Plate With a View: Carlton Sun Terrace, St Moritz, Switzerland
Saturday 27 December 2008
The best view in swanky St Moritz is from a terrace overlooking the lake.
The Carlton Sun Terrace opened last December at the St Moritz Hotel, which was built as a holiday home for Tsar Nicholas II. Here the troubled monarch could forget the turmoil of pre-revolutionary Russia
On the eve of the First World War, his summer home was sold and turned into a hotel, one of the resort's five luxury properties that has competed hotly for the beluga-for-breakfast market over the past 100 years or so.
The new tsars of Russia are already block-booking the place, with many of them turning up in their private helicopters.
The terrace is a deceptively simple wooden deck, surrounded by a low glass wall that overhangs the front of the hotel at first floor level.
Tables and chairs are in matching wood, and camel-coloured lap-rugs are supplied to keep the clientele warm. Levels of service are exemplary and every guest is greeted with the words "welcome to paradise".
Executive chef Alexander Kroll sets out to overwhelm the palate in the hotel's two restaurants and out on the terrace. An indulgent lunch might start with gazpacho (SFr18/£11.20) or a Caesar salad (SFr32/£19.90).
Main courses include perch fillet in caper-tomato broth with basil and potatoes (SFr48/£29.90) or a delicious grilled turbot with chilli and chanterelle risotto (SFr58/£36).
Finish off with a Toblerone mousse (SFr16/£10) – this is Switzerland after all.
Wine by the glass starts at SFr8 (£5), as does bottled beer. A flute's worth of champagne begins at SFr17 (£10.60) and a basic whisky at SFr13 (£8). But beware, the whisky selection is excellent so you could easily end up trebling that price.
In summer, the view of Lake St Moritz is everything you might expect of Switzerland: deep blue water reflecting a single cloud in the sky, with the small town huddled on the shore and coniferous forest running a few hundred feet up the mountain slopes.
Maybe it's just a touch too tranquil. In winter, however, the lake is transformed into a major recreation area, an icy routeway with files of people crossing like L S Lowry's matchstick figures.
It's fascinating watching life passing by and, if you're lucky, you may even catch thundering hooves during the Cartier Polo World Cup, or a thoroughbred race during February's White Turf International Horse Races.
Allow SFr140 (£87) per person for a three-course lunch, with a minimum of SFr20 (£12.50) for drinks. A glass of champagne will round up the bill to SFr180 (£112).
Carlton Sun Terrace, Carlton Hotel St Moritz, Via J Badrutt 11, St Moritz, Switzerland (00 41 81 836 7010; carlton-stmoritz.ch). Open daily 7.30am-6pm, weather dependent.
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