This Review of Restaurant Focus at the Park Hotel Vitznau is from our 2019 visit to this 2 Michelin star restaurant, helmed by Chef Patrick Mahler.
Restaurant Focus Location and Hours
Restaurant focus is located on the ground floor of the Park Hotel Vitznau, the best luxury hotel in the Lake Lucerne area, and one of the best hotels in Europe.
The restaurant is open for dinner only, starting at 7pm. Currently, through December 17, 2019, it's open Wednesdays-Saturdays, and closed Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. For the festive season, from 12/18/19-1/4/20, it's open daily. Then from 1/5/20-3/17/20 the restaurant is closed on its “Creative Break,” and the schedule starting 3/18/20 hasn't yet been announced.
Restaurant Focus Menu and Food
Restaurant Focus offers tasting menus starting from 3 courses for CHF 160, up to 6 courses for CHF 230 per person. Here's the fall menu:
It's also possible to go a la carte, which is what we did. These were the summer a la carte choices during our visit:
I liked that we were offered oshibori (hot towels) at the start of our meal, to cleanse our hands; this is typical at fine restaurants in Asia, but rare in Europe, even at Michelin star restaurants.
But what really absorbed our attention was the quartet of incredible amuses bouches. Perhaps my personal favorite was the oyster with beetroot and caviar.
A firm second, and my son's favorite, was the beef tartar with parmesan and a generous shaving of black truffles. Normally he would be a bit squeamish about it, since it's raw meat, but this version was the best any of us had ever tasted.
The other two amuses bouches were creative and tasty as well: duck liver cream with hazelnut, topped with kumquat:
And a “Macaron” of dashi, fresh tuna and kimchi:
I've often thought you can judge the quality of a Michelin restaurant by the bread(s) offered–it's akin to the tamago sushi at a sushi bar, in terms of a benchmark–and Restaurant focus delivered.
First came some piping hot, almost croissant-like rolls with fleur de sel. It was so tempting to take our friendly server up on his offer to provide more, but we knew we needed to save room for the actual dishes we'd ordered.
Next came more fresh housemade bread: a warm buckwheat sourdough, served with parsley butter, smoked cottage cheese, and my favorite, an addictive herbaceous lemon mustard dip.
At last we came to the dishes we'd ordered. I'd opted to try a vegetarian dish of artichokes, potatoes and mushrooms, with parmesan. After all the richness of some of the amuses bouches and the buttery bread, it was the perfect light and flavorful main.
That said, the favorite of the night was my husband's braised beef ravioli with a shower of black truffle shavings. We later learned that it's such a popular dish among the restaurant's regulars that the Chef hasn't dared to remove it from the menu, and we can understand why.
Our son was happy with his more basic kid's pasta and broccoli:
We concluded our meal by sharing a cherry dessert: a cherry souffle, with refreshing shiso ice cream, cherry mousse, and a buckwheat cherry drink. We enjoyed the contrast of flavors and textures of this summery conclusion to one of our favorite 2-Michelin star meals ever.
Restaurant focus at the Park Hotel Vitznau was incredible. It wasn't overly formal, as you can tell by the unadorned wooden tables, and the fact that they were welcoming of our son, who was able to order a simple kid's pasta dish. But from the superlative quartet of amuses bouches to the warm, croissant-like rolls and buckwheat sourdough bread with smoked butter and herb dip, to my husband's umami-rich beef and truffle ravioli to the dessert, it was a sensational meal. Don't miss it–if you visit Switzerland and you're a foodie, you need to dine at least once at Restaurant focus, and stay at the Park Hotel Vitznau.
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