this one being the fictionalised exploration of Monsieur Trego’s consciousness. He achieves this in dazzling style by allowing the story to breathe for itself through his daring mixing of top tier luxury fixtures and fittings with found and vintage objets acquired in the antique shops and flea markets of the world during Starck’s artistic odyssey.
On the first and main floor, the vast mahogany deck stretches out almost organically, taking the form of the weighty footprint of this luxury outcrop. Large tables featuring the formal beauty of silver service and a sense of casual spontaneous luxury conveyed by mismatched crockery are dotted around the open kitchen leading up to and around the bar and beyond onto the deck’s own vast terrace, which looks out onto the lapping waves of the Mediterranean.
The kitchen, presided over by former Hotel Columbus and Monaco favourite Chef Laurent Sturbois, creates a constantly evolving Provencal menu using sustainable locally sourced and at times minutes-fresh ingredients. Everything treads a frontier path at A´Trego, and with timeless extravagances dishes such as Les truffes râpées sur une brouillade d'oeufs et pain grille or deconstructed Tarte Citron acting as vibrant counterpoints to the gorgeous simplicity of the rest of the menu, the kitchen is no exception.
Less a subterranean refuge and more like a devil-may care plunge into the unknown - in this case the tar black and treacle thick night sea - the sunken ground floor and its bar offer a sense of liberation all the more intimate as a restricted, ultra-exclusive, guest list of revellers kick the sand from the soles of their feet and shake the salt out of their hair.
The dual canvases of sea and sky reach out from where we stand on the last delicate scraps and sandy vestiges of land to their secret infinities of possibility. Stretched taut from our feet to the horizon by our imaginations, they are where we paint our dreams and project our fantasies, the kind of which that at Starck’s extraordinary A´Trego, only the lucky, glittering star-studded few can conjure.
- Benjamin Stewart
Address: Port de Cap d´Ail
Cap d´Ail, 06320
Tel: 4 93 28 58 22
Photo Credit: Images 37-41: © Guillaume Plisson