Last weekend, while it was pouring down rain we attempted to walk around the morning market, navigating our strollers through the cobble-stoned streets one-handed while the other held an umbrella…a lost cause really. We ended up soaked, grumpy, and longing for an enclosed space in the city where one can unwind with children present. We know: it seems like a stretch.
But then we remembered a friend suggesting this place, just up in Mont-Sur-Lausanne. She mentioned it was kid-friendly, the food was on point, and the decor resembling something you’d stumble upon in Brooklyn or SoHo. It kind of sounded too good to be true, but when you’ve got soaked kids and limited options in the city, it’s time to check out new digs.
Pulling up to Chez Tof is kind of a funny experience. We passed it a few times before realizing that it’s actually resides at the base of an apartment building. But don’t let that small detail throw you off–once you walk inside, you’re greeted with a a gorgeously decorated, open interior; a mix of iron and wood, concrete and steel with a luminous art installation sprawling across the ceiling. There are high bar tables, large family tables, and even a cozy corner with a couch and upholstered chairs next to a decked out bookshelf.
The service was friendly and ultra accommodating–even to the point where they didn’t blink an eye when we immediately ordered a large plate of frites because #kids. And the food? Oh goodness, the food. We’ve found that in order to earn the “family friendly” descriptor, establishments often have to sacrifice the quality or complexity of their menu. At Chez Tof, it’s the exact opposite. It’s a place that serves authentic French brasserie food with all of the flavors you’re hoping for (and then some)–from snails, bone marrow, and rabbit stew in a cocottee, to steaks and gourmet burgers.
The other thing we appreciated about the menu was the children’s offerings. It wasn’t chicken fingers and buttery pasta (though yes, we recognize that sometimes that’s ALL our kids want to eat)–it was fresh seasonal grilled veggies, perch from the lake or kid sized burgers, and a panna cotta to finish things off. Everything was beautifully seasoned, full of flavor, gorgeously presented, and a big hit with our littles.
The Cocottee of rabbit made “grandmother’s way” with mustard cream sauce and seasonal veggies.
The Bone Marrow cooked with bear garlic–we didn’t partake, but one of our husbands said it was absolutely delicious!
The Tof Burger–caramelised onions, maréchal cheese, grilled bacon. It was definitely one of the best burgers we’ve had in a loooong time.
Our kids made friends with other kids, scurrying from the coin des enfants back to the table for quick bites between games and book sharing. Adults were drinking bottles of wine and cocktails (during lunch–hallelujah!), eating slowly, sharing forkfuls of food across the tables, laughing and savoring both the flavors and the ambience. We looked around and realized: this is a special place. A place for the first time, in a long time, we were able to have a delightful meal, both adults and children. We walked away and one of our little ones looked up at us and said, ‘Let’s come back soon. I have so many friends here. And the fish is so yummy!’ If that’s not a ringing endorsement–we aren’t sure what is.
The enclosed kid’s corner, complete with an art and activity table, plenty of books, toys, and even a car to ride!
Fun fact: the chef (Christof–get it? Chez Tof?) made the tables from old wooden wine boxes.