One of Chamonix's most impressive buildings sits in the heart of the town, facing Mont Blanc and enjoys a great deal of sunshine on the terrace. Known to many for it's 'Tequilla Tuesdays', La Terrasse is not only a good spot for some apres ski, but also a good coffee stop, brunch venue and now Chamonix's newest tapas bar.
On a Friday night, early on in the winter season, we decided that a cosy bar with some good hearty food was needed to warm us up, ready for the weekend of skiing and snowboarding ahead. La Terrasse, in the centre of town, did not disappoint! Having been recently re-decorated and with a new manager in place, it is sure to be one of the popular places for this winter season. The cosy interior is fresh and welcoming, and the 'Friends' style sofa in the window makes you look forward to the those snow blizzard days when all you can do is hole up and lounge about drinking coffee with friends.
The atmosphere on Friday night - although fairly quiet as it was still early season - was very laid back with friendly bar staff, some local faces propping up the bar and a few tourists enjoying an early drink. Having been into La Terrasse on many a crazy party night, I was surprised at how inciting it was as a dinner venue. The tapas style menu is served every evening between 6pm and 8pm, and after ordering our drinks at the bar we took a table near the front window to have a look at what was on offer.
The menu has good selection of meaty and vegetarian tapas options, with some traditional Spanish dishes and others with more of a French twist. We were slightly concerned that tapas wouldn't fill us up and so we went ahead and ordered three dishes each, whilst thinking we could always order more later on... How wrong we were! Each dish is a decent size and in fact in the end we couldn't even finish it all.
The bar staff were great at suggesting what might be good, and even took our order at the table, despite the menu saying that you should order at the bar. They really couldn't have been more helpful. We started with some home-made hummus and warm French bread, and it was tempting to fill up on the bread right away as the hummus was so tasty. But luckily the other dishes started to arrive and we began to spread the love a little.
I had ordered a vegetarian mushroom frittata, and some patatas bravas to sample the more traditional style of tapas and both were delicious. The potatoes came with a thick tomato sauce and fresh herbs on top - the healthy portion size was rather lethal as they were really addictive. I guess one of the great things about tapas is being able to share each dish and to have a bit of a taste of everything and we certainly took advantage of this. My friend had ordered the sticky sesame pork belly and some meat balls, which again were really good portion sizes and he polished them both off happily. It was his first time tasting pork belly and the bite sized balls seem to disappear pretty quickly!
As if this wasn't enough we had also ordered a whole baked camembert. This came with an onion chutney and a sweet spicy sauce that was amazing and had just the right amount of spicy kick to it. The staff brought over some more warm bread for us to dip into the gooey camembert and I think I got a bit carried away with this dish and was unable to eat much more after I'd devoured it.
Each dish ranges between €2.50 and €5.50 (with the baked camembert being a bit more expensive at €8.50) which means you can eat well for between €10-15 euros each. It was a nice treat to have something different from the usual Savoyarde style offering and it certainly felt healthier than the standard apres food of chips, chicken wings and nachos.
The only downside I could find was that they don't offer pudding! Although, to be honest I don't think I could have fitted one in... The bar staff did ask if we could be tempted by a coffee or even a cocktail afterwards though, and I think that a cocktail may well be the way to go. At least that way you can continue your evening, rather than rolling home and heading straight for the sofa. Which is exactly what we did! With full stomachs and our appetites satisfied we were happy to call it a night and rest up before a great weekend on the slopes.
Location: Chamonix - Centre