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L'Hotel de Ville - meal reports under Chef Franck Giovannini

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Andreas Caminada is likely to be the most popular chef in Switzerland at the moment. However, talking about the ‘best’ & most respectable restaurant in the land of milk and honey, L’Hotel de Ville in Crissier (located not too far from Lausanne) must be the one. Ever since Fredy Girardet opened this establishment in early 70’s, it quickly rose to be one of the finest French restaurants outside France. Since then, l’hotel de ville pretty much has held the Michelin’s 3-star every single year with relative ease.

 

I had my first meal here (dinner) in 2008 when Philippe Rochat was the chef-patron. Then, in Oct last year, I had another opportunity to have a memorable meal but this time was for lunch. L’Hotel de Ville was one of those restaurants that had lots of resources: excluding desserts, there were about 30 different dishes; the front + kitchen staffs were approximately 50 people (about 1:1 ratio for staff vs guest). For those who love game (gibier) menu, this restaurant was possibly THE place to be for both quality and variety. My maître d’ was kind and flexible that due to some time constraint, he allowed me to design my own tasting menu from scratch.

 

My favorite dishes were:

-Perfectly poached egg hidden under the al dente spaghetti dome served with Alba truffle and creamy + delicious sauce (the signature dish of Chef Rochat)

-Local tenderloin beef was carefully grilled resulting in tender, pink & flavorful meat while the ‘outside’ was a bit crisp and salty. In addition, it was accompanied by the smooth green peppercorn sauce and some vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini

I had lievre a la royale last time and was curious to see what it would look like nearly a decade later … it did not disappoint. The hare confit was slowly cooked for 6 hours until the meat became soft. It was covered by dried mushroom powder and served with delicious, gamey yet not overly powerful sauce – suitable to my taste. You’re welcome to check the rest of the dishes from the link below

 

The dining room design was elegant and classy; the space between tables was generous. During a sunny day, the natural light was very pleasant. There were about 25 people enjoying lunch and many of them ordering the ‘big’ degustation menu. The service was polished and friendly; many staffs were capable of assisting different tables. Chef Franck Giovannini came to the dining room near the end of the meal and greeted each table. I was invited to visit the kitchen; there was a chef’s table inside and the kitchen was huge and spotless.

 

L’hotel de ville, once again, proved that they’re more than capable of performing at high levels consistently. The menu changes every season and every year, diners could expect new dishes are constantly added. My good friend said that the restaurant was also very kind to a young child; they had enough resources to tailor a special and simpler menu for her daughter. This was a special institution indeed that could cater to different needs to different guests yet the quality of the food was never compromised. Generally, I liked this meal more (more “authentic”) than my previous one as under Chef Rochat. I found that the dishes in my tasting menu had too many of Asian’s influence, especially the Thai flavors.

 

More detailed review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2018/02/lhotel-de-ville-franck-giovannini.html

Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157663386363357

 

Rochat’s time - https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipOLjbBO0eHAHqytELg4ziytf-skcsEphtjYGL5SoYdK-HxUhH-c9yJPWyWD9Ob9EQ?key=czZudmdHTUZSOURCUVZ1Rk83Nkd6cXpLS2tMN1FR

 

 

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In addition to Cheval Blanc, I also had the opportunity to return to Restaurant Crissier this early Jan. Had the logistic part not been challenging, I would’ve loved to dine again at Andreas Caminada’s castle too. One significant change I noticed at l’Hotel the Ville was that I could see the big name of Franck Giovannini at the entrance. Apparently sometimes in (late) 2018, Chef Giovannini bought out the shares of Mrs. Brigitte Violier – consistent with the tradition of this restaurant that the executive chef would be one of the main shareholders / owners as well.

 

I was pleased that my travel schedules this time allowed me to stay over at Lausanne, hence I had sufficient time to enjoy the full menu of Chef Giovannini’s Winter creations. Although the head chef himself was not present that evening, the kitchen brigade was capable of executing the dishes on the menu with high precision. Some of the highlights from this meal were:

 

-high quality and juicy Oleron’s lukewarm oysters with crisp leeks & celery, butter champagne sauce and nutty caviar

-(pulled) pig’s trotters meat and ris de veau hidden inside the “crepine egg” was wonderfully complemented by glazed with Porto + Madeira and black truffle sauce. The leeks would reduce any intense taste while the fragrant potato enhanced the dish. Mixed everything together and it was truly delicious - a perfectly executed French classic

These 2 dishes were considered as the signature dishes of the restaurant; the pork was Philippe Rochat’s creation which would always be available every Winter.

 

For the more ‘modern’ dishes, I liked the seafood here:

-plump and sweet scallop was lightly seared; it’s served with delicious shells tasty juice + Chasselas wine. Then, there’s small amount of luxurious caviar on the side

-superb and fatty of caramelized wild Turbot’s back … glistening and well-seasoned flesh perfectly absorbed the delicious (a bit salty & tart) sauce. The salsify had an enjoyable firm texture - a fantastic dish!

I will let readers found out the rest of the dishes / details from the links below

 

Service was spot on and well-orchestrated. Dirty napkin was changed, water was regularly re-filled, staffs had detailed knowledge about pretty much every dish. The dining room’s décor did not change … elegant and ‘clean’ a la Swiss and embellished by a few modern paintings. Kids were also welcomed even during dinner. While Cheval Blanc may still be my favorite restaurant in Switzerland, I think this dinner (strictly for food only perspective) might be the best I’ve ever had in this country … by a small margin difference. Both the food’s quality and quantity at restaurant Crissier were incredible

 

Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157709695778217

More detailed review: https://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.com/2019/07/lhotel-de-ville-franck-giovannini-2nd.html

 

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