We’d spent a little while wandering around Lutry, which has pretty cobbled streets, wrought-iron signs, lots of tea rooms and a fine promenade along the lake front. After a bit of walking along, we were hungry enough for lunch, so chose one of the many cafés along the lakefront. We soon realised that finding a place to eat was going to be a lot tougher than we’d imagined: every café was either already full or required reservations; others were either not interesting or too expensive. Finally, tucked away in a lane, just a little off the lakeshore, we found a pretty little restaurant with a sturdy grapevine growing so thick over the name of the restaurant that it took some effort to read it: the Restaurant du Leman. Two large windows looked out onto the street, and a clutch of tables, all covered with cheerful orange-and-yellow printed tablecloths, had been placed outside along with black plastic chairs. The window boxes were bursting with smiling pansies, and the general air was one of welcome.
Restaurant du Leman is obviously not a tourist-oriented restaurant: the menu, unlike most we saw in Switzerland, is only in French, and even the waitresses didn’t speak English. Fortunately, Tarun and I can both understand enough French (especially when it comes to food) to know what we’re ordering, and with a little bit of to and fro, we managed to place our orders easily. Our drinks—a half bottle of a very pleasant Chardonnnay, white and crisp—arrived shortly, followed soon after by our food.
Since the restaurant specialises in fish dishes, both of us had ordered fish. Tarun’s was a perche à la Provençe, a helping of tiny fillets of perch in one of the best tomato sauces I’ve ever had. I steer clear of tomato-based sauces as a rule, because the sour-sweet flavour of tomatoes is often overpowering. This one was perfect: not too sweet, not too sour, and in just the correct quantity to let the flavour of the fish shine through. On the side, Tarun got fries (steamed rice or potatoes—either boiled or as fries—were the options along with each main course). Also with the fish came a helping of chopped and sautéed vegetables: delicious.
I got the same vegetables with my main course, plus steamed rice. The star of the meal, however, was the filet de loup de mer au fenouil that I’d ordered. This consisted of two firm and very fresh fillets of sea bass, pan-fried in olive oil with fennel seeds and salt, till the skin was crisp and the fish just so. It was one of the most beautifully simple dishes I’ve ever eaten, and Tarun—after begging for a forkful—wished he’d ordered it too, even though the perch was very good.
This proved to be our most expensive meal in Switzerland: CHF108, including a CHF5 tip. But the food had been so good, we didn’t mind too much. I would, however, have liked the fish to have been a more sizeable portion: for both Tarun and I, the rice or potatoes, and the bread, ended up comprising most of the meal.
And yes: interestingly enough, alongside the distinctly French dishes, there’s also a Peruvian menu. We didn’t explore that, but I wonder how authentic it would be, tucked away in Lutry!
New Delhi, India
July 14, 2009
From journal Exploring Lausanne