Zermatt mountain restaurants: style meets substance
February 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Zermatt’s mountain restaurants are legendary and looking at the view from the balcony of Chez Vrony in the hamlet of Findeln you can see why. We were in Zermatt for the busy February half term holiday week so making some key lunchtime bookings well in advance was an important part of my holiday planning.
Our first lunch was at Chez Vrony is a Zermatt institution run by Vrony Julen, daughter of one of one of Zermatt’s long established families. The food is delicious, the service is both charming and almost fearsomely efficient. Our New Zealand nephew Simon’s jaw dropped visibly as we were shown to our stunning balcony table and seated on cosy benches strewn with sheepskins. He later admitted it was a far cry from his usual eating experience in the ski fields of New Zealand where lunch means a snatched pot noodle in a utilitarian shed.
Chez Vrony caters for both hearty and more ladylike appetites. I chose the Salad Vrony, an elegant supercharged version of a chicken Caesar salad:
The salad followed by a double espresso was more than enough to set me up for the afternoon’s skiing but nephew Simon and son George were both still hungry after rösti and risotto respectively and chose the apple fritters for pudding. Needless to say, these disappeared in a flash:
Later in the week we made the obligatory hop-over the Theodul Pass into the Italian village of Cervinia. When in Italy, it has to be polenta, in this case Polenta Valdostana smothered with butter and molten cheese. As my Milanese friend Matteo said recently “no self-respecting Italian would ever eat pasta in the mountains: it has to be polenta”. Polenta is incredibly filling and has amazing heat-retentive properties. Lunch kept us going for the rest of the afternoon without any need for coffee and cake.
In general, Cervinia’s mountain restaurants don’t quite live up to the standards set by its Swiss cousin Zermatt. We ate our polenta at a decent enough self-service place at the foot of the Colle inferiore delle Cime Bianche chairlift on the Valtournenche side of the resort. Though the polenta was good, the place itself was nothing to write home about.
Ski Club Rep Paul Ubysz, a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to local knowledge of Zermatt and Cervinia had recommended to us the Resto-Grill Les Clochards accessible from Piste 5 on the Plan Maison side of the resort. I see that there are rave reviews for a Swedish run place called L’Etoile though I wonder if reviewers are star-struck by the lovely team of blonde waitresses. Take your pick…
We are keen skiers so some days lunch was a picnic in the snow with supplementary coffee and cake later in the day. The spectacularly situated Gandegg Hut accessible from the high Theodul glacier ski runs is a perfect place to warm up and refuel. They serve generous portions of home-made apple cake:
The restaurant at Stafel accessible from the red run down to the village from the Schwarzsee area is a similarly good place to linger. They serve excellent warming soups and their home made tarts look extremely inviting:
Finally, I couldn’t leave German-speaking Switzerland without at least one plate of rösti. My favourite is the classic combination of rösti with ham and fried eggs. They serve up a storming version at the Restaurant Blatten on the lower slopes of the Schwarzsee ski area:
Blatten is another restaurant in the Chez Vrony mould: family run (by Leander and Simone Taugwalder); combines rustic charm with super-efficient service and attention to detail; delicious food for a range of appetites. The interior is cosy and wood-panelled and there is a sunny terrace outside:
Here are they key details to tap into your mobile phone before you go:
Tel +41 27 967 25 52
Tel +41 79 607 8868 (hut keeper’s mobile)
Tel +41 27 967 30 62
Tel +41 27 967 20 96
If you’v eaten in Zermatt or Cervinia recently, I’d love to hear your experiences. Please send me a comment.