2017/04/06

Review of Restaurant Lampart's, Haegendorf near Olten/Switzerland

Location

Foodies' heaven at a beauty of a restaurant

Lampart’s near Olten is certainly one of the best fine dining spots between the cities of Zurich and Basle, and most probably also the most beautiful restaurant in this area, if not in Switzerland – at least Gault-Millau Guide said this and I think so too. The chef – he goes by the name of Lampart – is a genius at his profession, he was awarded with two stars
Michelin and 17 points Gault-Millau and I am sure it is only a matter of time until he receives his 18th point from Gault-Millau. Reto Lampart has been working constantly on his cuisine, classical French Mediterranean inspired, to reach today’s high standard.


General

My resp. our family’s relationship with Lampart’s goes a long way back. When Reto Lampart opened his restaurant together with his then girlfriend and now wife Anni – originally named Lampart’s Art of Dining – in 2000, my husband and I as foodies were fast to try out this new culinary hot spot and became soon fans of his elaborate cuisine. Two years later we even celebrated a special birthday with a party of more than twenty people at this restaurant. In 2003, Reto Lampart bought the place and another year later he was awarded his second star Michelin.

Unfortunately, my family’s relationship with Lampart’s somewhat cooled down after that. We experienced one or two dinners that did not go as planned, amongst other things there were very long waits. Only in recent years, we became closer again. After being there for two business events and a dinner on a weekday, we decided to go for the big thing, i.e. having dinner on Saturday evening. And we were thrilled about it! We had waited far too long to return to this amazing place …


Location/Ambiance

The restaurant is housed in a historical carriage house from 1840, beautifully renovated in the English country house style. You feel enchanted going up the gravel way and getting closer to the building. It is like a throwback to a time long gone by. If only it had not been located next to a busy road in the nondescript village of Haegendorf near Olten. The only advantage of this situation is the fact that it can be reached from Zurich, Basle and Berne in about half an hour by car.

It is not only a beauty from the outside but also the interior is a real feast for the eyes. It is tastefully decorated in a timeless, elegant style without giving the impression of being stiff. On the contrary, the ambiance is inviting und you feel comfortable in here. In addition, there is a generous spacing between the tables so you have more privacy and personal space.


Food

As mentioned above, Reto Lampart celebrates a classical yet modernized French cuisine, with heavy Mediterranean influences. His cooking has substance, without the chichi often associated with haute cuisine. The chef stands out for his meticulous working style. The dishes are expertly crafted and attention is paid to minutest details, however not without some surprise effects once in a while. The size of portions is exactly right, not so tiny that flavors cannot unfold.

Menu

There are two menus available from which you can choose five courses or more. Alternatively, you can order one or more starters from the menu and combine them with a Lambart’s classic main out of a small selection. Menu “Sinfonie plaisir” with eight courses contains fish, seafood and meat, menu “Sinfonie naturelle” with seven courses has only vegetarian dishes. Our party of four opted for five courses from the “Sinfonie plaisir”. By lucky coincidence, all eight courses were ordered, so we all could at least have a look at them.

We started with a glass of Deutz champagne and light nibbles and were looking forward to our culinary experience. A bit later, we were presented with one of the most impressive breadbasket I have ever seen, there were about ten different varieties of bread. The waitress went through each of them and we were spoilt for choice. I went for two healthy ones looking yearningly at the rolled tomato bread, bud I did not want to overload my stomach. They were a treat and of course there were several revisits from the breadbasket between the courses to follow …


Amuse Bouche: Crab & Accompaniments

The long awaited gastronomic pleasure started furiously with an outstanding amuse bouche: sublime crab meat with its condiments. The light sauce that came with the seafood made it a superb combination.


First Starter: Tatar of Lamb, Peas, Sorrel, Feta & Dried Egg Yolk

We were a bit surprised that we got a meat dish as first course, but the lamb together with the greens and the cheese blended magnificently. The dried egg yolk finally was the cherry on the cake.


Second Starter: Whitefish Escabeche Style, Wild Green Asparagus in Vietnamese Rice, Hazelnut & Tarragon

The first fish dish I had was quite an extraordinary one. I am lover of ceviche – raw fish cured in citrus juices –, however escabeche is different. It is seared fish, marinated in a vinegary sauce, loaded with herbs and spices and served at room temperature. The chef prepared it impeccably complemented with asparagus and sticky Asian rice, a new taste sensation.


Second Starter: Sole Fillet & Squid Mediterranean Style

The next starter was a sole fillet, one of my favorite fishes, and squid, prepared in a Mediterranean way. The fish was firm, the seafood tender and together with the vegetables, the herbs and the sauce this course made a tasty creation.


Third Starter: Open Ravioli, Corn-Fed Guinea Fowl Leg, Carrot, Morels

I did not choose the open ravioli and could only sneak a peek of the dish on the plate of my fellow diners. Fresh sheets of pasta were filled with meat, accompanied with vegetables, mushrooms and a light sauce and topped with greens, herbs and a foam. My table companions loved it …


Main: Veal Shoulder Tip Cooked Sous Vide, Kohlrabi, New Potatoes, Watercress, Horseradish

And the magic found its continuation in the main course. The four of us had discussed it before the meal. We asked ourselves what kind of piece the veal shoulder tip is and whether it had something to do with Tafelspitz (tip of ox), especially because it was served with horseradish. It turned out to be the highlight of our meal. The meat, cooked sous vide, was succulent, very tender and flavorful. It harmonized perfectly with the light sauce served with the veal and the kohlrabi potato towers were not only a feast for the eyes but also for the palate.


Cheese: Swiss Artisan Soft Cheese (La Bouse from Yumi), Honey Sponge, Herbs

My husband was the only one of the table who ordered cheese instead of a dessert and was delighted by the sweet and sour variation of soft cheese, honey sponge and herbs. From looking at it, this course was definitely not your normal cheese dish. The chef is known for its special cheese courses, an all time favorite certainly is Vacherin cheese and Schlorziflade, a speciality from Appenzell (tart with puree of pears and spices). This is the Swiss canton where the chef comes from. If you have a chance to try this, do not hesitate, it is really one of a kind!


First Dessert: Beetroot, Raspberry, Granola, Ganache of Felchlin Grand Cru
Couverture

This was my choice of a dessert and I was happy to have opted for it. The other dessert was also promising, but I cannot refrain from having chocolate when it is on the menu. And it was totally worth it, the chocolate was like a big fondant praline. It was tenderly melting and suited perfectly to the accompanying cream. The raspberry ice cream, the granola and the white baiser with red dots made it complete, a divine combination of flavors and textures!


Second Dessert: Exotic, Passion Fruit, Mango, Coconut, Sesame

The fruity dessert was the choice of a fellow diner, so I could only admire the beautiful arrangement but not taste it. The mango cream on caramelized sesame, accompanied with passion fruit sauce and coconut ice cream was a beautiful composition indeed.


Bonus Pastry: Eclair with Coffee Cream

After everyone except my husband had relished the sweet dish, we were treated to a bonus pastry. It was a coffee eclair, made with crisp dough, filled with a delicate cream and topped with icing, heavenly!


Bonus Dessert: Sour Cream Ice Cream & Citrus Fruit

And the feast went on … Instead of serving a pre-dessert we received a post-dessert, a novelty to me: a sour cream ice cream and a variety of citrus fruits, once as a cream, the other time as fruit salad. It was the perfect closure of a likewise meal, only …


Friandises: Tiny Tarts & Chocolate

it was not quite the end! The gastronomic explosion was completed with a procession of tiny tarts – one finer than the other – and as a plus there was our choice of a truffle from a special box offered by the staff.

Service/Pricing

The service under the supervision of Reto Lampart’s wife Anni is top-notch. Its standard does not fail to impress. Compared to the one we experienced some ten years ago, it is more present and more attentive. Staff is warm and competent yet relaxed and unobtrusive. The dishes are served at the right intervals, there are no overlong waits but there is also no rush. That is another point that has been improved, at the time we were faced with long waiting times again and again.

When it comes to prices, they have gone up compared to a couple of years ago but so has the level of quality. Given the performance of cuisine and service the price you pay is totally worth it. One has to be aware of the fact that culinary experiences such as the one you get at Lampart’s come at a price. In this context, I was pleasantly surprised that the current menu now can be found on the restaurant’s homepage! Until recently, this was not so and therefore the cause for complaint.


Overall

In case you look for a culinary hot spot in the triangle between Zurich, Basle and Berne, there is no way around Lampart’s. Classical French cuisine Mediterranean influenced at its best is offered at this beautiful restaurant in a renovated carriage house. Cuisine and service make sure that even a discerning epicure will be satisfied. The chef is master in his field and his wife ensures a warm hospitality leaving a lasting impression.

·      Costs: Menu “Sinfonie Plaisir”: 5 courses 175 SFR, every additional course SFR 20, all (8) courses 235 SFR / Menu “Sinfonie Naturelle” (vegetarian): 5 courses 155 SFR, every other dish 20 SFR, all (7) courses 195 SFR / Mains: 68 – 88 SFR, some served in 2 courses
·      Cuisine: upscale fine dining, classical French Mediterranean inspired
·      Address: Oltnerstrasse 19, 4614 Hägendorf, Tel +41 62 209 70 60, E-Mail info@lamparts.ch

Date of visit: March 2017

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