A restaurant by night, tea salon in the afternoon and artistic concept store simultaneously. Stumbling upon Alpenart is 100% of what you call a successful discovery. Val Thorens had been missing exactly a spot like this one, till Aurélie Rey, the daughter of the resorts first mountain guide, opened this fusion of art exhibition, gourmet café, restaurant and sporadically a yoga meet up as well.
When you come inside you’ll be caught up by the design of the venue. Three lounge rooms with every corner, each table, and all seats having their own charm. The furniture is an eclectic mix: from animal furs, wooden colorful tables, differently styled lounge chairs and couches to the slightly industrial bar spot when you come in. They appear randomly thrown together but at the same time exquisitely chosen to match each other by contrast. All walls differ as well, splattered with paintings by the owner herself and further works by local artists.
The first time we came because of the free wi-fi and enjoyed an evening sip and treat alongside our phones. But upon the first glance of the beautifully arrayed desserts (amongst them also vegan and gluten free choices), the glassed wine chamber and, in my case, the hot chocolate menu we realized that our trip to Alpenart was about much more than staying online. Soon we came as often as our appetite allowed. Well and timing – because I would have definitely tried the regionally altered galettes (savoury buckwheat crepes) or sweet crepes in a wink, but at lunch time we were busy mastering some mogul slopes across the valley.
The local wild-blueberry tart was our first hit: slightly cooled, perfected by a thin layer of custard cushioning the berries from the crusty base. The chocolate tart was also great: a fudgy consistency with good dose of walnuts and whipped cream topped with chia seeds. And nothing better there is, than those steaming hot chocolates in a ski town. Too awesome of a selection to really decide, and the choice of four different milks didn’t make it easier. I happily ended up with the ‘Himalaya Salt’ one day and the ‘Dunked Gingerbread’ the other day. (On my list for next year are the mint flavored, coconut milk fusion, whipped cream, cinnamon and white chocolate sorts.)
On those after dinner sessions, us couch potatoes had been watching other people order their Savoie tapas off the chalk board. That made us quite jealous. So we decided to reserve our last supper for Alpenart. Only then, we got to appreciate the full depth of their concept. The owner and her two younger partners represented this place to its full extent. Although everything is set up in a fancy way, it’s not a place for snobs, but one for gourmets who appreciate artisan work. That’s exactly the way we felt treated here. The sommelier Cassandra, turned out to be an acquaintance of our ski teacher (Flavien Pyard). She shared all her knowledge and experience and gave the wine tasters of my group perfect recommendations for a wine that even I liked. The three women, together with the chef, create and inspire a menu which puts a dainty and individual twist on the heavy Savoyard cuisine.
Our Supper: We started with these eye-catching aperitifs, Spritz is the kind they drink here.
Next we shared the tapas salmon bites. The doughy soft brioche, was contrasted by the fresh zingy salmon with avocado and hints of mint, passion fruit and coconut. The mint especially captured our palate. Next the salad, adequate amounts of fresh lettuce in a mingle of avocado, raw salmon, nuts, and large slices of goat cheese. These ingredients weren’t just decorative toppings, but had a legit ratio, and the dressing gave it a subtle finish.
As plats principaux we savoured the innovative but regionally inspired dishes. An Alpine Burger with Beaufort cheese. It had a tender patty with a char-broiled crunch on the outside and tasted like a real burger should taste like, only with a prettier appearance on complementing dinnerware and a side of yummy (you guessed it) french fries. Our other selection was the Beaufort risotto made with crozets. Crozets are an oldie for Savoie, dating back to the 14th century. They are little flat square bits of pasta, typically made of buckwheat and in our case melted with Beaufort cheese and dried meat to resemble a risotto. This fusion was like fine dining mac ‘n’ cheese on the highest imaginable level. That description should not devalue this plat, because we all, who dislike American mac ‘n’ cheese, thought it was spectacular.
And after tipsily finishing off the last bits of wine we had enough space for dessert again. We wanted to finish off with their superb wild-blueberry tart but also tried something new: the fluffy raspberry tiramisu parfait – It looks large, but was quite light and fruity so just as dainty .
Where? Place Caron, 73440 Val Thorens (just by the slope, down the stairs from the church, close to the Ski School and Skiset Goitschel)
Their Facebook (check for upcoming events)
If it were mine: I would open earlier in the morning so customers can sip a hot chocolate on the slope and savour crepes or others breakfast before a busy day of skiing.