Veyerier du Lac

Laurent Grasso -- Studies into the Past  2014

Laurent Grasso — Studies into the Past 2014

 

Two stars have risen in the East, of France, and we ought to have brought frankincense and myrrh with us. These were the two Michelin stars that were awarded to the very young chef, Yoann Conte, who replaced the venerable Mark Veyrer at Veyerier-du-Lac in the French Alps . Mark Veyrer was disabled two years ago in a skiing accident, and Yoann Conte was brought in, and, despite his age, knocked two stars out of the ballpark almost immediately.

The restaurant is pure Alpine decor with a huge terrace right on Lake Annecy. A bunch of young waitresses in extremely tight black pants with no discernible hips and identical blonde chignons add sophistication to an otherwise simple set of rooms. Simplicity starts and stops with the decor, as the well-turned-out staff and totally open kitchen reveal a hustling scene behind its glass wall, with chef Conte’s station facing the dining room in order to watch me swoon over every bite taken.

I was reminded of Jerry Weisman’s recent article in his august review about chefs combining all sorts of exotic ingredients, resulting in experimentation to stimulate themselves, rather than satisfying the palates of their patrons. Yoann Conte’s cuisine is edgy, but he never crosses the barrier from tasty to taste-assaulting. His flavors hint at a touch of this and a dash of that, but remain within the jurisdiction of perfect French food.

I had the lacquered langoustines d’épices, perfectly prepared with the spices not quite definable, after a parade of adorable looking and succulent amuses bouches. On our second visit, as we sat gazing out at the lake and feeling totally relaxed and sated with all sorts of wonderful tastes, I asked Sydney, ” Do you realize we haven’t even started our meal yet?”

The fera from Lake Annecy is superlative; the texture is just what you want in your mouth and the flavor light and mild. A sabayon of banana guacamole was a surprising, but perfect accompaniment. I had it once cooked and another time marinated, one preparation better than the next. Sydney had the St. Pierre with wild mushrooms, and another time turbot with pumpkin. I had lacquered duck with foie gras and a truffle flavor somewhere.

I was brought an impressionistic plate of carrots, which I don’t eat, but turned them over to Sydney who kept sighing and uttering words like “Divine,” “Really good,” “Are you sure you want to give these away?”

Desserts, which I also don’t eat, were irresistible, so I relaxed my strictures and had prune ice cream with fresh figs. Another time, blanc mange with a hint of rosemary, a dish I loved as a child but as an adult have been unable to find a proper recipe to cook.

Perhaps, it was being there in Indian summer with the sun sparkling on the waves, but whatever the reason, the ambience around the lake is quite gay, almost giddy. The surrounding mountains are filled with paragliders, whose flights are mesmerizing. The water supports every kind of pleasure boat and water sport. Happy crowds mill around the seashore. We were almost in a wedding party that took off in a motor launch after a brief ceremony, the bride’s veil wrapped around her so it wouldn’t drag in the water.

Yoann Conte is among the top chefs of France, and although his cuisine demanded our attention and our appreciation, the happy times we had at both lunch and dinner made these meals unforgettable.

Walda Besthoff

 

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4 Responses to “Veyerier du Lac”

  1. sounds as if y’all were in a dream…divine!

  2. This is such dreamy culinary writing. It’s as fine as the meals sound. Thanks for transporting me to a meal in the French Alps.

  3. Oh Walda, what an exquisite review. All the food critics in the world can put their pens down!

  4. BRAVO, Walda! You entwine food with life, and penned us all into your happiness. I hope you can tell from all the love-note comments…..:-)

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