I’ve read many blogs about people warning about Switzerland’s high prices. I can’t deny it – Switzerland is expensive. Food, in particular, can be 45% higher than the western European average. If you look at The Economist’s Big Mac Index, the price of a Big Mac in Switzerland is more than double of what you would pay for today in the US. Sounds crazy, huh?
But don’t let prices scare you off – Switzerland is a beautiful country, and you won’t have seen it properly until you’ve made food a part of your travel experience. Quality food remains an important part of swiss culture; and I’m not only talking about their cheese – he country has, after all, the highest number of Michelin stars per capita.
During my two years living in Lausanne, I’ve had the chance to eat my way through a big part of its cafes and restaurants (perks of living in a small city!). I was impressed by the variety in cuisine and price ranges that were available – a diversity that other larger european cities are missing.
Choosing only 5 Lausanne eateries for this post has been a very hard job. So, to make things a bit easier for me, I’ve left out those restaurants that have already received my special mention in previous occasions (you will find a list with the links to these articles at the end of the post). Also, I’ve limited my recommendations to a certain budget – it’s too easy to recommend restaurants with Michelin Stars, right?
Without further ado, here are Lausanne’s stars.
If you’ve always wanted to taste a plate elaborated by one of Europe’s master chefs but don’t really have the cash (or time) to go through a 10 course menu – Le Citadin is the best alternative. As high quality and sophisticated fast food corner in the center of Lausanne, it’s perfect to grab a quick but healthy snack. If you’re weak, like me, you’ll surrender to what Philippe Guignard does best – pastries. I can hear you people salivating while staring at that passion fruit and chocolate pastry up here. That’s exactly what I mean.
The swiss are very proud of the quality of their meat. At first, I thought it was just national pride for internal supply (in terms of “anything swiss is better”); but in fact, swiss meat does taste really good. Then again, this shouldn’t be of any surprise – cows that eat fresh green grass and are free to walk up and down the hills will taste different to those who eat grains in a commercial farm.
Holy Cow is exactly that – a praise to high quality meat sourced in Canton Vaud. Not only the meat, but all of the ingredients of their delicious gourmet burgers are fresh, have been locally produced and are prepared right in front of you. The crew is young and lots of fun! They’re often singing in the kitchen to the sound of good rock music!
I regret not taking a picture of one of their fantastic burgers (oh Smokey…) – I could never resist to take a big bite of them as soon as they were mine!
You might have read previously about my love for crêpes. It’s definitely no secret. However, it was only in Lausanne where I found my love for a good crêpe bretonne. These crêpes, originally from Brittany, are many of plain buckwheat flour, instead of white wheat flour; which makes them darker and crispy.
Crêperie d’Ouchy is charming because of its proximity to the lake. On a nice afternoon, one can sit on the terrace drinking sider while engaging into one of my favorite activities – people watching. If, instead, you’re more of a mountain person, you better go to Crêperie La Chandeleur, not far from Lausanne’s Cathedral. It’s more familiar and cozy, all decorated in wood – just like a mountain hut! It also has my very favorite crêpe over all, made of fresh cheese and spinach!
In the land of fondues and raclettes, it’s difficult to choose one restaurant based on this plate. Actually, for the real and complete winter and cheese experience, I’d rather suggest to take a train ride up to a mountain, walk in the snow and then get inside a wooden hut with a fire place and order a big fondue moitié-moitié.
But ok, let’s assume that you can’t just get on a train for an hour and a half to have lunch on top of a mountain – then, Cafe Romand is the nearest to sitting in one of those swiss cottages. It’s one of the city’s oldest restaurants and it is characteristic for having a very swiss flair. When entering the cafe, one is taken into a different era!
If you’re one of the tough ones – follow up with a meringue smothered in crème double de la Gruyère (double thick Gruyère cream). I could do it (you should too!).
Cafe de la Poste
And to finish, my best recommendation for this regional speciality: filets de perches! I’ve mentioned this plate before – after all, it has been a regular meal during my time in Switzerland, specially during summer. Back then, I highlighted a delicious lunch I had in Chateau d’Ouchy early may and the importance of running through the menu (and its footnotes) searching for a hint on the origin of these filets. You should always look for filets de perches frais du Lac Léman (the rest, although cheaper, will only make you regret for having ordered that plate instead of, say, spaghetti bolognese).
Well, if you’re willing to pay the extra cash it takes to eat fresh fish, then I highly recommend you Cafe de la Poste. Although not literally in Lausanne, it’s only a 10-15 bus ride from the center of the city, in a beautiful little village called Lutry. This family owned business has been up and going for over 20 years and is well-known among the locals, so reservation is recommended for most of the times (even for lunch on weekdays).
Now tell me: Would you give Switzerland’s food offer a go, despite the prices?