Chemin de Chateauvieux

Chemin de Châteauvieux 16, Satigny, 1242, Switzerland

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Swiss chef Philippe Chevrier worked for a year at Hotel de Ville with Fredy Girardet in 1984, and before that at the Oasis at La Napoule with Louis Outhier. He was sous chef at a restaurant called Le Patio before he took over the kitchens of Chemin de Chateauvieux at the tender age of 27, becoming its owner two years later. The restaurant gained its first Michelin star in 1991, and a second in 1994. The building itself is on the outskirts of Satigny, a few miles inland from Lake Geneva, and dates from the 16th century, with a few rooms as well as the restaurant. The setting is pretty, next to a vineyard, and the place has a pleasantly rustic feel to it, with a stone floor and a huge fireplace in the main dining room. There is a pretty terrace and a few outside tables when the weather is warm. The place can seat around 60 diners at capacity. This being the continent, a small dog appeared from under the next table part way through the meal, though I did not notice any special concessionary doggie meals beng offered on the menu.

The cooking style is quite old-fashioned, and I do not mean by that classical, I mean old-fashioned. The presentation of dishes was straight out of the 1980s at times. We went à la carte, but a tasting menu was priced at CHF 290 (£193), the same price as the tasting menu at the nearby three star Michelin restaurant Hotel de Ville. The wine list was fairly extensive, strong on the main regions of France. Example wines were Rene Barbier Clos Mogadur Doca Priorat 2009 at CHF 110 for a wine that costs around CHF 56 in the high street, Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederick Emile 2005 at CHF 145 for a wine that retails at CHF 48, up to prestige wines like Haut Brion 1990 at CHF 1,295 for a wine that will set you back around CHF 732 in a shop. Bread was made from scratch and was very good, with nice baguettes and particularly well-made olive bread (17/20).

The meal began with some nibbles. A mussel in orange sauce with tomato and grapefruit jelly was pleasant if unexciting, octopus carpaccio with chickpea beignet had a capably cooked beignet and decent octopus, while a duck liver with oxtail jelly and sweetcorn froth mousse surprisingly lacked flavour (15/20). Further nibbles were melon soup with oyster (14/20) and a delicate filo pastry cornet with Mozzarella cheese and basil (17/20).

Red mullet with spider crab ravioli with a beurre blanc sauce flavoured with saffron was served in a crab shell with fennel, mange tout and a few mushrooms. The fish was cooked nicely, the beurre blanc was not too acidic and the ravioli had good texture (16/20). My tuna “cannelloni” was just rolled up marinated tuna served with melba toast. This was an odd dish, as the richness of the tuna needed acidic balance, not a rather pointless topping of avocado cream and a little smear of grapefruit jelly. This could, in principle, have provided some much needed acidity if there had been more of it. The bluefin tuna itself was fine, but this was essentially tuna and toast, with good but far from dazzling tuna; it seemed to me a poorly designed dish (13/20).

Better was wild salmon that had been steamed (CHF 92) with broad beans, peppers, peas with a little lime, chanterelles and courgette flower stuffed with salmon mousse, with a lemon verbena sauce. The salmon had good flavour and the vegetables were nicely cooked (16/20). My langoustines (CHF 96) were a major disappointment though, cooked a la plancha with broad beans in tarragon sauce. The langoustines were distinctly overcooked, and had not quite turned to mush but were well on that way, and the Norwegian langoustines were not of particularly high quality in terms of their flavour (11/20). For £61 I expected a great deal more than ineptly cooked, mediocre langoustines. The contrast between these and the perfect Brittany langoustines the night before at Hotel de Ville was enough to make a grown man weep, and I very nearly did. The waiter made no attempt to ask me whether I had enjoyed the dish when he cleared the plate; very wise.

The cheese board was good, with a wide selection of French and Swiss cheeses in prime condition, with more excellent bread, especially a lovely fruit and nut bread. Meringue with exotic fruits, mango sorbet, vanilla ice cream and whipped Chantilly cream was enjoyable, enlivened with a little ginger, the meringue well-made and the fruits ripe (16/20). Also pleasant enough was plum savarin soaked in plum spirit with a ring of plums, though the plums were surprisingly tasteless and the savarin a little on the soggy side (14/20). Coffee was not very good, rather watery and a little bitter, served with a few chocolates.

Service was generally reasonable, though a little sloppy by two Michelin star standards, with topping up erratic, and one waitress rather brusque. The bill came to CHF 572 for two (£190 per head) for lunch with no alcohol, just mineral water at CHF 8 for tiny little bottles of Evian. This was almost as expensive as the meal we ate the night before at Hotel de Ville, and was not remotely in the same league as it. Objectively this was mostly solid if old-fashioned cooking, but the value for money factor here is dismal. It is baffling to me that it gets two Michelin stars at the time of writing.

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