La Montagne, Chardonne, near Vevey
I took a week off and decided to spend it wisely. After having been at the Gault Millau rising star of the year in the geman speaking part of Switzerland, I saw that the the equivalent in the french speaking part is in Chardonne. David Tarnowski is running a place called Le Montagne. It’s a lovely place, you can reach it by taking the train to Vevey and from Vevey there’s a funiculaire which takes you up through the vineyards. From Chardonne-Jogny it’s a five minute walk to the le Montagne which is just opposite a small grocery shop. This all has a romantic sound to it, but once you enter the restaurant you notice this is an establishment serious about dining. The fun begins, my french is okay but all the “infusion de quelque chose” and the “melange d’autre choses” make it a bit difficult. I didn’t understand all the components of all of the dishes. So I went the easy route and opted for the menu foret d’automne. The amuse bouche was a small glass of carrot soup. It followed with a very heavy, thick and intense soup unfortunatley I didn’t understand what it was made of. The absoulte highlight was the bacon which was in the soup. It was salty and dominated all flavours, taking a bit away from the poultry and chestnut which was also in the soup. The next course was the one I cared least about, the pigeon was okay but the cellery puree which was mixed with a herb infusion was off. The flavours just were all over the place and not a very concentrated effort. I’ve come to enjoy wild boar and the next one looked like it was boar. The professional waiter told me it was “sanglier”. I wasn’t sure what that was and asked him “C’est l’animaux qui est manger par Obelix ?” (Obelix is a french cartoon character who eats wild boar). Seldomly have I seen a waiter in such a fine dining establishment grin with such pleasure, but he confirmed my suspicion. Again I wasn’t especially thrilled about the meat, but the accompanying vegetables where a delicacy. The mix of the different items accented the sauce in a complimentary fashion. To finish the meal, a nice tarte with an excellent ice cream was served. It turned out to be citronelle (lemon grass). Feeling good about going out to lunch in this place I decided to get kinky on the cheese and actually tried Stilton. Now I like neither Gorgonzola nor Roquefort, but was surprised that the English actually make a great blue cheese. My two and a half hour lunch finished on a high note with the espresso and some friandise (a not over the top platter). The chef even appeared personally at my table to make some chitchat. I though that was nice, but I’m probably not the world’s foremost expert in making french smalltalk, so I wasn’t too sure what he talked to me about.
At the end I was presented with a bill, which shows that such a lunch is a special occasion: