Perched up in the small hamlet of Les Moussoux, boasting wonderful views of the Chamonix valley and its imposing mountains lies the Auberge de Bois Prin, a five-star hotel with a wonderful restaurant.
The cosy atmosphere of this traditional Alpine chalet hits you right when you enter its driveway, surrounded by tall firs decorated with fairy lights. The wooden building was turned into a hotel in 1976 by the Carrier family, owners of the Hameau Albert 1er Hotel who still run the place today.
Their small restaurant serves some of the most imaginative Savoyard cuisine you can find in the valley, and chef Denis Carrier prides himself on using mostly local and organic produce, much of which is grown in their own kitchen garden.
Having heard great things about this restaurant, we head there to celebrate a special occasion. The dining room is a warm space featuring big windows overlooking the Chamonix valley, with simply but immaculately dressed round tables and a relaxed and calm atmosphere, free from the stuffiness of other fine restaurants. Although they have recently lost their Michelin star, both food and service were amazing, with no noticeable difference compared to other starred restaurants I have been to.
There are three menus to choose from: A large tasting menu, the 'Clocher du Brevent' (the Brevent Bell Tower) which we chose, and a slightly smaller tasting menu which consists of just a main and dessert or cheese. You can choose to have wine pairing with the Clocher du Brevent or the large tasting menu.
We chose the 'Clocher du Brevent' with wine, which included an amuse bouche, two starters, two mains and two desserts to choose from, plus a cheese selection. Since there were five of us, we decided to make the most of it and taste the whole range on offer. Throughout the three-hour long meal, all the courses and wines were carefully presented to us with explanations of their origin and how they worked together.
To start we were served an aperitif of goat's cheese mousse with nuts, and home-made grissini with smoked lard, both of which were really tasty and melted in the mouth. They were followed by the amouse bouche, a really smooth and subtle cauliflower cream with caviar, which complemented really well the sweetness of the soup with its delicate saltiness.
For starters, I had home-smoked salmon with Haute Savoie chicory salad, a stunning combination of flavours, while others chose the duck foie gras from Les Landes with fennel and cranberries, served with warm toasted nut bread. Apparently it was the highlight of the dinner, to the point that they were eating it in really tiny bites to prolong the enjoyment. Our very attentive sommelier chose two different whites to accompany this first dish, a dry Loire and a sweet honeyed Savoie which went really well with the food.
Having lived in the valley for over a year, I was looking forward to trying the 'lotte' (burbot) fish from nearby Lake Léman. I found it to be much tastier than any other sweet-water fish I have ever tried, and the white butter sauce and leek it came with were delicious. The veal breast stuffed with olives and served with buttery crushed potatoes was also very good, and it was paired with a soft red Val du Rhone wine, while the fish came with a crisp Belgian white white.
My brother had been dreaming of being presented with a well selected cheese cart ever since I moved to France, and he did not miss this opportunity. All of the cheese varieties, except for a couple, were made just within a few kilometres of the restaurant, with goat chevrotin from Les Houches and Aravis, tomme from Vallorcine and a great spicy Beaufort. They were accompanied by home-made orange jam and nuts, and a sharp red Savoyard wine.
Despite the fact that we really struggled to finish all of the cheese, there is always space for dessert, especially for the light and fresh mango salad with Madagascar vanilla ice cream that I ordered. There was also a moist walnut cake with blackcurrant ice cream and chocolate orange sauce on offer. The sparkling rose and muscat they were served with were the perfect ending to a flawless meal.
At 67€ per person including four different wines, I thought it was really good value, and knowing that most of the ingredients at this Savoyard feast are sourced locally and produced according to organic standards even makes you feel pretty good about spending three hours just eating and drinking. All in all, it was a night we will remember.
They are closed on Monday all day, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday for lunch. You can book a table by ringing the restaurant or visiting their website. And if you go on a Sunday you will get the opportunity to try the traditional Savoyard 'farçon', prepared with potatoes cooked for hours in a thick cast-iron pot with meat and fruit from the restaurant's garden (gooseberries, blackcurrants, pears or cherries).