Some people use stars or numbers to indicate their pleasure with a restaurant, but for me, it’s the memories that matter. To wit, the best restaurants are the ones that leave behind such a vivid gastronomic souvenir that it incites a constant desire to revisit the same table again.
In this category, chef Emmanuel Renaut’s Michelin three-star restaurant Flocons de Sel in Megève is one of my favourites, which is why I was so eager to make a break for Chamonix once I learned this brilliant Alpine chef had taken over the legendary Auberge du Bois Prin there. This old lodge with 12 rooms, all of which have full-on views of Mont Blanc, first opened in 1976 and was in need of some loving care. Kristine Renaut oversaw the renovation of the hotel, while Emmanuel created a menu for its restaurant. Arriving late on an autumn afternoon, the views of the famous mountain were spectacularly beautiful, framed by the verdure of the rolling valley leading up to the legendary peak, and the cool air after sundown sharpened appetites gone slack from a summer spent in the cicada-whirring heat of a village outside of Uzès.
In contrast to the dazzlingly technical and inventive cooking Renaut does in Megève, his menu here runs to sophisticated high-altitude contemporary comfort food, or exactly those dishes you’ll want to eat after a day out hiking or hitting the slopes, depending on the season, of course. For my part, I love the Alps during the summer, when they’re less crowded and staggeringly beautiful, their mantle of snow replaced by meadows filled with wild flowers.
Starters of ravioli filled with goat’s cheese in a homemade vegetable bouillon and a luscious pâté en croûte were intensely satisfying, as were mains of free-range chicken cooked with almonds and juniper berries and omble chevalier, a delicate fish from local lakes, with roasted cabbage and a herbal jus. A mint-brightened chocolate ganache with a sablé crust and a baba au Chartreuse (sponge cake doused with the reviving herbal liqueur made by monks near Grenoble) with lemony whipped cream were outstanding, and the cool mountain air offered the perfect excuse to have a tot of Chartreuse on the deck outdoors after dinner and enjoy the full moon polishing the snow on Mont Blanc.
69 Chemin de l’Hermine,
Tel. (33) 04 50 53 33 51,
Prix-fixe lunch menu €35, dinner menu €65
From France Today magazine