Every once in a while, we have a dining experience that is almost too much for words. The combination of the food, service, company, and overall ambiance topped off with a certain je ne sais quoi that leaves you begging for the evening to linger—one more taste, sip, conversation.
This was the case one late spring evening, when we made our way to a small ‘culinary community’ just outside of Lausanne in the neighboring village of Renens. An unexpected treasure that may feel familiar but is unlike anything we’ve encountered in this area before. Finally, after 3 years, we made it to LEGRAM – and as we said, it was almost too much for words:
Opened in June 2019, LEGRAM was first a combination of a café and restaurant, épicerie, record shop, and yoga/dance studio all housed under one roof. The concept evolved due in part to Covid, but also because the creators knew that their main goal was to establish roots, embrace change, experiment, and learn – and this is exactly what makes LEGRAM what it is today.
A restaurant led by head chef Alba Famos Viñals in the kitchen and founder Paul Marsden managing the floor, calling it a passion project would be an understatement. The focus of LEGRAM is to create cuisine that is farm to fork and fully traceable – producers, suppliers, all of it. “Our long-term goal is to have a direct line where everything is 100% traceable with the highest value of sustainability,” said Paul. They currently are around 95% traceable, which is extremely impressive, but Paul explained closing that 5% is a challenge when thinking about everything from cleaning supplies to meat. The respect they have for the products and the people who make them is clearly recognizable – with every dish served, there’s a personal anecdote about the farmer who supplied the meat, or the foraging experience that led to a specific mushroom. It’s an intimate and assumingly arduous way to run a restaurant – to be so connected to every step of the chain – but as a diner you feel that connection, and it creates a sense of honor and solidarity as you delight in every dish.
When walking through the doors of LEGRAM, you’re transported to the likes of Berlin, London, or Amsterdam – the warehouse-style entry, outfitted with vintage and thrifted furniture leads into an urban garden terrace complete with trellised walls and stringed lights. It’s an intimate atmosphere where different rules apply – like you’re meant to forget the societal definitions of what a restaurant should be, what creative cuisine is meant to taste like, and what hospitality is supposed to feel like. It’s unpretentious but curated; clearly, everything is a product of purpose, down to the smallest detail.
The building being an old warehouse isn’t really equipped with the type of kitchen most conventional restaurants have. A detail you would never know when looking at the plates arriving in front of you. In fact, when they first opened, Paul shared with us that they didn’t even have an oven, but cooked with a raclette machine. Again, a small but surprising detail when experiencing the inspired menu at LEGRAM which is influenced by global trends and local produce. This makes way for creations like the pissaladière with fresh sardines, the local lamb merguez cooked to perfection, and the creamy local burrata with preserved lemon and baked chickpeas.
All of this makes us wonder – what on earth would they be capable of if they had a fully functioning kitchen?
And by the end of this year, we may not need to wonder anymore. While we don’t have specific details, we can tell you that LEGRAM will be moving to another more central and bigger space in Renens, but Paul has assured us that they will maintain the same type of ambiance and concept. Keep your eye out, we have a feeling the team behind LEGRAM has some exciting things ahead. But in the meantime, go experience the magic at their current space. It may leave you at a loss for words.