15 Dec Gourmet Val d'Isere - where to lunch in Espace Killy
Fine dining in Espace Killy
I have always been amazed that the mountains hold such fine dining experiences. Go to the coast and expect glorious platters of seafood, so fresh you can almost taste the seaweed, an ingredient that is now of course as sought after as oysters in the middle of the desert.
But the mountains, what do they hold? Golden Eagles? Goats? Marmots – oh please!
And yet a restaurant at 2,550m above sea level ensconced in snow is able to deliver a gastronomic feast that delights the palette as well as any Parisian bistro. At the Tete de Solaise expect butternut squash veloute with candied sweet chestnuts and a lardon foam, grilled languoustine salad or steak tartare a l'italienne. Nonetheless, the only ‘stars' to note are those that fill the skies at the end of an early season's ski.
Michelin Star Restaurants in Val d'Isere
If chasing Michelin stars is really where your heart lies, Val d'Isere has two establishments to choose from. L'Atelier d'Edmond in Le Fornet, which now boasts an impressive two stars and La Table de L'Ours in Val d'Isere. A quick glance at Trip Advisor and the rave reviews of L'Atelier include ‘Worth every penny', ‘One of the best ever' and ‘Just superb all round' with an average of 4.5 / 5 stars. With menu delights such as ‘garden of crayfish with tomatoes, bouillon infused with sweet woodruff' and ‘lamb saddle “noisette” from Tarentaise, wild thyme flavour, cake of potatoes and ewe cheese from the Bergerie Saint Pierre', I'm salivating at the thought.
But I have to confess, after a thigh burning, piste pounding session in the morning, amuses bouches, palette cleansers, sea urchin foams and delicate patisseries don't quite hit the stomach rumbling spot. Not in a way that restaurants called ‘the big bear' or ‘cow hide' do.
Burgers and bears
You may be sitting on hay bales (which I rather like) but the food and service is exceptional. Peau de vache (cow hide) does gourmet burgers like no other and the cow pat dessert won't win points for naming finesse, but in taste, it's to die for. And when you think burgers, don't limit your imagination to beef, there's lobster, venison, white fish and so on.
Meanwhile, La Grande Ourse (big bear) is actually one of the oldest and most recognisable fixtures in Val d'Isere. A huge white chalet at the bottom of the Solaise / Bellevarde, it is known for classic French cuisine and the steak is always good: tartare, au poivre or a simple entrecote.
Signpost: Le Signal
Nonetheless, on a chilly day, there is simply no other culinary destination than Le Signal. At the top of Le Fornet lift, it's nothing to look at the from the outside, but inside picture a roaring log fire and toasty ambiance while you dine on creamy, warming savoyarde fare – tartiflette or pot au feu, washed down with a nip of genepy to set you on your way. Or pop upstairs for the full refined dining experience where the starter of the day, soft boiled egg, duxelle of mushrooms and chorizo foam, meets the delicious main that is pan fried scallops served on a bed of black risotto and a selection of ‘croquant' vegetables. It's no surprise that they secured ‘Best Mountain Restaurant' at the World Snow Awards in 2015.
Are you feeling fruity?
A browse around gourmet Val d'Isere would not be complete without mention of La Fruitiere. Attached to the celebrated Folie Douce, La Fruitiere promises delicious Savoyard delicacies with a touch of class. Its white washed walls, zinc exposed pipework and strategically placed ‘dairy' fittings exude a style that is lacking elsewhere, while its partner La Folie Douce adds a distinctive ambiance that really seals the gourmet experience, backed by an extensive wine list. It's a firm favourite of our guests but it is fair to say, it has good weeks and bad weeks. Don't we all.
At the end of the day, it's back to the chalet and time to relax. Fortunately, our hand picked team of personal chefs who've been quizzed, grilled and road tested to within an inch of their culinary lives, do ‘gourmet' with their eyes closed. And while we endlessly posture on what is and what isn't ‘gourmet', our personal approach with tailored menus to the personal tastes of every guest, means you call the shots.