Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: Lausanne-Moudon Restaurant

Hunger is the best pickle.
-- Benjamin Franklin (via stanfood)

When guidebooks lead you astray and there is nowhere to eat in town, the end of your two-hour search will always taste pretty good. That is not to say that you should discount the restaurant's own skills - because the meat at Moudon was pretty darn good, not to mention super reasonably priced by Swiss standards.

To elaborate: after hitting up Vevey (and spending a lot more time reminiscing on the lakeshore than expected), we train'd back to Lausanne and went to the other half of the city to check out the Olympic Museum, in hopes of catching the last three hour ferry to Geneva and being the next Andy and Akiva. Then, we encountered the most disgruntled teen employee ever: he looked like Josh Peck (yeah, I watched All That! growing up) but with unwashed hair and a monotone voice. Clearly, he wasn't getting paid on commission, as he explained that we wouldn't make the boat, there was no student discount, and the boat was really long and really boring. No kidding, a three hour boat with no T-Pain on we did it his way and left.

Since we could now stay a few hours longer without the constraint of the boat, Erin and I decided to grab dinner. The goal: not to have to walk a mile uphill, again. But plans change. When we realized that our choices for dinner in the shopping district were limited to the Cactus Bar (fajitas for $34 and the ambience of a Hooters) or the classic fondue place (only with a man screaming "N'entrez pas! C'est terrible!") we decided uphill was the way to go. Specifically, we headed to La Pomme de Pin, in the Old Town, only to realize that it was closed this particular Saturday night. And our consolation prize, the cafe with curry gelato, refused to serve us a couple minutes before closing time.

Mild cursing ensued on the walk downhill.

We regrouped to find la brasserie Moudon, which was described in the Lausanne book as "a culinary experience for Lausanne gastronomy." But at this point, we were just relieved that the Cactus Bar was no longer an option.

The exterior of Moudon is a porched house, though it is located on a corner of a public square that tops a highway tunnel. That said, the house alone looks like something that could be plopped down in the Disneyland version of Liberty Square. A little kooky - haunted - but hospitable. We got our menus and raced to find suitable meals, but our timing did not match that of our waiter's, who arrived twenty minutes later. My stomach growling, I ordered the jambonneau roti au four (baked ham hock) while Erin ordered la filet du canard (duck). Again - another twenty minute wait - and then, gloriousness.

That is, a giant ham hock on my plate, coated with a grainy honey mustard sauce and accompanied with steamed veggies (not from Costco, but close enough) and potatoes. The ham was excellent; it fell off the bone and never necessitated a knife; add sauerkraut and you would had the perfect German meal. The relatively thin texture of the honey mustard didn't really match the robustness of the ham, so I stole Erin's honey-black pepper sauce periodically throughout the meal.
Speaking of Erin's honey-black pepper sauce, it coated, surrounded, and redeemed her duck, which was perfectly sliced if not rather tough. That sauce was the MVP of the game, really, followed by the au gratin that accompanied it (ten times richer than any dhall au gratin).
Both meals were at a good price (CHF $29.50 for the ham, $34 for the duck). As we found anecdotally, the further from Geneva, the cheaper the food - at least on the French side. Vevey actually had dinners starting at $17...

Accordingly, we ordered dessert; Erin went "weird" this time and went for the cigares du phraron, the most "exotic" item on the menu, which turned out to be nutty, hazelnut and almond
stuffed wafers in a Greek yogurt and honey dip. I went for the moulleux du chocolat, because it was the only word I didn't know on the dessert menu...with the 10-minute prep warning, I deduced that it was molten chocolate cake.

I actually preferred Erin's cigars to my own cake; her combination of nut-honey-cream was light and refreshing, though CHF 10 was pretty pricey for the quantity (3 small wafers). My molten chocolate cake (also CHF 10), of course, was the opposite of that; it was very rich, and while the chocolate was excellent (we are in Switzerland, after all), the cake was a little too floury and a little overcooked to provide a gooey consistency. The shot-sized vanilla ice cream was a good buffer for the richness though, if lacking in quantity.
Moudon left a positive stamp on our trip to Lausanne, but probably more from the recency effect. Meanwhile, we left Lausanne happy to return to the bevy of restaurants open Saturday night in Geneva.

Rue du Tunnel 20, 1005 Lausanne, 021.329.0471

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