Lausanne's Restaurant Crissier is a story of triumph to tragedy to triumph again
It is hard to approach B. Violier, nestled in an elegant former town hall in suburban Lausanne, without thinking of the tragic back story.
In the last days of 2015, B. Violier (restaurantcrissier.com) was named as the world’s best restaurant in La Liste, published by the French Foreign Ministry. Within weeks Benoît Violier, the popular young head chef, took his own life.
The local newspaper printed its entire front page in black; nobody could work out why such a high had been followed so quickly by this wretched low.On a much brighter note, the restaurant has continued with great success under the management of Benoît’s determined widow, Brigitte Violier.
The new head chef, Franck Giovannini, is keeping the three Michelin stars secure.B. Violier (also known as Restaurant Crissier and Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville) remains at the sharp end of the lists that count.
We sampled Giovannini’s Menu Découverte d’Hiver, an eight-course winter degustation comprising “the best produce of the moment”. A 12-course Menu Gastronomique is also available.
Each course showcased exquisite design and original flavours. There was theatre too, the silver cloches being lifted from dishes simultaneously by suited staff who arrived at all the right moments.
Highlights of this elevated gustatory experience included glazed crab cooked in a Leytron pinot blanc with Belgian caviar to the side, and tiny cups of duck foie gras filled with mulled spices and pear chutney.
There were complex langoustine, brill, leek in truffle sauce, and Bresse chicken presentations; the cheese board brought 34 options, and was followed by two desserts, then artistic “candies” (cheese, then dessert, being the correct order in the Francophone world).
The Menu Découverte cost 295 CHF (around $415). Matched local wines added another 110 CHF (around $155), though a mix of the finest French wines can also be specified. A 1989 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti topped the wine list at 18,000 CHF (around $25,200).