Plate With View: Le Deck, Chexbres, Switzerland
Saturday 23 February 2008
High above Lake Geneva sits the Baron Tavernier Hotel, recently refurbished with a bright, contemporary decor and lots of dark-cane armchairs and cushions several feet deep. There used to be a simple terrace overlooking the lake across the road from this bijou hostelry, originally built for 19th-century tourists. Today the owners have spared no expense in decking it over and swathing it in white sail-like awnings to create one of the most sought-after eating areas in the Lavaux region. They've even relaid the road outside in deep pink asphalt to give guests a red-carpet welcome.
Old brass telescopes are mounted on the perimeter wall for those who want to study the lake, and there is an infinity wishing-well, surely a first anywhere in the world. This shallow trough between the lounge bar and the restaurant seems to merge with the lake below, and gains a generous number of coins every day.
Staff are dressed in Navy-style whites, to further reinforce the impression that we are all on the deck of a sailing ship, floating not on but above Lake Geneva.
The menu offers a nightly three-course Menu du Corsaire, but Le Deck is best known for its range of international dishes: Andalucian gazpacho, Greek salad of feta and Peloponnese olives, Parmesan carpaccio of beef and Cavaillon melons. Fresh fish from the lake, such as perch, pike and whitefish, is also a speciality.
The wine list is similarly wide-ranging, but no one should miss this perfect opportunity to try the local Lavaux wines – seven appellations each using Europe's oldest grape, the Chasselas.
Immediately below Le Deck is the vineyard of Daniel Rogivue et Fils, which tumbles down 600ft of stone terraces to the pantiled and shuttered village of Rivaz. The juxtaposition of terracotta tiles and iridescent green grapes is stunning, especially with the calm azure blue of Lake Geneva beyond.
To the west, Vevey (the setting of Henry James's Daisy Miller) is visible, with Montreux beyond, while on the opposite shore, the French Alps rise up impressively, with the spa town of Evian-les-Bains at their base. The view reminds you that the Swiss definitely have the best side of Lake Geneva. These gentle, fertile green hills enjoy a stunning view of Alpine mountains, with none of the inconvenience of living on them.
The Menu du Corsaire costs Sfr 70 (£28), otherwise expect to pay Sfr 110-Sfr150 (£44-£60) per person, depending on wine selected.
Le Deck, Route de la Corniche, Chexbres, Switzerland (00 41 21 926 60 00; www.barontavernier.com) Open daily, 11am until midnight, from April to September
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