Mountain-top dining: the best high-altitude restaurants

    23 January 2019

    Cucina Angelina – Courchevel, France

    The most Courchevel of all this glamorous resort’s on-mountain offerings is, indubitably, Le Cap Horn. From its 2,100m vantage point, the restaurant provides views of the local private airport, where any pilot who successfully negotiates the dangerously short, sloping runway deserves a generous tip from their client, especially if it’s one of the oligarchs who regularly drop in for lunch and a look at the famously pricey 500-bottle wine list. British holidaymakers may be more at home at the nearby La Soucoupe, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stopped off recently. The moudin – a soft, light black pudding served in apple and chestnut sauce – is well worth a try, as is warming yourself by the open fire at the heart of the main dining room. But it’s in the village of Courchevel 1650 (the little brother to the more glitzy Courchevel 1850) where you’ll find the best food – at Angela Hartnett’s Italian-influenced alpine outpost, Cucina Angelina.

    An Dining – Niseko, Japan

    If you’re in search of snow, there can be few better places in the world to ski than on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido. Cold air from Siberia passes over the Sea of Japan and deposits vast quantities of powder with monotonous regularity. The dining, however, while often good, is varied — in price, style and setting. The best food in this international resort is the work of a Hokkaido local, Shinichi Maeda. At An Dining, which is housed inside the boutique hotel Ki Niseko, he creates dishes such as wild Hokkaido clam, sea snail and scallops using local ingredients, and sometimes foraging for seaweed and interesting flora himself.

    Experimental Chalet – Verbier, Switzerland

    More of a hotel than a chalet (it has 39 rooms) and not all that experimental (the Experimental Group is tried and tested, thanks to an existing portfolio of restaurants and hotels around the world) – but what this new hotspot lacks in verbal accuracy, it makes up for in style and swagger. It takes over Verbier’s premier boite this year, the legendary Farm Club, where David Bowie and Diana Ross are just a couple of the boldface names to grace the dancefloor during its 40-year history. The restaurant, meanwhile, is all new and headed up by head chef Gregory Marchand, who was a protégé of Jamie Oliver before forging his own reputation at Frenchie, with outposts in Paris and London.

    Bearfoot Bistro – Whistler, Canada

    Wedgemount Lake, Whistler

    A Whistler institution where diners can sabre the top off a Champagne bottle in the wine cellar before dinner. Afterwards, you can choose to don one of the restaurant’s long, fur-trimmed white parka jackets and step inside a special ‘ice room’ made in partnership with vodka brand Ketel One. It’s cooled to -32C, the shot glasses are made from pure ice and all the flavours and varieties of vodka slip down quite easily.

    La Chaumière, Courmayeur, Italy

    In years gone by, Courmayeur might have been overlooked by skiing’s glitterati in favour of the Verbiers and Courchevels of this world. But there are signs of change, including a brand new, upscale five-star hotel, Le Massif, which has just opened. The hotel has sveral dining options, but perhaps the best bet for now is still the famous La Chaumière restaurant, which combines influences from both sides of the French/Italian border in its traditional Val D’Aosta cuisine. From the chestnut gnocchi to the chocolate cake with genepy sauce, local ingredients feature heavily. Inside there’s a large, bustling bistro full of rustic wooden furniture, but the 200-seat terrace on the slopes is marvellous on bluebird days and, for non-skiers, can be easily reached via cable car.

    Game Creek Restaurant – Vail, Colorado, USA

    On winter nights this log cabin nestled high up in Vail’s Game Creek Bowl is only accessible by snowcat (although in the summer you can hike or go on horseback during the day) so it feels like a comforting pocket of light and warmth on the mountain – and nothing at all like the isolated hotel from The Shining! The food is all-American fare, with dishes like wild boar, rack of Colorado lamb and, of course, plenty of steak.

    Le Refuge de Solaise – Val D’Isère, France

    At 2,551m, that lunchtime glass (or two) of red is likely to go straight to your head. But so will the view. Le Refuge de Solaise, which opened this season and will see the addition of a brand new hotel on the same site next year, is the highest proper restaurant in Val D’Isère and combines some of the finest views on the mountain with trusty dishes like steak tartar and Milanese-style veal escallops.