I have been visiting Montreux every year for many, many years and still find myself visiting new places. While I am often a creature of habit and have my favorite locales that I visit year after year – there are still some Montreux “classics” that I have yet to visit.
I have walked past they Royal Plaza Hotel and its lovely terrace (which is home to Café Bellagio) that hugs Lake Geneva many times as I walked along the shore. As it is located at the far end on Montreux its location affords a quiet respite from the bustle (if you can call it that) of the center of Montreux. Its location also provides a truly lovely view looking south and west down the vast expanse of the Lake.
One afternoon, while thinking about where to dine that evening I finally said let’s just go down the road a bit (the restaurant is a stone’s throw from Le Montreux Palace) and try Café Bellagio. I had the concierge make a reservation and we were all set for what would turn out to be a lovely dining experience.
When we arrived we were warmly welcomed and shown to a lovely table on the terrace. The sun was beginning to set which always provides a stunning show as it dances along the water before it falls below the horizon painting the entire sky and surrounding mountains in bright shades of crimson.
We ordered a couple of aperitifs to start the evening as we enjoyed the sunset. When I explained my dietary restrictions (celiac disease and shellfish allergy) our server listened and helped me navigate the menu to ensure that I would have a worry-free experience. She also double-checked with the kitchen to confirm that these dishes were or could be altered to be gluten-free.
For my starter I opted for the Déclinaison de tomates “Ananas & Noires de Crimée”, mozzarella di bufala & pesto de rucola (Variation of multi-colored tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala & rocket pesto). It was dressed in a light balsamic and was truly outstanding. The different tomatoes (the Ananas and Noires de Crimée varieties) provided a range of flavor-profiles and textures that when paired with the perfectly creamy buffalo mozzarella made this starter a real standout.
For my main course the Grenadin de veau cuit au sautoir, chanterelles, févettes & pêches rôties (Sautéed fillet of veal, chanterelles, fava beans & roasted peaches) caught my eye. One thing that I love about dining out in Switzerland is that the menu tells you the origin of the meats and fish that you will be enjoying. This evening, my veal would be from Germany. When the dish arrived it was beautifully presented. The veal was cooked perfectly – seared on the outside but still pink inside – but the flavor combination was spectacular. The pairing of the delicate meat with the woodsy and earthy flavors of the chanterelles and buttery fava beans paired with the subtle sweetness from the peaches made each forkful truly amazing. The flavors all worked in perfect harmony to make this main course truly remarkable.
I love that the restaurant has seasonal menus that change to take advantage of what is local and fresh. Another thing that Café Ballagio gets right is the portion sizes. Each course was perfectly-sized allowing you to truly enjoy what you were eating and, of course, allow room for dessert.
Speaking of dessert I opted for the Toupie chocolat blanc, framboises fraîches & huile d’olive extra vierge “Monti Iblei” (White chocolate spinning top, fresh raspberries & “Monti Iblei” extra virgin olive oil). This was a stunning thick disc of white chocolate that was topped with fresh raspberries accented by a hint of extra virgin olive oil. The Sicilian olive oil is extremely light but has delicate fruity notes that pair this perfectly with the white chocolate and raspberries. The dish typically arrives with a cookie but our waitress informed me she had them omit it as I was gluten-free – again looking out for my dietary needs. Service overall was excellent but not obtrusive. The staff was attentive but let you enjoy your evening and if you needed something they were there and happy to oblige. The use of traditional ingredients in unexpected flavor combinations that work so very well together make for an exciting dining experience.
I am definitely making Café Ballagio a regular stop during my visits to Montreux.
Royal Plaza Hotel
Av. Claude Nobs (anciennement Grand Rue 97)
Tel. +41 21 962 50 50