After listening to Pierre-Antoine Rovani rave about Philippe Rochat, the sous chef for Freddie Girardet for over two decades, I finally returned to a restaurant where I had enjoyed some of the greatest meals of my life under the cooking of Girardet. Rochat is every bit as good as advertised. A spectacular chef, he delivers three-star cuisine as well as service at a level that is rarely equaled by similarly starred restaurants in France these days. The menu was stunning. My favorite courses included the lobster and crab, the awesome gâteau of cépes, the mussel dish, and the dynamite jarret of veal. I was also blown away by the selection of Swiss cheeses, which were the best I have ever had in my life.

As for the wines, the Petite Arvine 2001 from Besse was a delicious, fruit-driven, dry white from Switzerland, but the most glorious white was the 1996 Comte Lafon Meursault Perrières. We then proceeded to an elegant, but somewhat disappointing in the context of the vintage (I have always thought so), the 1998 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf du Pape. It was easily surpassed by the brilliant 1999 Châteauneuf du Pape from Domaine de la Mordorée Reine des Bois as well as the magnificent 1989 Réserve des Céléstins from Henri Bonneau. The latter wine was decanted several hours in advance. After the celestial Céléstins, it was a little hard to return to the outstanding 1999 Domaine Bonnefond Côte Rôtie Les Rochains, but after a few sips, it was clear this wine was top-notch as well. I remember enjoying the sweet 1999 Petite Arvine Grain Noble from Chappaz, but I don't remember a whole lot about it ... for obvious reasons.

This great restaurant unquestionably provided me with one of the finest culinary experiences I have had in Europe over recent years. I'll return in a few months to taste what I am told is the dish to die for (literally), Rochat's stuffed pig's foot with truffles.

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