As soon as temperatures get cooler, a strange phenomenon takes place in Lausanne: everyone starts to feel like eating a fondue.
It’s one of the simplest dishes in the world that can be briefly described as half Gruyère cheese, half Vacherin Fribourgeois, pepper, a clove of garlic, white wine and bicarbonate of soda.
Of course, you can change the blend of cheese or add to the recipe with tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots or kirsch, champagne or beer instead of white wine.
Know, however, that even in its simplest and most traditional version (the “moitié-moitié”, or half-and-half, that is), you’ll rarely get no for an answer when you suggest a fondue. Even in summer. That’s because the half-and-half is to melted cheese what Federer is to tennis: an undisputed reference.
Prepare yourself (and your stomach): we’re taking your taste buds on a tour to sample the best “caquelons” (i.e. fondue pots) in town.
This place’s recipe is as simple as it is efficient: take everything you imagine a Swiss chalet to be and put it in… a Swiss chalet.
Geraniums on display, an interior decorated with cow bells, a massive fireplace, wooden furniture, red placemats and of course cheese and caquelons!
On the menu, there is a choice of 10 fondues to be tasted to feel Swiss right down to the tip of your fork. It’s very simple, for those who know nothing about Switzerland, the only items missing for a complete Swiss experience are watches and chocolate.
Near the Café Romand, you’ll actually find watches (Bucherer, Rue de Bourg) and chocolate (chez Blondel, also Rue de Bourg).
Since 1951, it’s one of the most representative bistros in Lausanne.
From 4 people upwards, a half-and-half (Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourgeois) fondue can be savoured in a very light traditional meal, after a platter of air-dried meat from the Grisons and followed by meringues served with double cream from Gruyères.
Amateurs of goat cheese, rush to La Bossette for its “cabriole”, a blend of creamy Alpine cheese that is served with a ladle over steamed potatoes. For purists, there are nevertheless the bread and fondue fork options.
To enhance all that, the owner will bring you olives and sun-dried tomatoes, while suggesting you accompany your cabriole with a glass of rosé, “to carry on with the Provençal theme”. And even though La Bossette is better known for its choice of beers, you could do worse that give in, and you know what? It’s a great idea!
In the summer, enjoy the terrace with its colourful chairs to digest in the sun!
It’s the oldest café in Lausanne. While the upstairs room has been modernised and lets you admire the superb stained-glass windows, it’s the ground floor that makes the Pinte Besson worth visiting. You’ll be catapulted in 1870, in a cellar bar atmosphere.
The small room, shaped like a corridor, is an excellent place to immerse yourself in Lausanne gastronomy, deep in the conversations of regulars and tucking in to a delicious fondue with morels and cognac.
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The largest choice of fondues is to be found at the foot of the old town: 13 different suggestions, from the traditional half-and-half to a mild curry one to a 100% Vacherin Fribourgeois version served in a “hat” of bread.
The warm welcome and the view on the Cathedral make the climb worthwhile, while the small terrace, hidden behind the café and shaded by trees, is most certainly the cutest as well as the least known in Lausanne. A good address for lovers of melted cheese who wish to eat one even at the height of summer.
Oh, and some advice that goes for all these addresses: don’t lose your piece of bread in the caquelon. If you’re sharing a table with purists, that affront will earn you a penalty like buying a round of drinks.
What are your favourite places to go and eat a fondue in Lausanne?