Nine of the best places to find the finest caviar

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The leafy Tropenhaus Frutigen Restaurant located high in the Swiss Alps
The leafy Tropenhaus Frutigen Restaurant located high in the Swiss Alps

Tropenhaus in Frutigen

Sustainability is the USP at this spot in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, where sturgeon are raised for Oona caviar. Engineers have harnessed the natural warmth of water from melting snow and rain to grow tropical plants and to farm fish here. At the leafy Tropenhaus Frutigen Restaurant, surrounded – slightly surreally, this being high in the Alps – by banana palms, papaya trees and warm pools where the sturgeon bask, a four-course caviar menu (SFr189, about £148) features the glistening black eggs served three different ways. You can also buy to go, as well as from the website – No 103 Traditional is about £59 for 30g, but I like to treat myself to Les Petits Plaisirs au Caviar (about £12.95) on site, which includes a teeny 5g portion of Oona served with hot buttered toast; with a soft-boiled egg; with warm waxy potatoes and flaxseed oil; or with Swedish crispbread and a creamy honey-mustard sauce (about £14.50 each). Expect a glorious explosion of iodised, mineral, nutty notes, a perfectly balanced salty lick and long, long flavour. Oona Swiss Caviar, oona-caviar.ch. Tropenhaus Frutigen, Tropenhausweg 1, 3714 Frutigen (+4133-672 1144; tropenhaus-frutigen.ch). SUE STYLE

Rich and nutty Ossetra Galilee Prime, $128 for 30g from Khavyar
Rich and nutty Ossetra Galilee Prime, $128 for 30g from Khavyar
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Khavyar

This US website sells 16 sustainably farmed varieties of salt-cured fish eggs, sourced from the waters of Denmark, Belgium and Israel, as well as Southern US states such as Louisiana and Kentucky. This results in a wide and democratic range of pricing, from $13 to $195 for 30g. The site’s standouts include the black, buttery beads of Siberian Gold ($152 for 30g) and the rich and nutty Ossetra Galilee Prime ($128 for 30g). The lesser-known American caviars run the gamut from the Alaskan Ikura Salmon ($18 for 57g), with its firm texture and bold flavour, to wild-caught Hackleback ($46 for 30g) – aka shovelnose sturgeon – sourced from the cold lake waters of Illinois and Kentucky. For connoisseurs, Khavyar’s American White Sturgeon ($57 for 30g), with its big, beautiful, metallic-grey pearls, is as close as you can get in the US to the Russian Ossetra. khavyar.com. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS

Andrei Dellos’ elegant Chekhovian-style dacha-cum-restaurant, bar and tearoom Café Pouchkine in Paris
Andrei Dellos’ elegant Chekhovian-style dacha-cum-restaurant, bar and tearoom Café Pouchkine in Paris
Boutary restaurant in Paris is “dedicated to a clientele who want a neo-caviar experience”
Boutary restaurant in Paris is “dedicated to a clientele who want a neo-caviar experience”

Café Pouchkine

Restaurateur Andrei Dellos’ Chekhovian-style dacha-cum-restaurant, bar and tearoom is a warming Parisian escape brimming with caviar alongside comforting hot chocolate, champagne and sublime pâtisserie. An all-day menu begins with breakfasts including scrambled eggs with “salmon eggs” (€14). Lunch and dinner dishes include Baéri and L’Osciètre caviar served with blinis or potatoes (€82-€430), while a dizzying collection of desserts and ice creams are worth crossing town for. 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (+331-4282 4331; cafe-pouchkine.fr). MARGARET KEMP

Prunier specialises in French caviar in its splendid art deco restaurant
Prunier specialises in French caviar in its splendid art deco restaurant
Riofrío sells its caviar (£59 for 30g) in the UK under the Riofrío brand
Riofrío sells its caviar (£59 for 30g) in the UK under the Riofrío brand

Boutary

In Paris’s Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Boutary is “dedicated to a clientele who want a neo-caviar experience and who are keen to have fun with these shiny black sturgeon’s eggs,” describes its president, Charles de Saint Vincent. On the menu is freshly prepared Baéri; a stylish signature red (mixed exclusively by Ateliers Robert Gohard); and best of all, a matured Ossetra, with hints of walnuts and cream – an intriguingly subtle flavour. The idea for this boutique/bar-restaurant grew from an original Private Members’ Access, a pre-order bespoke service of Premier Cru Collection caviars (from about €800). “The caviar comes from the four varieties of sturgeon raised on our farms in the Aquitaine region and also from our mountain-lake farm in Bulgaria,” says de Saint Vincent. “The sturgeons are raised for seven to 10 years – 16 to 18 for our belugas – and only two per cent of their eggs meet the stringent criteria of our sélection de France, harvested at the peak of their maturity in order to produce the finest of caviars.” 25 Rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris (boutary.com). MARGARET KEMP

Bellamy’s restaurant in London serves two caviars: the Aquitaine variety and the pricier (but magnificent) Osietra
Bellamy’s restaurant in London serves two caviars: the Aquitaine variety and the pricier (but magnificent) Osietra
Roe Caviar uses the eggs of one American white sturgeon for each tin, from $100 for 30g
Roe Caviar uses the eggs of one American white sturgeon for each tin, from $100 for 30g

Prunier

The first place that springs to mind when I think of these glistening spheres is Prunier, on Avenue Victor Hugo. This splendid art deco building is perfect for the consumption of caviar, a place that a rather chic mermaid might choose for lunch. The caviar in question is also French, farmed in Aquitaine. I am especially fond of the Saint James brand (€119 for 30g ): pleasantly yielding in texture, not too salty, and with a lingering, savoury finish. Restaurant Prunier, 16 Avenue Victor Hugo, 75116 Paris (+331-4417 3585; prunier.com). BILL KNOTT

Royal Belgian Caviar (from £45 for 30g) is made from the eggs of farmed Russian sturgeon
Royal Belgian Caviar (from £45 for 30g) is made from the eggs of farmed Russian sturgeon
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Riofrío

This organic-sturgeon farm is an impressive operation located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, and which sells its caviar in the UK under the Riofrío brand (£59 for 30g). The 19th-century Palacio de los Patos, now a five-star Hospes hotel, offers two- or three-night packages with a chance to visit Riofrío’s farm and have a tasting in situ, while its restaurant menu is also biased towards caviar aficionados. On my visit, several Michelin-starred Spanish chefs were demonstrating dishes featuring Riofrío’s eggs in various guises – though often the only accessory caviar really needs is a mother-of-pearl spoon. I made an interesting discovery, however: Riofrío’s caviar actually goes jolly well with a glass of dry sherryHospes Palacio de los Patos, Solarillo de Gracia, 18002 Granada (+34958-535 790; hospes.com). BILL KNOTT 

Bellamy’s

In London, the caviar lover can do no better than head to Bellamy’s, on Bruton Place, which is housed in a building that was, until 14 years ago, Caviar Kaspia. The tradition survives at Bellamy’s Oyster Bar, where you can order either the Aquitaine variety (£89 for 50g) or the pricier (but magnificent) Osietra (£105 for 50g). Bellamy’s, 18 Bruton Place, London W1 (020-7491 2727; bellamysrestaurant.co.uk)BILL KNOTT

Roe Caviar

This delicious American white sturgeon variety (from $100 for 30gis available online – and it arrives just 24 hours after clicking to buy. I was initially tempted by the sleek, minimalist packaging: each little vial is presented in a classic Monterey pine box (complete with a mother-of-pearl spoon) – a clever design that keeps the creamy goodness within fresh for 72 hours after opening. It is sustainably farmed in northern California and produced using the eggs of one sturgeon for each tin – and unlike some Russian and European caviars, there is no borax preservative, which I think adds to the fresh, clean flavour. roecaviar.com. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS

Royal Belgian Caviar

Made from the eggs of farmed Russian sturgeon (from £45 for 30g), this complex, mellow, nutty flavour is a match for the best wild Osietra. It is sublime in combination with frozen vodka, but you might like to sample it with chilled champagne, on warm blinis with a little soured cream: unlike most farmed caviar, it has a clean, not-too-salty taste, with the classic Osietra hint of ripe camembert. It is also more than 25 per cent cheaper than the wild equivalent. Available from King’s Fine Foods, 020-8894 1111; kingsfinefood.comBILL KNOTT

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