Where you select to dine with your beloved on Valentine’s Day in Lausanne depends on the stage of your relationship (and pocket book). Let’s follow the beginnings of a young romance and their dining habits which correspond to the Valentine’s Day options that you may consider when visiting this delightful city on the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland.
Year One: A Cheap Date
It was Valentine ’s Day. So what? Just another day of classes and cramming for exams in the library after lunch. But then she saw him across a crowded room. Crowded indeed, it was the giant cafeteria, l’Unithèque in the crescent-shaped building at the University of Lausanne. We all affectionately call it “La Banane” (the banana). He caught her eye. Should she go sit at his table? There are 11’500 students at this school why did she notice him? Needless to say, this would be their first Valentine’s Day meal together, and the cheapest one ever which they each paid for themselves with their student cards ($9 each student, $11.50 for visitors).
“La Banane”, University of Lausanne Cafeteria (a detail). Image courtesy of UNIL
They both had chosen Menu n°1 with the Potage de pommes de terre, Filet de saumon meunière, du riz, légumes and Macédoine de fruits (potatoe soup, salmon filets meuniere with riz, vegetables and fruit salad . How romantic! It must be a sign. It was simply meant to be.
“La Banane”, somewhat isolated from the city center! Image courtesy of UNIL
Year Two: A Real Steal
The following year to celebrate their Valentine’s Day meeting and subsequent blossoming relationship, they reserved a table for two at the Restaurant de Dorigny, the closest thing to gastronomy and romantic atmosphere on the university campus. Superb décor (for a university) with excellent gourmet cuisine with Italian specialties and available at half the price of eating in the city!
The Restaurant de Dorigny interior: image courtesy of The Restaurant de Dorigny.
Being such a special day as well as the anniversary of their first meeting they splurged and had the full menu for $29 instead of the usual plate du jour at $16, the same prices for students as for visitors. Like last year, they both selected the same menu: Potage du chalet, Ballotine de poulet florentine, Riz créole, Courgettes sautées, Salade, and crème brulée (rolled chicken with spinach, Creole rice, sautéed squash, green salad and custard pudding).
Year Three: A Place to Go Back To
Now that they have graduated and she is a medical intern at the university hospital and he is an intern for a law firm, they decided to dine at “their place” for this Valentine’s Day. That relaxed, friendly, very traditional Swiss café of intelligentsia La Café Romande is where they have spent many of their after-work evenings together.
La Café Romande, a local Lausanoise institution. Image courtesy of La Café Romande
But for this romantic evening, instead of a big table with their pals in the middle of the usually somewhat noisy gathering of locals, they opted for a romantic little corner table and had their usual fondue of half gruyere and half Vacherin fribourgeois cheese (at $ 22 per person) along with a carafe of Swiss wine ($11.70) made by local winemakers in the medieval village of Grandvaux, A UNESCO World Heritage Site which is just down the lake road from Lausanne.
Year Four: Charm and Romance with a View
They had been married for 6 months now and they were both working at professional levels in their respective careers. They wanted something especially romantic for a restaurant in which to celebrate their Valentine’s Day meeting. Filled with local village charm and panoramic views of Lake Geneva that are truly inspirational the Relais de La Poste was their very first choice.
Panoramic view from the Relais-de-la-Poste. Image courtesy of Relais-de-la-Poste
Located up on a hill in Grandvaux in the midst of the vineyards of Lavaux, this magical place, so friendly and welcoming has an excellent selection menu and wine cellar from which to choose. Yes, you are right, they both ordered the same meal: Poêlée de champignons et légumes primeurs, Magret de canard aux baies rouges et purée de pommes fruit, Les crêpes Suzette flambées au Grand Marnier et sa glace au Grand Marnier (Sautéed mushrooms and fresh vegtables, Magret Moulard duck breast with red berries and apple purée, crêpes Suzette flambées with Grand Marnier liquor and ice cream, à la carte $90 instead of fixed menus at $58 or $78) To accompany their romantic dinner they had a carafe of the restaurant’s vineyard of the month which was Louis Fonjallaz Epesses for $15 made from grape vines that that they could see from their table.
The charming Relais-de-la-Poste in Grandvaux.. Image courtesy of Relais-de-la-Poste
Year Five: The Big Splurge
He had been offered a position of partner in the law firm and she had opened a private practice with another doctor. There was much to celebrate for this year’s Valentine’s Day dinner and only the best would do. It had to have stars…Michelin stars, so they chose Le Pont de Brent in a village with the same name tucked away in the high plateau northeast of Lausanne in the vineyards above Vevey and Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva and the Swiss and French Alps. Being such a famous and hard to get into world renowned restaurant, they book months in advance for this very special romantic occasion and to be assured of a window table to share the amazing view together.
View from Le Pont de Brent. Image courtesy of Restaurant Le Pont de Brent
I don’t have to tell that they both selected the same menu called the Discover of the Pont de Brent for $290 per person: papillote de Foie gras de canard au verjus et haricots « risina», Le homard breton à l’avocat et citrons confits, La noix de coquille St-Jacques aux pommes vertes et endives braisées, Le feuilleté de cuisses de grenouilles aux truffes noires du Périgord et cerfeuil tubéreux, Le tournedos de lotte «petit bateau» Minestrone de coquillages, L’épaule d’agneau de lait confite, Le Plateau de fromages frais et affinés du Pays, «Fraîcheur d’agrumes», Le soufflé chaud au chocolat (Foie gras baked together with small white beans spashed with green grape juise, Breton lobster with avocado and lemon perserves, St. Jacques scallops with green apples and braised endives, pastry covered frogs’ leggs with black truffles from the Péirogrd in France and with sprigs of chervil, Small rolls of burbot fish, seafood Minestrone, lamb shoulder with sweet milk, Swiss cheese cart selection, sorbet to refresh the palate, hot Swiss chocolate soufflé).
Swiss chocolate, a work of art. Image courtesy of Le-Pont-de-Brent
For their aperitif they started with a bubbly Ruinart Brut Rosé, then the sommelier recommended a white Chablais Vaudois, Domaine de la Pierre Latine, Ph. Gex 2009, followed by a red Lavaux, St―Saphorin, Terra Matter, Cave Testuz 2008 ($137 total).
After their exquisite dining experienced, they strolled along the ancient streets of the village looking at the stars which are not as clearly visible as in the city as they are here and they thought about their Valentine’s Day meeting at the university cafeteria and discussed where they might go next Valentine’s Day….
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