Lausanne is a place that excudes an air of decadence and art de vivre that few others do. One of the places that exemplify this more than any other is the Café Beau Rivage, just below the Beau Rivage Palace, facing the Lake Geneva.
The Café Beau Rivage essentially is a glorified version of a bistro. Or to put it another way, it is all a good bistro should be, without all of the inconvenient elements. What you have here is a remarkably beautiful and characteristic dining room, service that is professional and curteous and a clever selection of wines – both by the glass and bottle. As one would expect with such a restaurant, the menu is full of classics and reads very well.
Here, even on a busy night, the kitchen delivers with pretty much everything it sends out. Take for instance oysters with champagne sabayon. This dish is one of those that you don’t see often enough in better restaurants, but can be truly satisfying. That is exactly the case here, as the oysters are just warmed enough to be a little plumper and thus more meaty than they would be in a raw state. Topped with an airy and very well balanced champagne sabayon, you have a dish that is both subtle and full of flavour. The same goes for an equally well-made terine of foie gras and pigeon, which is perfectly smooth and beautifully seasoned.
Main courses are simple and tasty. Ribeye of beef comes grilled to perfection and succulently juicy. The piece of beef is accompanied by a rich pepper and Armagnac sauce that intensifies the flavours of the dish, making it another very solid rendition of a bistro classic. The only thing that could be improved upon are the chips, which are a little soggy. Hard to criticise on the other hand is a beef tartar. This comes hand-chopped and seasoned tableside. Depending on your preference, the seasoning can be deft, and quite spicy, making it an addictive tartar.
Desserts are equally classically minded, and can be chosen from the trolley that is full of things such as tiramisu, lemon tart, various chocolate desserts or crème brulée. The best of the bunch is without much doubt the lemon tart, featuring a delicately crunchy base, a lemon cream that has a good balance between sweetness and acidity, and a light and airy meringue.
Eating at the Café Beau Rivage has something quite charming about it. Apart from the hearty classical food that they serve here, the ambience in this lively dining room is what really makes it a unique place. It is that air of timelessness that one finds all too rarely, and just lets you forget where you are.