Owner Marc Cornaz
La Cezille's signature dish is Jambon á l'Os
La Cézille
Meat Eater's Paradise

Those who drive frequently along the road between Gland and St. Cergue know that it is essential to slow down as you approach the hairpin turn just above Begnins at La Cézille. This is not just because the turn is sharp, but because of all the people - many of them elderly -- who are trying to cross the road to get to the restaurant and butchers' shop on the other side.

The Café-Restaurant du Moulin, more commonly known simply as "La Cézille," has a three generation, nearly century-old reputation for serving up hearty simple fare in classic vaudois style. "We have stuck to our traditions, because that is what people keep coming back for," says owner Marc Cornaz.

Located a few kilometers beyond Begnins, La Cézille is a "lieu dit," a place name for a small spot on the map that does not have any political status. What this means is perhaps best expressed on the website of the Commune of Bassins, which states "La Cézille has -- and consists of -- a restaurant and butchers shop."

Botato or Boutefas, the traditional fat vaud sausage wrapped with a single string, has been known in this region since at least the 17th century. The name comes from the patois for "boute la faim" or "end to hunger."

Armand Cornaz, the grandfather of the current owner, founded the Café du Moulin around the turn of the century as a small bistro next to what was then an active flour mill. His son Pierre studied to become a boucher-charcutier, and opened the butcher's shop in the early 1960s. Marc Cornaz, the third generation owner, has been in charge of the restaurant and butchers shop since 1995.

The specialty of the house is "Jambon á l'Os, sauce champignons" (ham on the bone, with a mushroom sauce)" served with french fries, or, if you order in advance, potatoes gratin (gratin de pommes de terre). This stick-to your ribs meal is preceded by an appetizer of Botato (The local word for Boutefas, the classic fat-bodied vaudois sausage) and salad and an easy on the wallet price tag: CHF 23 for the full menu, CHF 20 for the ham only. The restaurant offers special discounts for the elderly on presentation of an AVS card.

Another specialty is Fondue Chinois (CHF 30), which must be ordered two hours in advance. Meat is the main point at this restaurant, but there are also a few vegetarian dishes such as tagliatelles aux chanterelles or morilles.

La Cézille is an unpretentious spot, set in the countryside, with a shaded terrace, and no-frills café-style interior. The rear part of the building was originally a wine cellar and has an attractive vaulted stone ceiling.

Next door, inside the old mill, is the vast butcher's shop. Step through the carriage door, and enter another era. Long gleaming counters display meat in splendid variety: every imaginable cut of beef, pork, ham, sausage and paté. Smoked hams hang from the ceiling, and Botatos dangle from a special exhibition rack. Three or four aproned butchers in dapper red and white striped shirts are wheeling vast carcasses into the cooler. Behind the counter one is bravely tackling an immense pig head.

There is also a take out service, a side of the business that has grown in recent years, Cornaz says. The classic Jambon á l'Os, boiled twice a day in huge cauldrons here, can be ordered to go - but you must call in advance. The price is 7 CHF a portion. "It should be eaten with a local Pinot or a Gamay," counsels Cornaz. "These are wines which are not to heavy, and which go very well with ham." Botatos are naturally also available (see recipe for preparing Botato/Boutefas), as are a variety of other dishes ranging from Roti de Porc avec son Jus, Gratin de Pommes de terres (5.50 a portion), or a Salade de Magret de Canard fumé.


Scottish Highland Cattle
A new breed of beef in Switzerland

The meat is all locally grown, and the emphasis is on natural production. One current special is beef from Highland Cattle, shaggy long-horned beasts which can be seen grazing on a steep field just behind the restaurant. "My neighbor Roland Haefeli was the first farmer in Switzerland to import this race from Scotland,"explains Cornaz. "Like sheep and goats, they are what we call débrousailleuses, they eat everything. The animals spend their entire lives in the pastures. They are not artificially pushed, or stressed".

What makes the beef special is that it can be aged twice as long as ordinary beef. "It can be kept on the bone for up to 6 weeks, and looses very little weight,"says Cornaz. The result is a tender, tastier steak.

La Cézille, 1268 Begnins
Telephone: 022.366.11.68
Telefax: 022.366.1665
e-mail: cezille@swissonline.ch

Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday
Credit Cards Accepted




January 27, 2001