There are few settings more beautiful than the banks of Lake Geneva, a place where time stands still. So, there could be no better view to gaze over from than the terrace at Le Jardin.
Dining out at the Dorchester Collection’s, Le Richemond is, of course, an experience. Head Chef Sylvain Bailly has a certain culinary finesse. He trained for six years with Alain Ducasse and his collaborators.
Le Jardin is a Gault et Milau winning restaurant and is listed in the Swiss guide. The menu is local and uses seasonal produce with a focus on fine Italian fare.
The dining room was beautiful: crimson and crystal detailed. But with only a few guests on a warm evening, the terrace is the only place to be. Private and calm, this ground-floor foundation has been central to the hotel for many years.
Rather than go in with a full Charles Campion appetite for the a la carte menu, we opted to let the chef’s menu do the talking. I find that the simple choice of letting the experts choose can sometimes be the best option. Chefs have a tendency to experiment with their day-to-day menus, trying out new culinary accoutrements and sauces that might well then disappear altogether.
Many years ago, when it first hit restaurant menus, I had a squid ink risotto. Sounds insipid, doesn’t it? Au contraire: it was quite the masterpiece. But can I find anywhere else that does it as well, or even comes close? Not in the slightest. The same can be said for Le Jardin’s ethereal strawberry gazpacho, financier moelleux and basil sorbet. I doubt I will ever find an eatery in the UK that will produce a dish of such mind-blowing edible artistry.
Effectively, the sorbet was encased in a sugar prison, and several bands of the finest sugar ribbon encased this delightful dish. The ribbon was even held together with sugar foil. This was a pudding-lover’s dream. And I must confess, I did look a little desperate crunching my way through large pieces of brightly-coloured pearlescent sugar. Then I remembered, I have absolutely no shame what so ever. Confidence is something that lesser mortals see as arrogance. It isn’t. I am simply self-assured of my place in life. And at that time, at that place, it was to push sugar ribbon into my mouth like a small child heading for a sugar tantrum or a coma.
Taking a step back and working in reverse, the roasted sea bream with bourride sauce and saffron vegetables was a light but delicious dish. I personally like a strong piece of fish. If you are going to go for something aquatic, it should have an undeniable aroma.
The amuse-bouche of ice green peas with mint, fresh goats cheese and crispy vegetables was a great opener, and the roasted scampi with bisque and seasonal mushrooms could have come in a feed bag and there still wouldn’t have been enough to satisfy my quickly developing addiction to them.
Marco Stigliani, our sommelier, paired the evening’s grapes perfectly. Light as necessary and full bodied when required. Either my ‘oh really’ face is getting better, or Marco recognised me for the wine connoisseur I yearn to be. I am always astounded by a sommelier’s ability to stand table-side and deliver a pre-prepared synopsis of the wine’s terroir convincingly. Marco garnered my attention perfectly, educating me whilst helping to inebriate me.
Le Jardin is rapturous.T: +41 22 715 7000 W: http://www.dorchestercollection.com Magazine Feature: http://issuu.com/thereviewmagazine/docs/the_review_q2_2014/98