|Lausanne : Eating and drinking|
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If all you want is a reviving drink and somewhere to take the weight off your feet, the city centre and the Old Town can offer dozens of cafés and café-bars – almost every corner of every quarter has its local haunt, most of which offer food as well. Ouchy is a little less straightforward, since the cafés lining the waterfront are universally overpriced and under-quality, and although there’s no shortage of portside restaurants offering fresh lake fish, none stands out as particularly noteworthy.
Aside from the city’s reasonable choice of ethnic eateries, there are plenty of haunts offering Vaudois specialities. A tomme is a round soft cheese baked to melting point within its white Brie-like rind, and often served on a bed of leafy salad. A local speciality of the La Côte region just west of Lausanne is a malakoff, a hot, rich fried round of cheese served on a bread or pastry base; the nearby villages of Vinzel and Luins compete for whose malakoff is the best, but you can also easily find Lausannois versions in the city’s more traditional diners. The mighty saucisson vaudois, a smoked pork and beef sausage, is served hot, accompanied by papet vaudois, a puree of leek and potato, and graded according to quality, with the best labelled reverentially with the green cantonal flag.
Cafés and café-bars
Bleu Lézard, 10 Rue Enning. Fashionable and lively café-bar on a busy corner, with a windowful of gnomes and a comfy colourful interior. The mood mutates into restaurant territory in the evenings, when food (including veggie options) is pricey – but you don’t have to eat and the atmosphere is free.
La Bossette, 4 Place du Nord, east of Tunnel. Comfortable and uniquely friendly local café on a patch of green beneath the château, serving a range of speciality beers along with excellent food.
Buffet de la Gare, train station. Deeply atmospheric station buffet, with high ceilings, wood-panelled walls, white-aproned waiters and more than a hint of the age of steam. If your eye’s on the minute hand, ask for the assiette express (Fr.13.50).
Café Bel-Air, Place Bel-Air. The place to be seen, with the gentle tinkle of teaspoons accompanying the most discreet of gossip behind plate-glass windows.
Café de l’Évêché, 4 Rue Curtat. Atmospheric little haunt of talkative students and local old-timers just below the cathedral – perfect for morning coffee, authentic fondue, or beer and dominoes.
Café de l’Hôtel de Ville, 10 Place de la Palud. Wonderful little intimate wood-floor café, with excellent Vaudois specialities – including hot and cold goats’ cheeses with salad – quality service and especially fancy desserts. The cellar features small-scale shows of chansons, jazz and comedians.
Café Romand, Place St-François (under Pizza Hut). Unmissable and much-loved city-centre retreat, a heartwarming place with parquet floor and cosy alcoves for beer, coffee or Swiss gutliners.
Lecaféthéâtre, 10 Rue de Genève. Appealing café-bar in the Flon, with a cellar atmosphere, fantasy art on the walls and nightly live sessions of piano, guitar or French chansons for entertainment. Food is excellent, home-cooked style, and not expensive. Closed Sun & Mon.
MGM, 14 Rue du Lac. Café-bar in Ouchy, the best of the bunch, with tunes and rather tacky decor which aim for Miami Beach and miss.
Du Raisin, 19 Place de la Palud. Prime people-watching terrace café in the Old Town.
Sidewalk, 7 Place du Tunnel. Popular local joint in a little-visited area.
Café du Grütli, 4 Rue de la Mercerie. Venerable old tile-and-darkwood brasserie in the heart of the Old Town, with very affordable menus (Fr.16 or so), or idiosyncratic options like a dozen snails (Fr.19). Head past the pavement tables and make for the hum of conversation within. Closed Sun.
Au Couscous, 2 Rue Enning (021/321 38 40). Long-standing Arabic restaurant in a lively part of town, lacking some atmosphere but making up for it with excellent couscous and tajine (Fr.22+) and mezze (Fr.25), with veggie and macrobiotic dishes too. Menus from Fr.15. Closed Sat & Sun lunchtimes.
Da Geppetto, in Hôtel Boulevard, 51 Boulevard de Grancy (%021/617 28 11). Menus for Fr.16, or fresh pasta dishes for Fr.25–30, in a lively, pleasant ambience away from the city-centre hubbub. Closed Sun.
La Grappe d’Or, 3 Cheneau-de-Bourg (021/323 07 60). Top gourmet temple for classic and modern French cuisine, benefiting from attentive service and a warm ambience. Expect no change from Fr.100. Closed Sat lunch & Sun.
Laxmi, 5 Escaliers du Marché. Excellent authentic Indian/veggie food, well prepared and cooked. Budget all-you-can-eat buffet lunches are Fr.15, or Fr.11 for veggies, or Fr.10 for cold dishes; evening menus cost no more. Students get a ten percent discount. Closed Mon lunch and Sun.
Ma Jong, 3 Escaliers du Grand-Pont. Just down from Manora, with excellent-value freshly wok-fried meals, piled high for Fr.14. Sushi too. Closed Sun.
Manora, 17 Place St-François. Self-service place with a wide range of excellent cheap food. Daily 9am–10.30pm.
Rochat, 1 Rue d’Yverdon, Crissier (021/634 05 05). Formerly the domain of the legendary Frédy Girardet, said to be the greatest chef in the world in his day, and now taken over by Philippe Rochat, an underling for some seventeen years. This is considered to be Switzerland’s best restaurant – Michelin give it three stars. The style is classic, the presentation and service are impeccable. Reserve two months ahead for dinner, two weeks ahead for lunch. Closed Sun & Mon, and early Aug.
Le Shanghai, 6 Place du Tunnel. Rock-bottom cheap Chinese, plain and serviceable. Lunches for less than Fr.15. Closed Sun.
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