What makes a three-star restaurant better than a two or one-star, considering the huge difference in price? My answer would be that in a three-star establishment there can be no mediocre dish on the menu, no errors in cooking time or service. Of course one can eat fabulously well in places without stars, but there will always be at least one dish that is not quite right, one slip in the service.
The fact is that Les Flocons de Sel above Megève not only deserves its three star, but is one of the more affordable of its category in France. I had the rare opportunity to lunch there twice within a week last month and enjoyed every dish immensely.
There are two fixed-price menus available, 95 and 200 EUR respectively, the former available only for luncheon, and a great bargain. It began with various and sundry amuse-bouche, all visually spectacular and delicious. To give an example, consider the porcini « chips », slightly sweet, and perfectly shaped to resemble the mushroom.
One of the greatest aspects of Emmanuel Renaut’s restaurant is its huge garden, splendidly planted with all sorts of exotic edible flora. He worked for years at Marc Veyrat’s three star near Annecy, one of the first to use wild plants and flowers, hence the starter of heirloom tomato with marigold and a tomato water ice cube wafer on top.
Particularly toothsome was the Lake Geneva whitefish (féra) salt cured and lightly cold-smoked, served with ground elder (égopode) butter. (Don’t feel bad, only an ethnobotanist would have heard most of these herb’s names. The important thing is that they taste good.)
Next up another lake fish dish, a “biscuit” of pike and burbot with an intriguing sauce of melissa and grilled onions. With these dishes we drank the wines of the proposed pairing and were quite pleased. The wine steward is affable, knowledgeable and helpful. If you wish to order bottles off the list you’ll have a huge choice ranging from local savoyard wines (I recommend the white Chignin-Bergeron and the red Mondeuse “Confidentiel”) to the finest of the finest, priced commensurately.
A perfect tender pigeon followed, poached and roasted, simple and succulent. This went swimmingly with the above-mentioned Mondeuse wine. The only tiny fault I could find is that I ordered it rare (rosé) and it was a slight bit more cooked than I had wanted. (If this happens to you, I recommend sending it back, as this class of restaurant aims for perfection and certainly strives for its customers contentment.)
The cheese trolley boasted many fine local cheeses, even some from our neighboring canton of Vaud. For us, the only observation we could make is that a greater variety of breads would be appreciated, though the one served was faultless.
Lovers of pudding will not be disappointed by the plethora of sweet offerings before and after the dessert proper. The Chartreuse parfait was so light and flavourful one must simply say : memorable.
On my second visit I ordered the 200 EUR menu with its ten courses which surprisingly enough was not too much food. If you go to Megève for lunch, I’d stick with the small menu for sure, a great bargain in fact.
Megève is itself a beautiful village, rather posh of course, having been launched by Noémie de Rothschild, and abounds in smart shops, delicatessens selling local and exotic products for the happy few, as well as many wine stores. Emmanuel Renaut opened a bistrot in town called Flocons Village where we dined one evening and were extremely pleased with the service, the neo-rustic decor, and of course the food, especially the most tender skirt steak (bavette) ever eaten. Wines by the glass are served within one minute, something this diner has almost never experienced. Kudos.