work eat my way through the restaurants of La Chapelle d’Abondance in the Rhône-Alpes I pay a visit to Le Fer Rouge — which was so good I ended up eating there three times while in town.
For a small town there is no shortage of places to eat in La Chapelle d’Abondance but Le Fer Rouge is a real standout — not only for its great food but also the service and ambiance are top-notch. The manager is absolutely amazing and you feel as though you are eating with friends — she took such good care of all of us each time we visited. Not to mention she was extremely helpful in helping me to navigate the menu to find options that were gluten-free. There is bar and lounge area on the first floor and the restaurant seating is located on the second floor which also houses brewing vats since it also functions as a micro-brewery. Both the interior and exterior are a mix of classic and quirky. Think ski lift and gondola cabin seating outside and “flaming” red sconces and red hues in the dining room — a nod to the building’s history as an iron works and hence the moniker Le Fer Rouge.
The menu is a mix of regional specialties and classic dishes along with some more unique items including a range of curries and BBQ. Now, typically when I see such a range of options I am a bit hesitant since I often wonder if a restaurant is reaching too far. In the case of Le Fer Rouge, this could not be further from the truth as over the course of our visits (including those with friends) we sampled a range of options ranging from traditional to curries to BBQ and each meal was truly outstanding. While I did not have a curry, those that did raved about how delicious they were — and it is the only place in the area to actually get an authentic curry.
On my first visit I started with their house salad (which I am pretty sure is also an entrée since the portion is, as I was warned quite large). It was also quite possibly the most complex salad I have ever had. The salad had several distinct flavor profiles that were sectioned out — so as you ate you would be treated to a shifting profile that was perfectly balanced. I have no clue how they were able to achieve this as it was extremely complex but there was also the unconventional use of chestnuts and two types of melon that made this truly unique. When the plate first arrived I took a look and thought this how could this possibly work? Alas, it was absolute perfection.
For my main course I opted for La Tartiflette, a regional specialty of the Savoie region of the French Alps that is made with potatoes, cheese, bacon and onions. It is essentially a wonderfully gooey blend of cheese and potatoes that is served with a selection of dried meats, sausage and pickles. It did not disappoint and was absolutely delicious incorporating the famous local raw milk Abondance cheese.
On my second visit I once again had the salad and I decided to give their Travers de Porc (barbeque pork ribs) a try. It was served with a fresh grilled cob of corn and was absolutely delicious. The pork was perfectly tender and the house made barbeque sauce was flavorful but not overpowering and the perfect complement to pork. I also loved that it was served with a small finger bowl and tiny pill-like looking accompaniment that was actually a washcloth that was activated when dropped into the water. So much better than a pre-packaged wet-wipe. I actually had room for dessert and opted for the strawberry kiwi soup — not overly sweet and the perfect finish to a lovely meal.
For the final visit I of course had the salad again but opted to really go for it and add two bacon-wrapped pieces of goat cheese to the mix. It did not disappoint and the goat cheese option is actually two different version typically, but one is in patry so not gluten-free so I doubled-up on the bacon — tough choice.
I was in the mood for beef for my main and over the course of our visits both my husband and some of our friends had the Pavé de Boeuf (a steak cut from the eye or heart of the rump that is very tender) and served on a clay platter with a flame burning underneath so that as you cut it you can heat it to your preferred temperature. There was a selection of sauces available to accompany the steak and I landed on the shallot sauce which was, of course, delicious and the perfect pairing. Dessert this evening was something that caught my eye on a previous visit — the frozen chocolate mousse. I mean how could I say no? It was truly unique and had a mild sweet chocolate flavor that was paired with a selection of fresh berries adding an additional layer of sweetness with just a hint of tartness. it was chocolate perfection and a must-try if you visit.
Le Fer Rouge
74360 La Chapelle-d’Abondance, France
Phone: +33 4 50 73 50 29