A great, family-friendly spot for lunch, coffee and good vibes.
There are a few places in Lausanne where I could spend my entire day happily. Culture Café is probably the no. 1 on this list of mine. First of all, it’s the place where I had a decent cappuccino for the first time in this city and made me jump up and down from joy. Hurray!
Then, it’s inside FNAC, which means it is surrounded by books and stationery. Its vibe is so relaxing that it just makes you feel good no matter if you are a digital nomad looking for somewhere nice to work for a few hours, meeting friends for lunch or looking for an indoor place to spend some time with your kids.
Did I mention they have one of the cutest kids corner in the entire city? Yes, they do! But they also have homemade pastries, which always smell heavenly and a healthy lunch menu which has proved to be very popular -their soups is one of my favorites- so reservation is a must if you want to try it out, especially on a Saturday.
We had a chat with Cyril Musy, the person who created this unique place and talked about food and coffee but also about his background, his philosophy, and his dream team. Happy reading!
1. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?
I am Cyril Musy, the founder of Culture Café in Lausanne’s FNAC. I have been involved in the world of gastronomy and restaurants for 15 years. My training is more oriented towards management and marketing than to cooking and service.
At first I got involved with wine trading which gave me access to bistros and restaurants in Paris. Then I published free press magazines on wine and gastronomy, which were distributed to my restaurant clients. Quickly I felt a greater affinity for journalism than for selling wines. So I totally reoriented myself towards the media and the culinary communication until I finally got involved in the culinary events. I was able to mingle and work with many of the contemporary great chefs. Gradually I went from spectator to actor in the kitchen. Until the day when I’ll pass entirely on the other side of the mirror.
2.When and how did you decide to take over Culture Café in FNAC?
Taking over the FNAC Café was both an opportunity and a necessity. This Café was closed for two years, the director of the FNAC in Lausanne did not necessarily want to revive it and he was even considering selling the furniture of the café. I quickly contacted him and proposed a project that I had in mind for a few months. A project for a “Coffee Bar” very similar to the coffee places with a “coffee expertise” that began to flourish in London, New York or Paris.
3.What is your vision for Culture Café? What is your main philosophy?
The restaurant should not become a dogmatic place with its prohibitions and sacred products; we wish to be a place for enlightened omnivores, listening to taste, pleasure and a global ethic.
4.What do you like most about this place?
We have managed to retain a lovely clientele that brings us a lot of pleasure.
5.Could you also introduce your team to us?
I believe that all continents are represented.
There are two people in the kitchen, the chef Jhovany who comes from Colombia and the kitchen assistant, Sassou, who comes from Togo.
Julie, from Marseille, is leading the team outside of the kitchen. Chikako, a new barista who comes from Japan recently joined our team. And occasionally, Léa, Charlène, Hélène and Mariem help us a few hours per week, mainly for lunch and on Saturdays.
6.Could you tell us a bit more about what you offer at Culture Café?
We have a fairly varied menu. We offer “all in one” dishes. There are no starters or main courses. It’s a contemporary “English plate”, except that the bowl has replaced the plate, as a nod to Asia and the world’s cuisines. Our cuisine draws on both the standards of vegetarian and “healthy” cuisine while offering the generosity of meaty flavors. Our cuisine is very flexible.
All our bowls offer two types of seeds, a starchy one (black rice vénéré type) and leguminous one (lentils, chickpeas etc), roasted vegetables (so much better than steamed ones). We avoid the common vegetables and we always add a little greenery, young sprouts and the likes. It has to be both beautiful and tasty. The vegetarian balls bowl is one of our most famous dishes.
All our pastries are homemade. For example, we offer Kouign Aman, a very buttery pastry. In our pastries, we use butter almost exclusively. With the revival of butter which is considered healthy again, we do not even have a bad conscience.
But we also have gluten-free desserts like our moelleux au chocolat (Molten chocolate cake), gluten-free and lactose-free cakes, which are also delicious.
7.Culture café was one of the first places in Lausanne serving a good cup of coffee. For you, what are the qualities of a good cup of coffee? What kind of coffee do you serve at the moment?
We were the first in Lausanne to talk about “specialty coffee” and it was not easy. The habits and certainties around coffee are deeply rooted in consumers. What taste should a coffee have? This discussion is greatly affected by each culture. Personally, I have always been a big consumer of coffee, but I rediscovered this universe and its richness thanks to specialty coffee.
The light roasting generally practiced on these higher quality coffees highlight the richness of the aromatic palette of the fruit, because coffee is above all a fruit! Unfortunately, Swiss do not like this kind of roastings and we had to tweak our offer. We are currently serving a blend of Arabica, Guatemala, Brazil and Ethiopia, roasted by Good Life Coffee.
8.What does food mean to you? What is your current favorite dish or ingredient?
Eating is life but life is not eating.
The place that it currently takes in our society scares me; it is probably a symptom of a society a little ignorant, nihilistic and lazy who seeks a new meaning to his existence. But this does not apply only to food … we must not forget that. So let’s not take it too seriously.
Often when I share a meal I do not pay too much attention to the taste of the dishes or wines served because it is the people around us who give the flavor to our meals. A good meal is a meal in good company. That said, if it can be shared around a good plate of seafood, it is even better!
9.Could you share with us some of your favorite foodie experiences in Lausanne and the region?
I once went to l’Hôtel de Ville de Crissier restaurant, it was impeccable but for coffee we could only have a capsule of Nespresso. What a nuisance, this was beyond my understanding!
Otherwise, for a more authentic experience, I really enjoyed Amici, I like this kind of Italian bistro where the food is fresh and quirky.
10.Are there any new plans for Culture café this year?
Yes, of course, we regularly introduce new dishes on our menu. Mainly, we want to create a take-away menu for spring and summer.
We will also have a new menu for breakfast and brunch soon.
Have you visited Culture Café in Lausanne? What’s your favorite pastry or lunch option on their menu? What’s your favorite cup of coffee? I would love to know!