I like to think I’m pretty au courant with the Swiss ski resort of Verbier. A while back I spent two consecutive winter seasons there and continue to return every year. But it wasn’t until my latest trip last month that I discovered the eponymous restaurant inside Hôtel les Chamois, which has been open for nearly 30 years and is apparently where “the locals go”. Although I’ve walked past the retro-style chalet hotel en route to the lift many times, I had no idea of the culinary delights that lie inside.
Les Chamois (pictured) is a cosy 80-seater, family-owned restaurant known for its premium meats – namely Swiss beef and veal, or Irish and Australian lamb. The roaring open fire and grill are the space’s centrepiece, offset with wooden chandeliers, exposed beams and sheepskin chair covers – not to mention wall-mounted cow bells and an oversized gnome.
Immediately sold on the grill, our party went easy on the starters, all of which we shared: a delicious mixed salad, onion soup and six moreish Bourgogne snails. Then came the much-anticipated meats: a fabulous looking rack of Irish lamb, beef entrecôte and, for me and a friend, a shared ribeye steak (about £95 for 600g) served with rosti (a choice of gratin dauphinois, baked potato, fresh pasta or rice is also available) that was absolutely top rate.
Dessert was also a shared affair and the apple tart flambéed with calvados and cinnamon ice cream was the winning choice, shortly followed by the lavender-flavoured crème brûlée.
I left planning my next trip, when I intend to sample some of the Swiss mountain classics – there is fondu and raclette, the latter featuring local Valais cheese, as well as a range of croûtes – and maybe the beef stew “like grandmother used to make it”. If only I, too, were a local.