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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Val D'isere (France)

A last attempt at this terrible ski season 2010/1011 brought me, and seven others, to one of the highest points in France, Val D'isere. In between taking in the slopes (which by the way were perfect Spring ski conditions), and sampling the drinks, the next important thing was of course the food (how can it not be in France!?).
Below are some of the places which we visited over the three/four nights in Val d'isere. As none of us were locals, I cannot say if these restaurants are "popular" or the "place to be". Some were recommended, and some we just walked into. 


Crepe Val's
Address: Immeuble Les Verdets, 73150 Val d'Isere, France +334 79 41 14 62 

This little place really does look like a Creperie, and at this stage of the night (after having left one restaurant as we felt the menu was too vast with different cuisine options i.e stake tartar and Thai rice on the same page (?), can't be that good when the chef has so many choices) we could not be fussy. But we were pleasantly surprised. With a big group it is hard to find a restaurant to fit us at 8.30pm, but Crepe Val's was happy to accommodate although they looked super busy.

This being our first French dinner in Val, we decided to opt for a starter of Fondue, and Raclette (note  however that this restaurant specialises in Crepes. It has over three pages of different filling combinations, and they all look tasty! So maybe swaying from the dominant food item on the menu was risky..but it paid off) Normally the fondue/raclette is charged on a per head basis (c22pp) , but our waitress was happy to accommodate for us to share one of each dish.

The fondue was a little too stringy (it should not resemble mozzarella, I thought we were in France).
The Raclette was served to us in individual plates, as there was little room on the table. Practical idea, but would have been nicer to scrape the cheese ourselves (that's the point). Apart from that, it was served with a nice selection of meat, gherkins, pickled onions and baked potato. Very satisfying!
 There was some Steak Tartare lovers in our group, and therefore, with the comfort of 'tartare' experience in the group, I decided to order my first EVER steak tartare (18Euro)! We were in France after all!
With the egg yolk on top, served with cheesy potatoes and a selection of a spices and condements (onions, capers and other seasonings), it proved to be a good choice. The trick with this dish is the quality of the meat itself, as the rest of the taste can be mixed to your liking. The tartare was good, but apparently not the "best" ever had by the experts at the table. I, myself enjoyed it, it was tender with minimum to no fat, and the creamy potatoes balanced the dish quite well. 

I definitely recommend this place, and would love to have tried the crepes also (maybe next time).

La Taverne d'Alsace
Tel: +334 79 06 48 49

My second Tartare experience was at La Taverne d'Alsace. This restaurant is part of Hotel Kandahar, and serves a range of French "brasserie" dishes. Items on the menu included traditional French calves head, pasta, polenta and fish dishes including sea bass with risotto. The seasonal white asparagus was on special for entree, served with creamy chive sauce. The creaminess of the sauce and the soft texture of the Asparagus balanced well together. However the asparagus might have been slightly over cooked.

The steak tartare (now that I am more of an "expert") was a lot more tender than the one from Crepe Val's, however had slightly more fat in it (slightly). Slight as it was, it still once managed to get stuck in my teeth.

Overall, the service was exceptional, there was never an empty bottle of water on the table. The atmosphere was romantic (even with 8 of us on the table). La Taverne d'Alsace oozed with warmth, good wine and an array of tasty food (agreed by all at the table. Sorry no pictures, but check out the website) Dishes ranged from 18 to 25 Euros.

The Canyon
Address: Grande Rue, 73150 Val d'Isere, France Tel: +33479061819

This restaurant was on the same street as our hotel, and a place to literally pass the time while waiting to be able to check in. The outdoor seating area proved to be a blessing in the afternoon sun, and the beer tasted good after our 5 hour journey from London.

We had to fill our stomachs. I ordered the duck, which I thought was a safe option as the French know how to cook a good duck!

Although the duck was tender and falling off the bone (perfectly cooked), it was slightly too salty, and the side vegetables (carrots), were overcooked and soggy. Further, I asked for potato instead of fries, but as you can see, the fries arrived anyway. The backed potato soon arrived after me reminding the waiter, and was perfectly cooked and oozing with butter. I didn't get charged for the mix up.

The rest of the group opted for slightly easier options with burgers and pizzas, however one of the burgers was mixed up with a pizza order and therefore we had one of us sitting with no food for a good 10 minutes (it was not busy).

The gap was definitely filled, but I think we were more satisfied with sitting in the sun after a long day of travel.

Avoid if you want to enjoy a delicious meal.

La Tete de Solaice
Situated right on top of the piste to the right of the Solaice chair lift. This restaurant/bar really oozes with  'high class' restaurant and actually makes you forget that you are still sitting at the table in your full ski gear (boots and thermals the lot). Skiing is definitely a sport where the 'classes' meet as one, and this place would be one of their meeting points.

Maybe this feeling is created from sitting in a restaurant made entirely out of glass (apart from the roof), and therefore basking in the amazing scene of snow and mountains all around you! Tete de Solaice also has a huge terrace to enjoy the sun, as well as a bar, a pizzeria, and a self service cafe if you don't want to waste any time (really one for all).

I ordered the 'Pan fried veal and kidney with Morel mushroom sauce, mash potatoes and white truffle oil' for 31Euros. The 'Beef fillet topped with pan fried fresh duck livers served with foie gras toast and glased with a red wine sauce' would set you back 38Euro, while the 'Serlion steak with mushroom cream sauce' was 27Euros (a popular order among the group). Other orders from the table included 'Italian veal stew served with fresh pasta' at 28Euros.

Pan Fried Veal and Kidney with Morel Mushroom Sauce, Mash Potatoes and White Truffle Oil
The whole meal was balanced perfectly. The tender veal and the slight yet robust flavour of the kidneys worked well together with the smooth morel mushroom sauce. The mash potato is a good hearty side dish for the slopes, but always works well with kidneys to balance the flavour.
The Sirloin looked great, although some comments included that it had slighlty too much fat, and therefore was difficult to chew.
A nice little gem to finish off the meal was this chocolate bomb dessert for 8Euros.

It came out on the black board as a white chocolate sphere. The waiter quickly took the jug of hot milk-chocolate and poured it over the ball to create the above effect. Very eye catching, and quite tasty. Filled with custard and strawberries it was one of the best 8Euros we spent on the holiday.
Though the atmosphere and the food were collecting quick brownie points, the service was not. One of our waiters clearly thought he was on par above the rest (attitude wise), and had to be reminded about drinks and an order of ice (which I was depending on from a minor ski incident).  That said, one can't be fussy on a mountain. The food speaks for itself.
Check out their website here 

Le Bistrot Des Cimes
Address: Immeuble Les Cimes, 73150 Val d'Isere, France +33479061797

Sister to Restaurant 1798, which was booked out during the time we went out for dinner. We arrived at around 8.30pm and the place was empty, maybe everyone was at 1798. When there are eight of you, it doesn't really matter (we make our own buzz), and the emptiness could've been due to the late time in the season. The staff were friendly and smiley and that is all that mattered. The French Onion soup came out luke warm, and therefore the fatty texture of the broth was quite evident. The cheese toast within the soup was slightly tough. 

The duck however, served with either green beans, fries or cheesy potatoes was tender and moist, falling off the bone, with a crispy skin. Truly divine. 

The roclette, shared between four people, was authentically served between a pair of hot plates so the cheese naturally oozed onto the plate. 

Overall the price was in line with the rest of the restaurants around the area, and mains ranged from 20 to 35 Euros. 

Patrick Chevallot BP316 – 73154 Val d’Isère cedex +334 79 06 16 09

Chavallot deserves a mention as this was our place for breakfast every morning before heading to the slopes. Entering into this bakery one is lip-smackingly overwhelmed with an array of pastries, breads,cakes and tortes. Colourful is an understatment. You really don't know what to order as everything looks amazing. The bakery has been open since the 60's. From the website: 'Patrick Chevallot is one of the best 'Ouvrier de France' pastry chefs. Definitely don't miss this lace on your way to the Solaice and Olympic lifts!

Other tips:

Quartier de l'Illaz Val d'Isère, 73150 France

We arrived at 2.30pm thinking to get in an afternoon ski session. We were greeted with an empty service desk, and a phone number which was not connecting. (Note hours of work 8-12.30pm: 4.30pm-8pm -no point trying to get that early flight)
One roll of toilet paper per room (four people), with no replacement. The interior is slighly out of date and the pool looks MUCH better in the pictures. I would say the apartments are ideal for two people (ski locker confirms this), as with four it was a little cramped, although do-able if you dont mind sharing one room to sleep (and taking up boots into the apartment as they could not all fit in the locker). One apartment was 600Euros + 12Euros local tax, for four nights (sleeps 4). Towels and linen provided. Ideal for a last minute reservation and if you don't plan to spend a lot of time indoors. Walking distance to bus stops and Olympic and Solaice lifts. Booked through

Sarl Alpinecab
Chalet Les Iris La Beunaz St Paul en Chablais 74500 FRANCE Tel/Fax: +33450731938

Friendly, flexible service. I would have emailed/called them several times to confirm and change the reservation (6 people are hard to coordinate).Private transfer in a van was 700Euros return as its around 2.5-3 hours from Geneva airport. Works out to be 60Euros p.person for six people each way. Not bad considering the time taken.

Apre Ski:
 A must for Apre ski is La Folie Douce. Check out their website here. Although we didn't have time to enjoy the food at Folie Douce (and I am sure it would deserve a mention), we definitely made sure to make our way down there for the last 1-2 hours of the afternoon (La Folie Douce closes at 5pm with a 'bang'). You can ski down to town afterwards, or get the lift down right next door. Pints of beer were around 10Euros, but below really speaks for itself:
DJ, violins, and drums!
If you want to see the performers after hours, they are usually at Cafe Face.

Other things to note:
  • 3 day ski pass 117Euro
  • 3 day ski hire 70Euro (with discount)



  1. omg that chocolate bomb looks amazing!! making me hungry and it's not even 10am here...

  2. Foodie Cravings,

    it was amazing! it came out as a white chocolate sphere, and the waiter poured the hot chocolate all over it!