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Where to Go Next: The Alps

Courchevel | Cortina | Gstaad

Courchevel, France

Le Cap Horn Two years ago, Le Cap Horn, high on the slopes above Courchevel, stopped serving the kind of dishes typical of mountaintop restaurants in the Savoy region of France—cheese fondue and sausages—and began emphasizing seafood. The less-than-conventional menu and the nautical decor may seem a bit bizarre in the Alps, but perfectly prepared fresh fish and pasta with black truffles or lobster sauce are welcome at any altitude. Outside, the style is alpine chalet, with fabulous panoramic views from the deck. The wine list is among the best in the Courchevel area. DETAILS Altiport; 011-33-4-79-08-33-10.

La Saulire Chef Benoit Redondo took over the kitchen here, in the center of town, in 2002. Since then Redondo has added more cosmopolitan dishes to the menu of fondues and cured meats. Among the chef's specialties: a rich, earthy cèpe mushroom consommé with mini beaufort-cheese ravioli and a tender duck breast fillet with green-pepper sauce served with creamy, finely milled polenta. (Polenta is as popular in Savoy as it is in northern Italy. If you want seconds, just ask.) The restaurant bar is a great place to hang out and sip Champagne with friends. DETAILS Place du Rocher; 011-33-4-79-08-07-52.

Le Chabichou In 42 years in Courchevel, the Rochedy family has transformed a cozy chalet into one of the Alps' premier restaurants. Le Chabichou is one of two Courchevel hotel restaurants with two Michelin stars. (The other is Le Bateau Ivre at La Pomme de Pin hotel.) From the complimentary tangy anchovy and grainy black olive pâtés to main courses like crayfish risotto with foamy mushroom sauce and grilled asparagus tips, chef Michel Rochedy's food deserves the honors it has received. The wine list is extensive; the cellar is worth visiting to see vintages dating back to 1929 and rare wines such as the 1970 Romanée-Conti at more than $9,200 a bottle! DETAILS Quartier Les Chenus; 011-33-4-79-08-00-55.

Le Chai des Chartrons A quiet après-ski spot, this wine bar opened two years ago in the cellar of the wine store of the same name. An extensive selection of French wines is available by the glass or the bottle. Among the choices are Seyssel mousseux, a sparkling wine from Savoy, and the local Chambéry white vermouth. To accompany the wines, Le Chai des Chartrons serves a variety of simple but tasty snacks, including snails, local beaufort and reblochon cheeses, breads and olives. DETAILS Rue des Tovets; 011-33-4-79-00-36-53.

Le Kalico This combination bar-café-restaurant is always buzzing, from lunchtime, when skiers and snowboarders fill the terrace overlooking one of the slopes that runs through town, until 4 a.m, when the giant television screen finally goes dark and the music stops. The food is uncomplicated—pizzas, salads and Tex-Mex dishes—the prices are moderate, the service is informal and the crowd is young. DETAILS Le Forum; 011-33-4-79-08-20-28.

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Tivoli Since chef Graziano Prest took over Cortina's only Michelin-rated restaurant in 2002, he has held onto its star with creative cooking that showcases regional ingredients. For one impressive main course, he prepares lamb from nearby Alpago five ways: grilled with sage, braised with mint, breaded and roasted, in a sausage, and raw in a vinegary sauce. DETAILS 34 Via Lacedel; 011-39-0436-866-400.

L.P. 26 This stylish addition to Cortina's après-ski scene has been a hit since it opened two years ago. One of 10 restaurants in the Dall'Ava chain, which specializes in cured meats from Italy's Friuli region, this wine-bar-cum-café features unusual cured meats and salamis of wild boar, hare and venison. DETAILS 26 Largo delle Poste; 011-39-0436-862-284.

Da Aurelio Rifugio Piezza It takes remarkable food to match the view from Da Aurelio, high in a pass in the Dolomites, but chef Luigi Dariz succeeds. Innovations like a four-course menu built around porcini have made this one of Italy's finest mountain restaurants. DETAILS 5 Passo Giau, Colle Santa Lucia; 011-39-0437-720-118.

Hôtel de la Poste Opened in 1835 as a stop for mail coaches, this hotel blends Belle Epoque grandeur with a chalet feel. Visit the splendid dining room for chef Gianfranco Faustini's superb veal Milanese. DETAILS 14 Piazza Roma; 011-39-0436-4271.

Pasticceria Lovat This is the place for breakfast—delicious Italian and Austrian pastries, from apple strudel to doughnuts, and Italian- or Viennese-style coffee, coffee with malt and hot chocolate. Other tempting choices: pine-nut cheesecake and almond-hazelnut cake. DETAILS 65 Corso Italia; 011-39-0436-3307.

Panificio Alverà Head to this family-run bakery for puccia, Cortina's whole-grain bread with caraway seeds and sometimes raisins or bacon. Dry, crunchy puccia secca makes a tasty snack with drinks. If you're staying in a condo with a kitchen, buy some of the first-class Austrian-style dumplings filled with cheese, spinach or bacon. DETAILS 191 Corso Italia; 011-39-0436-862-166.

Al Camin This old Cortina favorite is justly famous for local specialties like penne with wild mushrooms, and game, especially alpine hare, which is served with polenta. DETAILS 99 Via Alverà; 011-39-0436-862-010.

Gstaad, Switzerland

Spoon des Neiges Chef Alain Ducasse's ever-expanding Spoon empire has arrived in the Swiss Alps. The new outpost is at Le Chlösterli, an 18th-century chalet near Gstaad reinvented by designer Patrick Jouin as an alpine-kitsch fantasy. The menu features dishes like Lapsang Souchong beef consommé with mushroom ravioli. DETAILS Le Chlösterli, 3783 Gsteigstrasse, Grund; 011-41-33-748-79-79.

Berghaus Wasserngrat The magnificent views from the terrace are only one reason to visit this mountaintop classic. Since 2001, chef Michael Kneubühler has revitalized the food, from hearty Swiss bread-and-cheese soup to steaks with a rich Champagne-mustard sauce. DETAILS Wasserngrat; 011-41-33-744-96-22.

Chesery Gstaad's hippest scene is in a converted cheese dairy. Robert Speth—who earned Chesery its Michelin star in 1998—cooks French-Swiss dishes like an outstanding steak of Alpine free-range Simmental beef. Start off with thin shavings of the local hobelkäse cheese. DETAILS Lauenenstrasse; 011-41-33-744-24-51.

Prado The talented Matthias Droz serves sophisticated dishes, such as snapper simmered in tapenade, at the year-old Prado in the luxurious Grand Hotel Bellevue & Spa. DETAILS Hauptstrasse; 011-41-33-748-00-00.

Olden Housed in the cozy hotel owned by Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, this restaurant is more about low-key elegance than flash. Chef Tobia Ciarulli creates rustic dishes with excellent local ingredients, such as his ravioli with fresh herbs and sérac, a white, strained sheep's-milk cheese similar to ricotta. The wood-paneled bar is a relaxed meeting place for après-ski aperitifs. DETAILS Promenade; 011-41-33-744-34-44.

Charly's Tea Room and Confiserie Locals and ski-season visitors tend to order coffee, rather than tea, at this perpetually trendy café. The selection is stunning: mille-feuilles, croissants and pain au chocolat as well as alpine specialties like nüsstorte, a rich walnut-and-caramel cake, and a layer cake flavored with cherry liqueur. details: Promenade; 011-41-33-744-15-44.

Fiona Fleck is a freelance writer based in Geneva.

Published December 2004
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