Whenever I am craving for a cosy place with tasty food and a relaxed atmosphere while in Lausanne, Brasserie de Montbenon is one of the first places that come to mind. Its location with the gorgeous view of the lake and the aristocratic building itself comes as an added bonus.
It’s like entering an impressive theatre venue, and the current owners have done a fantastic job to combine the old with the modern. The huge glass windows with the absolutely stunning views, the cosy corner with the couch and the newspapers, the deck chairs at the terrace where I would happily spend my whole day when the sun is out and the lively buzz make for a pleasurable dining experience, every single time. Plus, the menu offers a well-curated list of dishes which change often and delicious desserts. My personal favourites so far have been the chicken “cordon-bleu”, the fish dishes, the dark chocolate tart with coconut artisanal ice cream and the profiteroles with ice cream topped with hot chocolate sauce. Next time around, I want to try their Café gourmand «Gargantua» which is coffee served with various mini desserts.
The menu for drinks is also diverse offering a big variety of Swiss and international wines, homemade syrups, kombucha, artisanal juices, lemonades and beers, but also cocktails with or without alcohol.
Having dined here several times and also enjoyed the spectacular terrace for drinks on many occasions, I confess that this is hands down one of the best spots around town.
The team and its vision
The team behind Brasserie de Montbenon is comprised of 4 partners: “Anne and Christophe, who previously opened the Café de Grancy (2004) and Café Saint Pierre (2009) and were also the founders of the For Noise Festival (a rock open-air event from 1997 to 2016), François Grognuz who used to be Café de Grancy’s chef and myself, we joined when the opportunity showed up to renew and rule this amazing place” says co-founder Renaud Meichtry, who was working in the music business before.
Brasserie de Montbenon’s team had the vision to propose popular cuisine, affordable yet with high standards when it comes to product quality and origin, more festive nights (they regularly organize events such as “dinner & show”, wine or whisky tastings, cards tournaments and garden parties in the park), and also to host some local artists such as photographers and musicians.
“We wanted to give the place back to Lausanne’s people, because the previous restaurant, “Grand Café”, used to be a mythical venue back in the 90’s, then slowly decayed to be a deserted, and very often privatized, restaurant” adds Renaud Meichtry.
The menu consists of traditional dishes such as cordon bleu and vol-au-vent but also some that have been categorized as old-fashioned such as coq au vin, kidneys and boeuf bourguignon. François Grognuz, the chef, has a cooking style that is both very contemporary and traditional and they use as much as possible products from local producers such as La Panetière in Lausanne for the bread, the butchery shop of Sévery for the sausage with cabbage, the Prieur, Alfavin or Vincent Graenicher’s wine cellars for the wines, Balzac in Morges for the chocolate and Cuendet family for the market vegetables.
During our chat, I ask Renaud what food means to him. “Food means pleasure, but also heritage. At the Brasserie, one of my favourites (and the best-seller!) is the chicken “cordon-bleu” – which has previously become in my mind a synonym of frozen junk food… And ours is tasty and mellow – we even do the breadcrumbs ourselves!” Renaud replies.
Always intriguing, the events at Brasserie are well worth a prominent place at your monthly calendar. They can include anything from a whisky & salmon pairing, burlesque shows & dinner while their silent parties on the terrace are really popular. On their website, you can find the latest events they are organizing.
“The “Casino”, which interestingly has never been a gambling venue, was built in 1908 as a place to entertain the tourists, and still belongs to the City. Through the century it was mostly a restaurant and a music venue which almost systematically went bankrupt. In the early 2010’s the former owner decided to move elsewhere, and the City of Lausanne called for applications. We were just very lucky to win the competition!” Renaud says.
More foodie experiences in the region
Renaud’s favourite foodie experiences in Lausanne and the region include good Italian food at Ristorante St-Paul and Amici, the contemporary, “North-inspired”, semi-gastronomic restaurant “Bottle brothers” and also Abbaye de Montheron which is “an amazing place, a bit further in the countryside”.
Brasserie de Montbenon
Allée Ernest Ansermet 3
Have you been to Brasserie de Montbenon? What’s your favourite dish to order and which is your favourite dessert? Which is your favourite restaurant with a view around town? Let me know in the comments below!