One of the most wonderful parts of skiing is often not the skiing itself, but the fantastic mountain restaurants that come with the territory. Cosy Alpine interiors, roaring log fires, sweeping sun terraces with 360 degree views of the mountains, bubbling fondues and vin chaud — there is so much to love. And not even more so for the new 2021 season, as ski resorts prepare to reopen after a Covid-induced break.
Meredith Erickson, author of Alpine Cooking tells us, the perfect mountain restaurant should be: “cosy and unpretentious with menu choices that are indicative of exactly where you are. You know you’re in a great mountain restaurant when you completely lose track of time.” We couldn’t agree more.
Here, we share the mountain restaurants around the Alps to have on our radar for the new season, as well as a recipe from Meredith’s cooking bible.
In the Bernese Mountains lies glitzy Gstaad, beloved of the European jetset and packed with swanky boutiques and grand old hotels. One of its longest-standing restaurants is the Rössli, which has been owned by the Reichenbach family since 1919. And its signature dish? A legendary poached trout, which it still serves to this day. We also recommend the wiener schnitzel, eaten ideally on its beautiful terrace on a sunny winter’s day.
Restaurant Rössli Gsteigstrasse 16, 3784 Feutersoey-Gstaad Rössli
Chalet Gstaad, a beautifully renovated old farmhouse with five large bedrooms, roll-top baths and 360 degree views of the mountains.
Not far away in the French-speaking part of Gstaad Valley you will find the exceptionally pretty village of Rougemont. In the heart of it is Le Cerf, a wonderfully cosy and authentic spot with a hearty menu and, as locals would have it, the best fondue and raclette, in the Alps. Start with a hare and fois gras piece, before moving onto the much-feted Edgard fondue and finish off with wood-fired meringues with double alpine cream.
Le Cerf 8 Rue des Allamans, Rougement Le Cerf
Chalet Zumu, sleeping 10 with a large south facing terrace and great entertaining potential— we love the giant fireplace in the living room.
As one of the last grand hotels of the 19th century, the family-run hotel is located right in front of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau at 2070 m above sea level. in the midst of alpine beauty of the famous skiing and hiking region of the Bernese Oberland. The building, its interior and its guest list are steeped in history, while the hotel is also famous for being the location where "The Eiger Sanction" starring Clint Eastwood and "North Face" with Benno Furmann were filmed.
Bellevue des Alpes Kleine Scheidegg Bellevue des Alpes
There are 100 beds at the hotel Bellevue des Alpes and season runs from mid December to mid April.
As you ski down the Rothorn mountain, you’ll come across a rather unassuming farmhouse, which you might whizz past were it not for the raucous good times pouring out. This is Chez Vrony, Zermatt favourite and family run for more than a 100 years by the Julens. Embodying what it means to be farm to fork, with all the meat and cheese produced from animals fed on alpine grass. Make sure to order a selection of cured meats, which are made on-site and a Chez Vrony speciality. The terrace doubles up as an apres-ski bar, with picture-perfect views of the Matterhorn.
Chez Vrony Findeln, 3920 Zermatt Chez Vrony
Getting to S’Aelpele is half the fun. Get a taxi to Zug and the team will come and collect you by ski-doo for the last leg of the journey. You arrive at a secluded mountain hut under starlit skies and feel as if you have arrived at someone’s home. It’s all about the fondue here - meat or cheese (ideally both), lots of schnapps and probably some singing and dancing from a nearby boisterous table, if not your own. Make sure you book ahead.
Gasthaus S’Aelpele Zug 61, 6764 Lech Gasthaus S’Aelpele
The Sonnbühel has been a fixture in the Kitzbühel scene since it opened nearly a hundred years ago when it embodied la dolce far niente in the golden age of 1920s. Wonderfully located, super authentic and with a winning sun terrace, it’s the place to have lunch and do après-ski. Feast on Sonnbühel (young bull) tartar, burrata chips and whole cocinillo pork grilled on a spit or the sharing chateaubriand. A must-visit for anyone in the area.
Sonnbühel Hahnenkamm 11, 6370 Kitzbühel Sonnbühel
The Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort, which enjoys a superb location and even better views of the Kitzbüheler Horn and Hahnenkamm peaks.
The Dolomites are a food lover’s paradise, with endless mountain huts treating skiers fresh off the piste to its hearty north Italian highlights, from pastas to gnocchis and polentas. And no mention of the Dolomites can go without referencing Norbert Niederkofler, the culinary brains behind AlpiNN and St Hubertus. AlpiNN is an incredible space, high up in the mountains so that you feel almost in the clouds and where you can choose its ‘Blind Menu’ in the assurance that everything will be cooked ‘from the mountain’ as per his food philosophy.
St Hubertus is Niederkofler’s triple Michelin-starred restaurant at the luxe Rosa Alpina hotel in San Cassiano. Ask for the table by the crackling fire and settle in for a very regional feast.
AlpiNN, Kronplatz, Bruneck AlpiNN
St Hubertus Strada Micurà de Rü, 20, 39036 San Cassiano St Hubertus
Hotel Rosa Alpina, so you can roll upstairs to your room after dinner.
This high-altitude restaurant sits in a cosy chalet hotel right on the Meribel slopes, so it’s packed with skiers all day long looking to take advantage of its traditional Savoyard menu. For a leisurely lunch, the house speciality is a must-order and uses a recipe passed down through generations: veal escalope à la crème (a delicious mushroom sauce) with homemade chips. At dinner, it’s all about raclette, fondue and, of course, tartiflette.
Chalet Hôtel de l'Adray Télébar, 2020 route de l’Altiport, 73550 Méribel Chalet Hôtel de l'Adray Télébar
“It’s my favourite thing to order because it’s rustic and exactly what you want to eat after a day of skiing, but at the same time it’s extremely elegant and light — perfect with a delicious bottle of red from the Jura or a Burgundian red.”
The best veal I’ve had was at Kronehalle, Zürich’s famous fine-dining restaurant. I also think Zum Weissen Kreuz, also in Zürich, does an incredible (and much less expensive) version. Apologies to Zürich, though, the image pictured here is from the Bellevue Hotel in Gstaad, 100 or so miles away. This is perhaps my favorite Alpine dish. High-quality veal is cut into thin strips, gently sautéed in butter with mushrooms and white wine, and served simply over rösti (no surprise, we’re in Switzerland). I would go with the rösti, but you could also accompany this with spaetzle or rice or mashed potatoes. It feels hearty and hut-worthy, but still sophisticated (maybe because of the demi-glace?) and somewhat lighter than a lot of mountain cuisine. It’s appropriate no matter the season or occasion; consider it the Alpine version of a blanquette de veau (French veal stew).