Last week we got a recommendation from a pretty reliable source (more on that to come) to check out Au Chat Noir–a restaurant we pass by on a regular basis but have never actually entered. Au Chat Noir boasts an authentic French brasserie feel–wood-paneled walls and burgundy leather seats line the perimeter, the decor dated, the lighting warm, it’s just missing clouds of cigarette smoke hovering above its many patrons (though we are glad that part is absent).
The menu is small and quite simple–written daily on the few chalk boards positioned throughout the restaurant, dishes are created based on what’s in season and fresh. Each dish is carefully thought-through, cooked to perfection, and presented beautifully. The marriage of flavors found in each of the plates we ordered were phenomenal–the smoked fera on a bed of potatoes and the seared langoustine on squid-ink risoni were mouth-wateringly memorable.
The restaurant was packed full–every seat taken, creating an atmosphere full of energy and conversation. It seemed as if a large part of the clientele were regulars, being greeted with familiarity. The full crowd lent to a slightly rushed feeling when being served–if we hesitated even slightly when ordering, our waiter looked around at his other tables with unease. Our food arrived quite quickly, and was cleared away even quicker…a positive to some, but for us, we would have quite enjoyed feeling a bit more relaxed.
And while the food was exceptional, we must be honest when we say the prices were a bit steep and portions on the smaller side–even for Swiss standards. Entrées were in the mid-20 franc range, while main courses were between 46 and 54 francs. We are never against paying for high quality food, but let’s just say we won’t be coming here for every date night 😉
Overall, we have to say the food was excellent, the ambiance delightful (the dated decor actually lent to the authenticity and charm), and the energy refreshing. Au Chat Noir is definitely a Lausanne institution for a reason, and we can understand why our very reliable source sent us here–a local secret that lets its food do the talking and thus fills its tables each and every night.
Au Chat Noir
Rue Beau-Sejour 27, 1003 Lausanne
Reservations recommended: 021 312 95 85
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