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Eat and stay in RitzCoffier, Switzerland

Perched overlooking Lake Lucerne, the Michelin-starred RitzCoffier blends nostalgia with a farm-to-table concept

Published 17 Apr 2019, 18:05 BST
Palace Hotel exterior
Palace Hotel exterior
Photograph by Severin Nowacki

A menu from the Bürgenstock Resort dated 1894 proclaims beef tongue with pureed tomatoes the order of the day and serves as a reminder of what came before haute cuisine. It hangs in the recently relaunched £440m resort, which incorporates a small museum, four hotels and two spas on a mountain ridge high above Lake Lucerne.

Following the revamp, RitzCoffier is now Bürgenstock’s flagship restaurant and it plays up the resort’s glamorous past. A tribute to the Swiss hotelier César Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier, it’s a nostalgic affair that also honours the work of its signature chef, Marc Haeberlin. Alongside his father, Marc helped L’Auberge de l’Ill, in the Alsace, maintain three Michelin stars for more than 50 years.

Located in the resort’s Palace Hotel, RitzCoffier has a chic, farm-kitchen feel, centring around a huge, black stove. We opted for a ‘surprise’ four-course menu, although a la carte is also available. The first course turns out to be Haerberlin’s famed goose liver foie gras, which is delicious, but the next appetiser pleases me more; poached egg with spinach and chanterelle mushrooms. It sounds simple until you imagine it set in a gazpacho with lobster ‘crumbs’. Once all the elements are muddled together, the dish becomes warm, gooey and sweet.

After a homely main of veal tenderloin with a dinky copper pot containing petit pois à la française (that’s peas with bacon), we finish with poached peach in a champagne sabayon, and pistachio ice cream. The fruit, poached in vanilla, is deliciously chilled and light, while the sabayon is like air. Rich air. The wine list, meanwhile, pays special attention to champagne, just as you might hope from somewhere that has 16 points from hallowed French restaurant guide Gault Millau.

For those sleeping off their champers, accommodation ranges from traditional chalet Taverne 1879 to the luxurious Waldhotel or the Bürgenstock Hotel. The Alpine Spa features saunas with views. An infinity pool clings to a corner of the building, its water-lapped edges blending into distant lake blues on a clear day. Four-course surprise menu from CHF200 (£156) per person, including wine pairing. Doubles at Taverne 1879 from CHF250 (£195) a night, B&B.

Best of the rest: Lake Lucerne dining

Spices Kitchen & Terrace: Another of the Bürgenstock Resort’s restaurants, Spices is packed nightly, thanks to its ‘floating’ position above the lake and its mix of Thai, Japanese and Indian food. 

Old Swiss House: This is an atmospheric spot to try hearty, traditional dishes. The speciality is Wiener schnitzel, prepared at your table.

Seerestaurant Belvédère: This place has a tranquil position on the shore of Lake Lucerne, and a Michelin star. Expect modern takes on traditional Swiss and European fare.

Published in the March 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller Food

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