Perched on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, Lausanne enjoys wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. Its proximity to Geneva makes it the perfect getaway for a romantic evening, as the city offers a selection of great bistros and restaurants, from local haunts to haute cuisine and gourmet delicacies. This is the ultimate guide to eating out in picturesque Lausanne.
A feast for the eyes, taste buds and soul, Café Saint-Pierre combines urban chic with chromatic plastic and an airy ambiance with colorful – and flavorful – dishes. The cafe is primarily renowned for its wide selection of tapas, served every evening and prepared with a touch of Spanish creativity and Swiss precision; from the delicate aubergine caviar with Lebanese bread to the fresh Bresaola carpaccio and creamy foie gras with Tasmanian pepper. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, Café Saint-Pierre throws a widely popular brunch session, with playful options such as ‘So British’ – a combination akin to the infamous English breakfast. A good choice of board games, colorful photographs displayed along the walls and regular music events make this small venue a creative hub, where diners can enjoy much more than just the food.
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La Pinte Besson
One of the oldest restaurants in Switzerland, La Pinte Besson was opened in 1780 by a local wine merchant. It still retains much of its original atmosphere, as the merry guests, heavy wooden benches and stained glass decorations come together to create a unique dining venue in the heart of old Lausanne. The cuisine offers few, but well-picked, typically Swiss dishes, with fondue and entrecote remaining firm favorites among guests. While the fondue is served with a variety of deliciously fresh meats and combines varied flavors, the grilled beef entrecote presents an assertively rich portion of succulent, melt-in-the-mouth meat. La Pinte Besson’s character makes it both understated and fabulous, and certainly an unmissable stop on Lausanne’s culinary trail.
Anne-Sophie Pic at Hôtel Beau-Rivage Palace
Led by the talented Anne-Sophie Pic, whose three Michelin stars speak volumes about her skills, this fine dining establishment is among the best restaurants in Lausanne. Set in the stunning Beau-Rivage palace with direct access to Lake Leman, Anne-Sophie Pic’s restaurant was designed by Stewart Wildson and is decorated with soft hues of gold and beige, giving it an air of refinement and groomed elegance. Similarly, each dish on the menu is a meticulous composition, where color, flavor and shape come together in an astonishing symbiosis. An impressive cellar with over 70,000 bottles of wine guarantees that no guest goes thirsty. In summer, the restaurant opens its outdoor terrace and garden, giving spectacular views over the lake and mountains.
Café Romand is the last of the grande brasseries that used to reign in beautiful Lausanne. Established in 1951, it still breathes authentic vintage charm with its heavy oak furniture, grand architecture and a self-confessed bourgeois approach to cooking. The menu is largely seasonal, but one thing that never changes at Café Romand is the classic fondue; the moitié-moitié fondue is particularly tasty, combining soft Fribourg Vacherin with tangy Gruyère in a harmonious fusion of flavors and undertones. A variety of meats and local classics are also on offer, including typical brasserie-style brains and tripe for the daring, along with a good selection of sauerkraut-based dishes and flavorful wines.
Café des Artisans
As its name suggests, Café des Artisans has an artsy approach to its decor and an artisanal attitude towards its food. The cafe-bistro hybrid launched in 2012 and immediately attracted solid attention along with an eclectic clientele. Their healthy, visually stunning salads are light and satisfying, and served with a good measure of imagination. Swiss staples are available too, along with the ubiquitous foie gras and melt-in-the-mouth duck fillet accompanied by a sweet touch of pear and apple. Besides food, Café des Artisans cooks up regular events, from the occasional flea market to casual gigs and cuisine exchanges – the most recent involved a one-night Vietnamese takeover, where the cafe’s usual menu was replaced with a Vietnamese selection of dishes.
Part-café, part-chocolaterie, Le Barbare is a true institution in the heart of Lausanne’s old town, at the foot of the Notre Dame cathedral. Though the venue does not have an extensive menu, it offers a so-called petite restauration – a variety of snacks, quick meals such as the croque monsieur (grilled cheese and ham sandwich) and tasty cakes. What Le Barbare is most famous for, however, is the chocolate. Velvety and full of texture, rich, creamy and deliciously indulgent, the hot chocolate maison is an unmissable treat in a country so famous for its chocolate industry. In the summer, Le Barbare takes to the streets and opens its beer garden, where green parasols and pink roses guarantee a wonderful afternoon in the shade of the impressive cathedral.
Café de Grancy
Art-deco charm and shabby chic form a great duo at Café de Grancy. The bistro is always buzzing with young, trendy guests who come here to enjoy the delicious food and laid-back atmosphere. And although ‘informal’ is part of Café de Grancy’s philosophy, the menu offers a sophisticated symphony of flavors. The salmon tartare sprinkled with coriander and avocado or the prawns and calamari spiced up with ginger, sesame seeds and mango make the perfect entrees. To satisfy more than just the petit faim, try the special truffle menu, where succulent beef fillet is served with a port reduction, and the creamy foie gras terrine sprinkled with aromatic truffle oil. In fact, the cafe’s shop offers prime quality artisanal foie gras to take away – a perfect gift for the most discerning of gourmets.
Au Chat Noir
Au Chat Noir is one of Lausanne’s many hidden gems. Nestled on a corner near the Lausanne Opera House, the restaurant offers bistro-style food prepared with flair and a stunning feel for elegance. The seasonal menu is always an interesting surprise and features incredibly tender meats, best served medium rare for a full intensity of flavor – most ingredients are sourced from local farms and markets, guaranteeing absolute freshness. Bustling and convivial, Au Chat Noir’s atmosphere makes the dining experience there an incredibly pleasant and informal affair, where the delicious food – and well-picked regional wines – take center stage.
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