Arriving at a mountain-top restaurant after an invigorating morning’s downhill ski action is one of life’s great pleasures. A vital spirit of collective adventure, vertical achievement and gorgeous detachment pervades the sun-trapping outdoor terrace. The sky is that gorgeous Mr Yves Klein blue that you only get in the Alps and you’ve swapped Oakley goggles for Tom Ford aviators. It’s not even midday, but you were on the first téléphérique out of the resort at 8.00am, so, yes, you are going to have a celebratory Aperol Spritz before you sit down… followed by a glass of red. Hang the new year diet as well. You’ve been doing moguls and black runs for half the day and the steak frites looks mighty fine. Some ski dinners are more life-affirming than others. Stay away from “libre service” motorway caff-misery unless you want to be surrounded by braying, rosti-scoffing Sloane families in DayGlo onesies. Instead, book ahead at a mountain restaurant that slaloms elegantly between contemporary gastronomy and slick, urbane service. Oh, and the decor should be ever so slightly time-warped in that golden age of jet-set glamour somewhere between 1965 and 1972. Cremeschnitte and a shot of schnapps. Ski back to the chalet as the sun sets at 4.00pm. Life tastes better at altitude. With that in mind, we’ve cherry-picked six restaurants that are worth forking out on a lift pass to eat at.
Author: Simon Millswww.mrporter.com
If a serve-yourself plate of spag bol, a dried-out half baguette and a can of Orangina are not enough of a reward for a morning’s mountain exertion, why not indulge, instead, in liquorice-chocolate sauce and marrow and lobster with honey vinaigrette, tempura batter and apple at Courchevel 1850’s two-Michelin-starred, ski-in, ski-out Le Chabichou? Situated piste-side in the heart of the upscale resort’s village, the hotel and restaurant’s distinctive Heidi-meets-Barbie, wedding cake-ish exterior makes it easy to find. If you do manage to secure a booking at one of chef Mr Michel Rochedy’s sittings, however, it’s probably best to change out of your snowy Salomons and slip on a fresh pair of Tod’s. This is mountain dining at its finest – luxe-farmhouse decor, crisp linen table cloths, silver service, beautifully arranged food presented under glass cloches – and is best enjoyed without the unsightly clutter of steamy goggles and sweaty gloves. Try the €70 tasting menu or the farm pigeon cooked in broad bean oil, pan-seared foie gras with crystallised roses… and try not to wince when you clock l’addition. Le Chabichou’s sister restaurant Le Chabotté offers a less formal atmosphere with a bistro-style menu, and is just a short schuss away down the road.
Designed by Austrian architect Mr Johann Obermoser, the Ice Q restaurant at the summit of the 3,048m Gaislachkogl is a Bauhaus glass box that delivers giddy gastronomic pleasures for lunchtime skiers. Inside, it’s all clean, contemporary Nordic chic and copper Tom Dixon lighting, but devour head chef Mr Patrick Schnedl’s truffle linguine or dry-aged rib-eye steak with béarnaise sauce outside on the cantilevered terrace and you’ll feel as if you are suspended in mid air, with nothing between you and the Sölden mountain slopes below. Don’t be intimidated by Ice Q’s proximity to the elements because this is ski dining that even extreme weather can’t spoil. With the $10m building resting on three pylons secured deep into the mountain rock, the whole structure can be moved up and down depending on snow and permafrost levels. Mr Daniel Craig made an appearance here while filming Spectre when Ice Q was remodelled as a coldly chic and strictly alcohol-free psychiatric clinic for the super-rich. Thankfully, the restaurant’s cocktail menu now offers a martini – shaken not stirred. Well, of course it does.
Situated in Funäsdalen, 360 miles from Stockholm, Ramundberget is among the most snow-secure resorts in Europe, guaranteeing winter sports enthusiasts action from early November right through to May. Restaurant Tusen offers these hardy sorts somewhere warm to stop for Scandi-cool lunchtime sustenance. Breaking from the chalet-influenced tradition of alpine restaurants, Tusen’s award-winning tipi-like design was inspired by the homes of northern Scandinavia’s Sami people, with rough-cut birch trunks forming the exterior. Inside, it’s all moss and lichen tones with locally sourced food – reindeer stew and trout soup – served on stone plates. An upper area has windows intended for stargazing and imbibing cocktails under the Northern Lights. And even though it’s remote and 1,000m above sea level (“tusen” being Swedish for one thousand), the restaurant still manages to be eco-friendly with heat exchangers buried deep in the ground and water sourced from a nearby spring.
Photographs of visiting celebrities, dignitaries and mountaineering heroes line the walls of Rifugio Emilio Comici high up in the Val Gardena region of the Italian Dolomites. Formula 1 drivers, rock stars, skiers, Euro-royals – pretty much everyone seems to have clipped out of their Rossingnols and headed for the blue shutters of this Italian classic. Named after legendary climber and renowned Casanova Mr Emilio Comici, the restaurant at the foot of the huge Langkofel rock has been a Dolomites fixture since 1955. Go up the stairs to a cosy, club-like restaurant that specialises in fish – octopus, langoustine and scallops are delivered daily all the way from Venice – or dance in your ski boots at the recently added outdoor champagne bar downstairs. If you can tear yourself away from the sheepskin banquettes and copious glasses of Spritz Veneziano with Pink Floyd’s Mr Nick Mason and Prince Albert of Monaco, the luxury refuge’s extraordinary loos – like something out of Mr Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon movie – are also well worth a visit.
Take a lift from the picture-perfect village of Mürren, 2,970m up the Schilthorn peak and you arrive at the Martini-ad splendour of Piz Gloria, perhaps the world’s most iconic mountain-top restaurant. You might remember Mr George Lazenby’s James Bond being choppered in for an encounter with Mr Telly Savalas’s Blofeld here in 1969. The megalomaniacally vertiginous building was cast as a baddie lair thinly disguised as private allergy clinic in the daffy On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The name Piz Gloria was Bond author Mr Ian Fleming’s invention. A keen skier himself, he got the idea for the location while staying at the Schloss Mittersill sports club in Austria, which was later closed down by the Nazis during WWII and converted into a sinister research establishment. The Mürren locals kept the name after the film crew departed and, rather thrillingly, much of Blofeld’s Piz Gloria remains. Order a schokolade (hot chocolate) at the café and you’ll notice, as the restaurant gently revolves to provide a 360-degree mountain panorama, that the distinctively kitsch copper filigree work you can see in the scene where Bond has dinner with a United Nations of rude-food-scoffing dolly birds still skirts the circular dining room. On a sunny day, you can nurse a stein of lager and tuck into a James Bond Brunch on the very deck where a caped and bespectacled Mr Lazenby indulged in a bout of curling. If you are still feeling fresh, tackle the formidable Inferno run (as skied in a chase scene from the film). At 2,000 vertical metres and 9.25 miles long, this thigh burner has staged the longest annual Alpine race since 1928.
The jet-set brutalist design of Restaurant Chetzeron may not be everyone’s idea of winter luxury, but Swiss architects Actescollectifs’ conversion of a former gondola station into stone-clad restaurant and mountainside hotel is certainly a stark change from the standard-issue, chocolate-box alpine diner. At 2,112m above sea level, all 16 rooms and suites have panoramic views of the Rhône Valley. The peaks of both the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc (and maybe even the Crans Montana house that belongs to Sir Roger Moore) are visible from the three levels of outdoor terraces around the hotel. Visiting skiers (or walkers coming from the nearby Cry d’Er cable car) can enjoy sheepskin throws, hammocks and sun loungers while gorging on fragrant slow-cooked beef with fried gnocchi, or lamb stew with thyme and polenta. Wine is sourced from the local Valais area. Wear Aztech Mountain and accessorise with Persols.