8 October 2014

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 October 8, 2014
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My annual visit to Montreux always yields surprises and this trip was no different.  Sadly, this trip marked the end of Harry’s Bar which was undergoing a renovation to re-open as Funky Claude’s Bar while we were there.  This was the end of an era for me as many a fabulous evening (and meals) was had at Harry’s so I was very sad to see it go.  Thankfully the bartenders pretty much remained the same so while the physical appearance is changing the soul of the place remains the same.

Another change this visit was the re-imagining of what was previously the Brassiere at Le Montreux Palace as Montreux Jazz Café.  I had dined at the Brasserie over the years but it was not really some place that I would make a special effort for.  The new Montreux Jazz Café however I would definitely make a special effort and on this previous trip dined there four evenings.


 
The new décor is a nod to the famous jazz festival that takes place during early July each year.  The new vibe is what I would best describe as funky elegant.  The atmosphere is relaxed but service is still first class and the food really shines.  There are pieces of jazz festival memorabilia scattered throughout the restaurant but not in a gaudy over the top Hard Rock Café kind of way – this is after all Montreux and you are still at Le Montreux Palace.  Which is a perfect segue into how they handle gluten-free and food allergic diners.

Fairmont is my go-to hotel chain because of their Lifestyle Cuisine Plus program that caters to a range of dietary requirements.  Kitchen and serving staff are well-versed in these requirements and truly go out of their way to ensure each guest has a flawless experience whatever their dietary needs might be.

Now before I get into the actual menu there was something quite cool that occurred during this visit.  While Le Montreux Palace always has had gluten-free bread options available in all of their food outlets – breakfast in La Palmeraie is always the highlight of my trip because they always have gluten-free croissants and pain au chocolat – need I say more?  However this trip, the other food outlets actually had a range of gluten-free breads that were refreshed and heated within their own bags to prevent cross contamination.  Not only did this make for piping hot bread but it alleviated any chance for any gluten to make its way in.  I had never seen such a product before so this was definitely a welcome first for me.

Now please enjoy what is definitely a first on my site — a slider dedicated to gluten-free bread. You’re welcome!


 
The menu offers a range of options from light bites and salads to more substantial and hearty main course options.  The first night I had the Risotto Aquarello à la chlorophylle de roquette, copeaux de parmesan et huile de truffe blanche (Rocket risotto with Parmesan sprinkles and white truffle oil). This was truly amazing and took risotto to the next level. The subtle spiciness of the arugula paired with the saltiness of the Parmesan cheese played perfectly together. Add a bit of white truffle oil and this dish became one of the finest risottos I have ever come across in all my travels.

My other half opted for the B.B. Burger, 180 grs burger de bœuf, vieux cheddar, sauce MJC et pommes frites (B.B. Burger, ground beef burger, matured cheddar cheese, MJC sauce and French fries). The burgers are not gluten-free as they contain bread crumbs but when this arrived at the table I was truly jealous. It arrived on a wood tree trunk cutout and the burger was sandwiched between a stunning large sesame seed bun and topped with all the standard accoutrements — including crispy French fries served in a silver cup. This was a large burger (as you can see in some of the images below) which my other half raved about (and the perfect replacement for the Harry’s Bar burger which had become a staple during our visits). It was definitely worth the $34 price tag.

For dessert I had the Meringues et fruits rouges, crème double (Meringue, red berries and double cream from Gruyère). This was a mixture of perfectly ripe red berries with crisp meringue sticks and double cream — I mean need I say more?

On our second visit to the restaurant I had something that caught my eye on the menu on our first visit the Filet de veau rôti à basse température, purée de céleri et pomme de terre, pleurotes du panicot, jus simple (Roasted veal fillet with celeriac and potato puree, oyster mushrooms and gravy). This was an absolutely stunning dish. Perfectly medium veal sitting atop a celeriac and potato mash complemented with the woodsiness of the oyster mushrooms and wait for it…shaving of what had to be the thickest slices of black truffle that I have ever seen. Everything about this dish was absolute perfection.

My other half opted for the Coquelet mariné façon Quincy Jones, servi avec pommes gaufrettes (Spring chicken marinated à la Quincy Jones served with potato wafers). This dish was not only delicious (I would have it on our third visit) but beautifully presented with a copper pot of sauce (that I would later find out was gluten-free) in the center flanked by pieces of the half chicken with crispy thin cut waffle potatoes, beet rings, tomatoes, radishes, and edible flowers.

Our third visit had me trying the chicken and my other half enjoying the burger again. He only eats fries once a year and the perfect fries coupled with an amazing burger it just too difficult for him to turn down.

Our fourth and final visit has us start with the Salade de cervelas comme à Caux (Cervelas sausage and potato salad). The presentation on this dish was another stunner and while the taste was quite good it was a bit on the boring side from a flavor perspective. The vinaigrette dressing adding a nice balanced acidic kick to the subtle earthy flavor of the purple potatoes that were paired with multi-colored tomatoes, cheese, and garnished with edible flowers. The sausage itself was on the mild side and just not my cup of tea. The dish was good but I would likely not order it again.

For my main course I had the risotto once again and unfortunately it was a bit under-cooked this time which was disappointing as the first time it was utter perfection. When I brought it to the attention of the waiter he relayed it to the chef and his response was that was they way he cooked it and next time I should request it a bit more done. Now here is where I take issue. I have been eating risotto since I was in a high-chair. My parents are Italian and the concept of al dente was ingrained into my being from a very young age. I agree that risotto should be on the al dente side but there is a difference between al dente and under-cooked — this was under-cooked.

My other half of course had the burger once again — creature of habit is putting it mildly. When it came time for dessert I wanted ice cream and ordered what I thought was a safe option — vanilla. Our waiter quickly returned and told me that it was not gluten-free. I am thinking it was likely a flavoring but it was nice that they were looking out for me. A second flavor was also nixed due to it not being gluten-free but I truly appreciate being told “no” because no ice cream in the world would be worth the reaction I would suffer. I think I eventually landed on a sorbet that was given the green light.


 

The majority of our meals at the Monterux Jazz Café were perfect and with just one main course that left something to be desired I would definitely return during our next visit. I only wish that the creativity of the dishes was reflected in how they were presented. While all were quite appealing to the eye the garnishes seemed to be the same for every dish we ordered. Would you likely notice if you ate there once? No. But after four visits where each dish looked remarkably similar in presentation it becomes quite clear.

Montreux Jazz Café
Avenue Claude Nobs 2
CH – 1820 Montreux
+41 21 962 13 00

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