Schloss Schauenstein has an imposing entrance up a steep flight of steps, the building standing in splendid isolation in the little mountain village of Furstenau. There is an attractive terrace where you can have a drink and canapés in fine weather, looking out over the impressive mountain scenery.
Since my previous visit the dining area has been refurbished, with a movable spotlight placed by each table. This means that each table is quite well lit even though the overall room lighting is kept quite low. As well as a carte choice there were varying lengths of tasting menus, from CHF 198 (£144) to CHF 259 (£188).
The wine list was very extensive and had some excellent growers from around the world, and some real bargains towards the top of the list. Dr Loosen Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr 2012 was CHF 69 for a bottle that retails at around CHF 26, Donnhoff Spatlese Oberhauser Brucke 2009 was CHF 119 compared to a retail price of CHF 55, and Lafon Mersault 2009 at CHF 209 was not excessive for a label that fetches about CHF 120 in a shop. At the grander end of the list the lovely Coche Dury Mersault Les Rougeots 2008 was a bargain at CHF 499 given that it retails for slightly more than that these days, and Massetto 2008 at CHF 749 was barely more than its market price of around CHF 700.
Initial nibbles comprised a superb sliver of foie gras with almonds, veal tartare with kohlrabi, pickled local asparagus and ultra light cones of beetroot with whitefish. These were followed by superb red cabbage ice cream with mustard mousse, and a miniature ham sandwich with peppers. Often the canapés, even at high-end restaurants, can seem like afterthoughts compared to the main meal, but these were very serious indeed. In particular the veal and foie gras nibbles had terrific flavour and delicacy (20/20).
Chicken that had been pickled and smoked and served with corn mousse was very enjoyable but not in the league of those first nibbles (18/20). Veal tail served as jelly and parfait with pearl barley and peppermint vinaigrette was an oddity, the meat excellent but peppermint, a monster of a flavour at the best of times, here dominating the flavours like a bully in a school playground. This is tricky to score but perhaps 15/20.
The pleasant and relatively soothing herb soup with celeriac, wild garlic, tarragon, chervil and parsley that followed was a relief after the mint, the herb flavours subtle and the soup pleasingly creamy (17/20). Smoked beef tongue with apples and onion with a little wasabi was tender, though for me there are limits to how thrilling beef tongue can be (16/20). By contrast the country bread that now arrived was superb, with excellent crust and great flavour (20/20).
Arctic char is native to alpine lakes so was an appropriately local dish, served with peas that had lovely intensity (18/20). Even better was langoustine with carrot and langoustine tartare, the shellfish beautifully sweet (20/20). The pork dish that followed was sourced so locally that when I asked where it was from the waiter pointed to an area on the hillside opposite. The pork was done in several ways (cured, braised, with tortellini) and had dazzling flavour, the bacon simply extraordinary (20/20).
A dish that has been on the menu since 2009 is potato creme brûlée with nut butter foam and black truffle. This is a gloriously rich dish, the texture light and airy and the fragrance of the truffle elevating the flavour of the potato to a heady level (20/20). Venison with dried pear and bacon had lovely flavour, served with a rich reduction of the cooking juices, the acidity of the pear cutting nicely through the richness (19/20).
A selection of cheeses, all local, was in very good condition, served with dried meat from various local farms and a simple local dish of potatoes from the Albula valley. Dessert was not in the same league as the savoury dishes. Hazelnuts were caramelised and also came as cream and ice cream, alongside huckleberry jelly also served marinated and dried with coffee powder. This dish seemed to me to have too many elements (15/20). I preferred a selection of petit fours including fruit jellies, truffles, raspberry yoghurt and lime lollipops, an apple macaron, coffee slice and an almond milk mousse with raspberry as well as a chocolate ganache (18/20).
The bill came to a distinctly chunky CHF 2008 (£733 per person) but this was almost entirely due to some distinctly extravagant wine indulgence on our part. The food element of the meal was just CHF 259 (£189) each, so if you just shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head would be about £230, which is not excessive for a three star Michelin restaurant in Switzerland. Also bear in mind that the wine list has many bargains at the high end, which is a rarity in this level of restaurant. Service was superb: friendly, attentive and knowledgable. Overall this was an impressive meal, and although over the course of any lengthy tasting menu there will always be some dishes that you will like better than others, the high points of the meal here were as impressive as the local mountains.
Further reviews: 30th Mar 2011