Monday, January 31, 2011

Neuchatel: La Maison du Prussien

La Maison du Prussien is a small, country hotel and restaurant half way up the mountains in Neuchatel. Referring to the Prussian origins of the city of Neuchatel, it offers an interesting respite from the travels across the Swiss Jura and watchmaking districts. Many watchmakers are based in La Chaux du Fonds/Le Loche area, just minutes from the hotel. As are the manufactures in the city of Neuchatel. I was visiting with some friends an independent watchmaker by the name of Kari Voultilainen, a Finnish gentleman, who is a superb watchmaker and lives in the town of Motiers, some 45 mins drive away.

la maison du prussien nauchatel

We checked into the room was no 3, just above the restaurant, and the accomodations were very large, especially by Swiss standards. The timber floor was charming, and there was even a large jaccuzi in the bath. The restaurant in the basement had the reputation of 18 Gault Millau points, so it promises some interesting dining.

The amuse bouche was a combination of pates...all smooth, rich, and originated from fruits and vegetables.

amuse bouche at la maison du prussien nauchatel

The menu looked heavy, but rather interesting, and I was assured of an gastronomic evening. I started with what I perceive what the menu (in French only, no English) describe as a salad of endives and lobster.

salad of endives with lobster at la maison du prussien nauchatel

What an interesting dish. A web-wall of sugar protects the creation from being directly assulted by the diner...a curious leaf of endive sticks out from what seemed to be a rather generous serving of lobster. The wall was crisp, hard, and sweet, of course. But it lends well to the taste of the lightly poached lobster, which was bursting with rich savour flavours as a fresh lobster ever could. The endive was more a decoration, and tasted like, well an endive leaf. Nice salad, even if there was more lobster and fanfare than salad. Enjoyed it.

For my mains, I had the beef with cheese...this was a heavy dish, Kari warned...but at the time of ordering, I thought it a good idea. But first the wine..

savigny les beaune at la maison du prussien nauchatel

We consumed 2 bottles over the course of the evening. The first was in magnificent form. nice round tannins, with a beautiful nose reminiscent of berries. The second bottle was rather more powerful in its tannins, biting the tongue. On the palate it remained the same. We discussed this a bit, as we also found it strange that the sommelier told us that our taster need not taste the second bottle as he had already tasted it himself and declared it fine. Odd, as our taster had tasted and approved the first bottle, and eventually we found the second bottle to be inferior. But not wishing to cause a scene, we went along silently.

fillet mignon of beef at la maison du prussien nauchatel

A thick slice of beef, cooked very nicely medium rare...a bit more medium than rare...but nicely done indeed...

detail showing cut fillet mignon of beef at la maison du prussien nauchatel

The meat was magnificent. It literally fell off its sinews and almost melted in the mouth. The cheese provided able support with richness, and a saltiness which is characteristic of well matured cheese. I found the dish delightful, but after about 3/4 of the dish, I felt it was a bit too heavy, and could not finish it.

For desserts, we had an interesting sorbet of 4 mushrooms...

dessert sorbet of 4 mushrooms at la maison du prussien nauchatel

Interesting dish, allowing the flavours of the mushrooms to show. Obviously hand made in the kitchen by the pastry chef, this provided a nice round-up to the heavy meal.

Petit Fours were served, and as is typical of a high end restaurant, featured some hand made candies by the pastry chef:

petit fours at la maison du prussien nauchatel

Wonderful dinner, albeit a bit heavy. Perhaps I should have elected to go with the scallops instead of the beef. But overall, excellent service, great cooking. Fine food.

Hôtel-Restaurant La Maison du Prussien
Rue des Tunnels 11
CH-2000 Neuchâtel
Tel. +41 (0)32 730 54 54
Fax. +41 (0)32 730 21 43

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