Mention the words, Baur au Lac, in Zurich and locals will tell you it is synonymous with refinement and tradition. The venerable hotel opened in 1844 in Zurich by the lake. The Nobel peace prize was conceived at the hotel, whilst the world premiere of Wagner’s Die Walküre also took place at the hotel. They are also home to one of the finest restaurants in Switzerland, Pavillon. It has been lauded with countless plaudits over the years from 2 Michelin stars to 18 points in GaultMillau. Make no mistake, chef Laurent Eperon excels in delivering haute cuisine but it's served up in contemporary doses which dazzle your taste buds on every visit. His creations are even being served on SWISS air at the moment until the end of November.
Your senses are immediately stimulated the moment you step into their restaurant. The Pierre-Yves Rochon designed space is exquisitely elegant with vintage Lalique chandeliers, statement floral displays and a light-filled rotunda that lets you observe the immaculately manicured hotel gardens.
The contemporary touches are very much in evidence by their tasting menus. A vegetarian-tasting menu is always a huge positive at any Michelin-starred restaurant. Plenty of others have quite a sheltered vision and will only cook one fixed menu. The dishes on the vegetarian tasting menu also proudly stand in their own right and aren't a poor man's substitute for the meat and seafood version. Another positive is the option of having an all-Swiss wine pairing. Considering the Swiss only export around 1% of their wines abroad, it is always a genuine treat tasting their liquid gold which they deem too valuable to export. Provenance is so vital these days and they have a whole page on their menu dedicated to their suppliers, producers and origin. You will see, for example, all their meat is from Zurich or nearby Aargau.
They do make seasonal changes to their menus but what were the highlights? A deceptively simple gazpacho had a harmonious mix of the sweet and the savoury with the presence of melon, tomato and 36 months matured Serrano. Zander, a European pike perch was presented in a refreshing sashimi style and a Dublin Bay prawn from South Africa was packed with umami richness but lightened with an elderflower vinaigrette. Dishes are never over-packed with ingredients but it's about finding the right combinations and using the very best ingredients. Presentation is world-class and often resembles a Monet, the kind of dish you feel guilty taking apart.
The wines are well-paired and some are extremely local such as the Räuschling from Rütihof Winery in Zurich, The variety is only found in small batches in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It has an appealing crisp acidity which works very well with seafood and was paired with the Zander dish. You get to explore all regions of Switzerland with their wine pairing. The main course of Swiss beef prepared 2-ways was paired with a sturdier Vigna d'Antan Merlot from Ticino, which is the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Baur au Lac Head-Sommelier Marc Almert has been awarded the title "Best Sommelier of the World".
Their latest menu has more autumnal dishes like duck liver terrine and Austrian venison. There is a choice of 7 or 9 courses with or without wine pairings. I would highly recommend 9 courses and their cheese trolley is particularly impressive but prepare yourself by having a lighter lunch. Pre-dinner I would recommend arriving slightly earlier to check out the other venues too such as their brasserie, Baur's. The eye-catching colour palette, chic finishes and impressive Murano glass chandeliers are worth checking out even if you are not dining there.
Make sure you book well in advance for Pavillon, being a 2-Michelin-starred restaurant, it does get very booked up weeks in advance.