Discover local Swiss foods from the canton of Neuchâtel at the Hotel Palafitte.
Europe’s only hotel built on stilts
In the French-speaking city of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, you can find the only hotel in Europe built on stilts at the Hotel Palafitte. This five-star hotel sits on the shores of Lac de Neuchâtel, the biggest lake contained entirely within Switzerland. Its restaurant, La Table de Palafitte, underwent a complete renovation in recent years. Given its emphasis on local and seasonal products, I gladly accepted an invitation to dine at this restaurant, which has earned 14 out of 20 points from Gault & Millau.
The interior of the restaurant has a modern, sophisticated interior with yellow hues, earth tones. Since it was a beautiful summer evening, the hostess led my husband and me out to the terrace. From our table, we had a spectacular view of the Alps across the lake. Nearly all the tables were filled outside that night with couples and groups of families and friends.
Le Bar at the Hotel Palafitte
While we bypassed the bar on the way to the restaurant, I thought it looked like a great place to grab a drink after work. Also, the bar has an absinthe fountain, should you desire to try it out. According to the bar menu, it stocks three different local absinthes: Bovet, Larusée and Kübler. In May 2016, the cocktail of the month was the Sainte bleue, made with Larusée absinthe, lemon and pineapple.
The bar has indoor and outdoor seating. You can order from the bar menu starting from 11:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. On the menu, you’ll find dishes that also highlight regional products. These include dishes such as the Bleuchâtel burger, made with a local blue cheese (CHF 36). You will also find a sandwich wrap made with féra fumée, a smoked lake fish (CHF 28).
La Terrasse at the Hotel Palafitte
To accompany my meal, I had a glass of of 2015 Pinot Gris from Château d’Auvernier. It had earned a Selection Or (gold selection) from the canton of Neuchâtel in 2016. The restaurant also has a special offer of three wines from the region for CHF 29.
Almost immediately, our server brought us a delightful amuse-bouche. We kicked off our meal with non-alcoholic shots of a lightly sweet watermelon purée. Alongside them, we received a savory biscuit topped with whipped goat cheese. I found it a nice combination for a warm summer evening outside.
For my first course, I selected the tarte tatin. This dish layered fresh tomatoes with goat cheese and jambon de Vaumarcus (CHF 24). Surrounded by arugula and a basil vinaigrette, the toasted bread had a slightly sweet taste. It paired well with the savory ham and cheese. The special Spanish-style raw ham comes from Les Frères Alcala. You can often find it at Aux Gourmets in Neuchâtel. I loved this dish. It was fresh and colorful, and I would definitely order it again!
Following my first course, I had the pike quenelle with a crayfish emulsion (CHF 38). You can find pike in Lake Neuchâtel. The waitress arrived with a small bowl of rice and a steaming pot of quenelle in a brownish-red sauce. I really liked the delicate flavor of the fish with the rich flavor of the velvety crayfish sauce.
To conclude our dinner, I ordered a smooth and creamy dessert laced with absinthe and topped with a cylinder of shaved chocolate (CHF 12). It had a light green hue, as this highly alcoholic beverage is nicknamed la fée verte (the green fairy). While the dessert was delicious, I thought it could have used more absinthe (my husband thought it was perfect, however).
Excellent food and great service
That night on the terrace at La Table de Palafitte, everyone was taking photographs. The Alps, visible in the distance, took on a peach and rose-colored glow as the sun began to set. Overall, we had exceptional service at this restaurant, with friendly and attentive waitstaff. It was one of our best dining experiences in Switzerland so far.
A big thank you to La Table de Palafitte for a special evening!
- La Table de Palafitte, Route des Gouttes-d’Or 2, 2008 Neuchâtel, +41 (0)32 723 02 02, palafitte.ch/en.
- “Modern elegance and tranquility at Hotel Palafitte on Lake Neuchâtel” – my article via Newly Swissed
- Neuchâtel – Vin et Terroir
- Neuchâtel Tourism
Updated: December 29, 2022