This, the second restaurant of Anne Sophie Pic, opened in 2009, headed up by chef Guillaume Raineix. It gained two Michelin stars in the 2010 guide, which it has retained since. It is located on the ground floor of the very grand Beau Rivage Palace hotel, with tables on the terrace overlooking lake Geneva in suitable weather. Anne Sophie Pic was here in person at the lunch service.
The dining room seats up to 53 guests, or around 40 on the terrace in good weather. They use either the room or the terrace, but not both, in order to keep up the quality of the food and service. That kind of approach will never catch on in central London. At service today there were 14 chefs in the kitchen. Tasting menus were available at CHF 260 (£172) and CHF 350 (£232), and there was a cheap set lunch at CHF 85 (£56) in addition to the a la carte. I opted for the shorter tasting menu.
The wine list has roughly 1,000 labels, lengthy on the regions of France but also with reasonable coverage of Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Germany and some New World countries. Example wines were Torres Fransola Sauvignon Blanc at CHF 80 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around CHF 30, Antinori Cervaro Della Sala 2010 at CHF 150 compared to a retail price of CHF 50, and Glaetzer Shiraz 2004 at a chunky CHF 225 for a wine that will set you back about CHF 50 in a shop. Higher up the list some of the markups are kinder, with Lafite 1994 at CHF 870 being only marginally above its retail price.
A trio of nibbles comprised a green pea mousse with good flavour, silky and rich foie gras and cherry, and, rather less successful, an asparagus "cake", whose texture was a little strange but certainly tasted of asparagus (17/20 average). Four different breads were offered, all made from scratch in the kitchen. Baguette had excellent texture with a lovely crust, and also good were ciabatta, sourdough and a seed roll (18/20 bread). These were served with Echere butter.
Duck foie gras creme brûlée was topped with grapefruit mousse, an unusual and interesting idea. The liver flavour was fairly restrained but the texture lovely, the grapefruit providing the acidity to balance the richness of the foie gras (18/20).
"Berlingot" cheese fondue ravioli is named after the pyramid shape of the ravioli rather than the candy, the fondue inside the green pasta parcels, alongside Green Zebra tomatoes and green tomato consommé, flavoured with sweet woodruff and fresh verbena. The latter gave a pleasing citrus acidity, the overall effect being a fresh dish, the cheese not too rich (18/20).
Langoustine was seared a la plancha, served with celery, a light green apple broth flavoured with cinnamon leaf and anise. The pair of langoustines were precisely cooked and had good, sweet flavour, the sauce was pleasant and a logical pairing for the shellfish, the celery arguably not adding that much to the dish (17/20). Turbot was pan-seared and served with peas and broad beans with a sauce of basil and jasmine. The fish was carefully cooked, the sauce light but for me slightly lacking in depth of flavour (17/20).
Challons duck was roasted and served with crapaudine beetroot confit with fur bud, raspberries filled with barberries and raspberry chutney, and a drizzle of cooking juice reduction. The duck was very good and nicely cooked, the barberries bringing nice acidity, but the sauce had limited flavour and there was not much of it, possibly a limitation of the plate shape, which made it difficult to accommodate much sauce. Ms Pic now favours a lighter sauce style than the traditional sauces seen as nearby Hotel de Ville, but for me the contrast of approaches made it all the more apparent just how intense the sauces at Hotel de Ville are, and how much I prefer these deep, rich sauces to the lighter, thinner style served here (16/20).
The cheese board had a mix of French and Swiss cheeses including a 35-month aged gruyere, and a soft cheese called Tamie that resembled St Nectaire. Pre dessert was a blackcurrant sorbet with a couils of raspberry, blackcurrant and coffee. This was lovey, rich with velvety texture and deep fruit flavour, the coffee subtle and avoiding bitterness (18/20).
A dessert of rhubarb, coffee and whisky was a variant of tiramisu, light marscapone with Guatemalan coffee, rhubarb sorbet and caramel with a Japanese whisky called Nikka Taketsuru. This had enjoyably rich coffee flavour, the rhubarb bringing freshness to the dish (18/20). Coffee was very good, served with a small tray of well-made petit fours including a nice chocolate tart.
Service was excellent, attentive and efficient. The bill came to CHF 289 (£193) for one person, with just water to drink. With a modest wine to share, a typical bill might be £230 a head. There was, of course, the cheap lunch available for those who wanted to eat here for less. Certainly this version of Ann Sophie Pic's cooking, while not in the same league as the original in Valence, was very good indeed. Ingredients were very good and technique hard to fault. For me the lighter saucing style that Ms Pic seems now to favour is less to my taste, but this is a conscious decision on her part, and not an issue of technique. What I would observe is that this restaurant is barely twenty minutes away from Crissier, and its prices are essentially the same as the superb three star Hotel de Ville.