Now THAT’S What I Call a Swiss Cheese Sandwich

swiss cheese sandwich

A Swiss local in Lausanne was the first to tell me about Café Romand, “It’s one of those places where – and how do you say it? – those men who are very pretty, that sometimes dress as women, go. You would like it!”

I’m still trying to figure out what that means because no one’s every called me “pretty”, and my only experience wearing women’s clothing was trying on my mother’s Emilio Pucci pumps (how could I not?) when I was around eight years old.

Plus the various times I’ve been to Café Romand, it was filled with families and locals, gathered around the wooden room, dipping bread into fondue pots or pondering a newspaper while having an afternoon coffee. The only pumps I saw were on the espresso machines.

cafe romand perch

To finish up our time in Switzerland with my tour group, we had lunch at the café, tucking in our last taste of Switzerland. I chose the perch with potatoes and salad, a specialty of the Lake Geneva (Léman) region, while one of my guests (who was eating a three-star dinner that night) opted for a simple cheese sandwich.

wine list

Perhaps she was right in expecting some bread with a few slices of cheese stuck in between, which is pretty much what I think of as constituting a cheese sandwich. But what came out was a grand platter, a molten flood of Swiss cheese with a barely distinguishable square shape underneath, which we deduced was likely the sandwich.

swiss cheese sandwich

Although she and I had powered through a cheese fondue a few night before, bravely trying to reach the bottom of the simmering cheese pot when all the others gave up and declared a truce, we continued dipping and swirling our breads as the fondue reduced to a creamy, molten mass of gurgling Gruyère.

ham & cheese sandwich

But she’d met her match with this sandwich and as valiantly as she tried, and tried and tried and tried, she finally gave up about halfway through. Honestly, I don’t know how those pretty men – or anyone else, for that matter – can make it through one of these. I guess walking on heels requires more fortification than I imagined.

meringue dessert

Just before, we’d all dug (and dug and dug and dug) into a pot of Mövenpick Gruyère Double Cream Ice Cream with Meringue bits and a touch of caramel in it. It was surprisingly good; you could taste the sweet, rich cream in every bite, and the little crunchy nubbins of meringue provided a little bit of variety in the

But the dessert another guest ordered became the star – and the most photographed – dish of the trip. (Even more so than me. Hrrmph!)

swiss meringue

Out came a towering mound constructed precariously of meringues and whipped cream. Getting it from the kitchen to the table was quite a remarkable feat, and polishing it off would be another. But I trained my guests all week, and since this was the final meal, as they passed it around the table this dessert that took over a dozen people to tackle, I kept my faith in them. Well, until the waitress came breathlessly running over with a dish of ice cream that was meant to be plopped in the center.

“Il faut!” she exclaimed. (“You must!”) And since we didn’t want to be rude, she added the ice cream, then dove in to finish it off…with a little help.

Café Romand
Place Saint-François, 2
Lausanne, Switzerland

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  • Georgia
    May 10, 2011 8:34am

    David, Cafe Romand is also known as the place to go to be “abused” by the waitresses who work there. Some of those venerable ladies have been then for 40 years or more… they love to yell at each other and also the clientel! My son and his college buddies go more for the entertainment than the food. A Lausanne tradition to be sure!

  • May 10, 2011 8:43am

    I went to cafe Romand for a colleague’s birthday and had the killer combination: fondue + Meringue with gruyère double cream and an additional ice cream. It was a killer meal but really delicious! It was january anyway, so all the fat came well to help us against the cold :)

  • May 10, 2011 9:04am

    Thats an artery clogger cheese sandwich. I am guessing its not often that someone finishes the whole serve. Doesn’t the chef and waiters get tired of seeing good cheese being wastage?

  • May 10, 2011 9:31am

    Dear G*d.

  • May 10, 2011 9:34am
    David Lebovitz

    Georgia: That kinds of reminds me of Polidor, and old Parisian restaurant/bistro that is way past it’s prime (Café Romand isn’t past it’s prime, and the food is much, much better than at Polidor) – where we were served a spinach salad that had a ratio of 1:1 of sand to spinach.

    When we pointed it out to the Polidor waitress, she just shrugged her shoulders, and said, “So?”

  • May 10, 2011 10:09am

    That is most definitely a sandwich and a half…

  • Jane in Denmark
    May 10, 2011 10:54am

    Georgia’s comment on Cafe Romand reminds me of one of my favorite restaurants in Boston, Durgin Park, with it’s famously sassy waitresses. (Waitress, can I have another coffee, please? – Get it yourself!) When I lived there, it was the place to go for Yankee food like Boston baked beans, as well as for the “rude” tables (you only got free entertainment if you asked for it) I hope the new owners haven’t changed anything!

  • May 10, 2011 12:48pm

    Simply looking at those pictures makes me feel full! I suppose it’s quite an economical way to eat–one meal with dessert could easily keep someone satisfied for 2-3 days afterwards!

  • May 10, 2011 12:56pm

    Yet again I have to supress that pang of jealousy and remind myself that my life is not bad after all, as I read your blog posts! That sandwich is the kind of monster I wouldn’t mind wrangling with!

  • May 10, 2011 1:23pm

    goodness i would have to wear elastic pants when visiting this place…sounds offbeat & hilarious & your humour whilst describing it is great! dayle

  • May 10, 2011 1:50pm

    I have to admit that, had I asked for a cheese sandwich and been served this, I should not have been pleased – what if I were vegetarian? A cheese sandwich is one thing, but that is more like a proper (back in the days before microwaved cheese sauce) croque-monsieur!

  • May 10, 2011 1:50pm

    I am at a complete loss for words. This sandwich is definitely the most impressive one I think I’ve seen yet! You had me at molten cheese…I deduce that it does not get better than that!

  • Chris
    May 10, 2011 2:03pm

    I see you have a tag for ‘heels,’ but none for ‘pretty men.’ What gives?

  • May 10, 2011 2:12pm

    i think my cholesterol just went up by 10. i’ll leave the fromage to the french husband, while i play with the little plate of lindt napolitains, i think i noticed up there in the background. and ok, with the meringues too. si… il faut ! ;)

  • Stephanie
    May 10, 2011 2:27pm

    David, I have not been to Switzerland yet but due to all of your glorious posts, it is working its way to the top of my list.

    After seeing all this decadent food, I am guessing that the Swiss folks are a bit heavier than Parisians, non?

  • May 10, 2011 2:31pm

    When I die and (hopefully) ascend to heaven, I want to be greeted with this sandwich. It might take me all of eternity to eat it, but it will be worth it!! So jealous!! Maybe I shall try to recreate it at home??

  • May 10, 2011 2:31pm

    I agree with Stephanie, that Switzerland is moving quickly to the top of my “I am going there as soon as I get my Sons out of law school!” list.
    And I’m sure that it is no surprise that I will be attempting to prepare that amazing sandwich for our dinner tonight!

  • Jen C
    May 10, 2011 2:39pm

    David – You certainly trained us well. I hope we made you proud.

    …and for the record, I agree with the Swiss local – You ARE pretty and even more striking than the mound of meringue delight:-)

  • May 10, 2011 2:41pm

    Is there even bread under that mound of cheese?

  • Oh gosh, that cheese sandwich looks like something Heidi’s grandfather would have made (if you’ve read the book). I can practically taste it. You’ll have to recreate it some day with a recipe for those of us who weren’t there to finish off the second half. I’ll have dreams about this sandwich. The dessert looks cool, but my heart lies with the cheese.

  • aga
    May 10, 2011 3:42pm

    hey, not to be a grammar nazi, but when you wrote “although her and I had powered through” surely you meant “she and i” right?

    also, i want some cheese now. thanks a lot!

  • Ned Visser
    May 10, 2011 3:56pm

    I love the wine list! … Wine by the deciliter and no break on quantity … just a straight table of costs. So Swiss!

    The sandwich is my idea of ideal food! Why can’t we get this in New York?

  • May 10, 2011 4:04pm

    There are moments every now and then when reading food blogs when one goes, “Oh my…. look at that!”

    I just had one, when I laid eyes on the pic of that cheese sandwich.

    If it’s at all possible to lust after a food, I am lusting right now………

    A cheeselovers dream.

    Thank you.

  • May 10, 2011 4:04pm
    David Lebovitz

    Ned: I didn’t realize that was uniquely Swiss, but yes, it took me a while to get used to the fact that you don’t get a break if you buy wine by the carafe.

    And it’s amusing that when you order just a glass of wine, they bring you a tiny carafe with the right amount clearly marked on the side. And there is never any more, or less, than that amount in the carafe.

    Jen C: Aww..but you are prettier, I think. Thanks for coming along and helping to eat everything! : )

  • May 10, 2011 4:12pm

    Holy Frick On A Stick I’m moving to Switzerland!

  • May 10, 2011 4:13pm

    That’s amazing. It reminds me of a restaurant that was featured on “Man vs. Food” called “Melt”. Draping a sandwich in cheese looks like something to try with a Monte Cristo.

  • May 10, 2011 4:37pm

    I feel compelled to melt a mound of cheese and add a little bread on the side. I think I just figured out dinner.

  • callie
    May 10, 2011 4:39pm

    That cheese sandwich looks a lot like the “cheeseburgers” that I’d get when I used to live and work in Mexico! I thought it was just a fluke at one restaurant, but I soon learned that it was a trend. I’m gonna bet that the swiss cheese you were served was a lot better, though…

  • Norine
    May 10, 2011 5:03pm

    David, don’t you remember that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards, and in high heels. Here’s to more high heels, the natural treatment for obesity! There’s no edible cheese anywhere near Modesto – well maybe an okay local baby Gouda. Thanks, again for a terrific (enviable) post.

  • Douglas
    May 10, 2011 5:09pm

    This is why the Swiss have a very low incidents of heart disease.

    It’s not the fat that’s killing you, it’s the carbs and sugar.

  • May 10, 2011 5:15pm

    OMG!!!!!!! The photos alone were to drool for. The beautiful writing was the whipped cream on top! I am soooooooo going to Switzerland!!!!!!

  • May 10, 2011 5:17pm

    I think they are just trying to promote what they are good at — delicious cheese : ) Whoever ate that probably needed a bit of a nap afterward I imagine.

  • May 10, 2011 5:18pm

    This sandwich is not called sandwich in French (in Switzerland at least), but “croûte” (not a very seductive name…) and the first time I ordered it was because of the intriguing name. I have seen it in other Swiss restaurants, but it is the best in the Café Romand. The cheese they use is of very good quality.
    I don’t live in Lausanne, but went to this place several times, every time on cold days. It is a perfect dish for a Winter cold day. It looks scary, but there’s less cheese inside than in a cheese fondue (plus ham and egg, my favourite version of “croûte”) or than in a Pizza hut pizza ;-) (and what’s more this is real cheese here…). Of course at least a glass of wine is obligatory to help digestion.
    The waitresses are sometimes noisy, but they were always polite to me and made funny jokes.
    Oh, and looking at your photos, I thought must add this is one of the rare non-expensive restaurants with real napkins and real table clothes.

  • May 10, 2011 5:23pm

    David, thanks for your always wonderful articles. That is the greatest cheese sandwich I have ever seen.

  • Selma Palad
    May 10, 2011 5:34pm

    OMG !!! I would kill right now for all that cheese and that meringue :) and I agree with you how could you not try Emilio Pucci ?!! Now that is a restaurant that is definitely getting into my list to try one day.

  • Vivian
    May 10, 2011 5:36pm


  • May 10, 2011 5:58pm

    I don’t know what else to say about the meringue dessert but… WOW!!! That really is something. Did everyone feel like they had enough dessert and sweetness that would last for the whole after the feat? But oh well, one can never have enough of dessert!

  • May 10, 2011 6:11pm

    My husband wants to go to Switzerland so badly. After I show him this, I’ll never here the end of it. Mind you that cheese fondue is right up my alley, so that might not be a bad thing.

  • May 10, 2011 6:23pm

    oh, dear! this sandwich looks amazing! I would eat it and my ears would shake with joy ;)
    I would eat the dessert also, but not the same day!

  • May 10, 2011 6:23pm

    Yum. That cheese sandwich is insane. I may need to recreate that in my kitchen. Stat. And the ice cream…I love the sound of such a savory ingredient providing the base for a decadent ice cream.

  • May 10, 2011 6:28pm

    My goodness this looks like a cheese heaven for me. However, I will have to take your word on the meringues and whipped cream, too sweet for me.
    The sandwich, on the other hand, seems like something I could brave with a fellow cheese enthusiast! Yumm and oh I can feel the tummy ache from trying to finish it… and the chicken doesn’t look bad either.
    Delicious post!
    The Wanderfull Traveler

  • May 10, 2011 6:30pm

    I’ve enjoyed this sandwich immensely (if only vicariously).
    The photos speak volumes, but, its “creamy, molten mass of gurgling Gruyère” description, required a bib.

  • May 10, 2011 6:54pm

    Oh my…that looks so decadent but so delicious. And not too difficult to replicate at home, although of course the cheese wouldn’t be as tasty. Thanks for sharing!

  • May 10, 2011 7:04pm

    It’s Place Saint François, not Françoise :) I LOVE that place!!!

  • May 10, 2011 7:12pm

    That food is like nothing that I’ve ever seen wow,I wanna travel with you.

  • May 10, 2011 9:17pm

    That dessert is total and utter absurdity!! Nothing that fantastically, deliciously ridiculous should EVER be allowed to be served, EVER!

    But, oh my God, if you go there again, can I come?

  • ellen
    May 10, 2011 9:37pm

    Hi David,
    I tried the crepe recipe but felt it was to “greasy” and as well a bit tricky with the butter in the recipe. Although after a few fell apart they did get better. Wondering if the butter is too much but I am triying to watch butter and white flour in my diet, exactly what Parisiens may not want to cut out of their wonderous food! Despite I enjoyed trying something new! Thank you!

    Ellen from Stuttgart Germany

  • Susan
    May 10, 2011 10:04pm

    Okay…I’m now so over Velveta grilled cheese. How could I ever go back?

  • May 11, 2011 12:37am

    No danger of any vegans pinching any of your lunch in that cafe, then! ;-)

  • May 11, 2011 12:46am

    I never saw another cheese sandwich that looked even half that good–plus I love Gruyere. And my stomach is empty, so I am really wishing I had such a dish sitting in front of me. I never met a meringue or meringue frosting I didn’t like, so that is making my stomach growl, also.

    The best we could come up with here for Mother’s Day was s’mores–in case you’re homesick for them (or for gathering ’round the good old American campfire), take a look! Actually, my grandkids loved ’em!

  • Annika
    May 11, 2011 1:42am

    Wow, it looks just fantastic! I love cheese, and especially when it is melted…

  • Corie
    May 11, 2011 2:58am

    Wow! Enough said…

  • May 11, 2011 3:27am

    Ok, there is something very strange about reading a Paris blog to find out cool places in the country I’m currently living in. That place looks to die for. Maybe I’ll get lucky and hit it on “ladies in heels only” evening or something! i’ll probably just order that dessert though…

  • Christine
    May 11, 2011 4:35am


    I did still go to Le Cinq for dinner that night and had the tasting menu which ended up being about 10 courses. And I did pretty well, I even was able to nibble some of the mignardises! I must say I impressed myself even.

    But that sandwich was ridiculous.

  • Juliet
    May 11, 2011 4:36am

    This cheese hound can only say “Me want!” That looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing – love your blog!

  • May 11, 2011 8:27am
    David Lebovitz

    Christine: So glad you were able to make it through dinner at Le Cinq. But then again, you proved a worthwhile companion in our cheese (and chocolate) – eating marathon(s), so you have my admiration…toujours!
    : )

    Vivian: Good one!

  • Celine
    May 11, 2011 2:21pm

    Oh noooooooooo…. this is a little disturbing. Too much cheese for me! I would strongly encourage you to go to Cocinelle in Lausanne for a good lunch experience. Oh and have you tried the Cafe de Grancy, that’s a must. I hope you’re having fun in Lausanne! Really enjoy your blog. Celine (french and american, lives in Lausanne)

  • Celine
    May 11, 2011 2:27pm

    In regards to good cheese. Do you realize that you are only 45 minutes away from the most wonderful french “cooperatives fruitieres” where you can get COMTE, which in my opinion is much tastier than guyere. The “french” jura is right next door to Lausanne or Geneva. Check out also le Fort des Rousses. They have guided tours. If you love cheese, you’ll have a really good time. If you need any more good “eating” plans for Le Jura or Doubs, let me know!!

  • May 11, 2011 2:36pm
    David Lebovitz

    Hi Celine: I’ve been to the Jura and wrote extensively about Comté and how it’s made:

    Comté Cheese Making


    Comté Cheese Ripening and Tasting

    Comté and Gruyère do share many similar qualities although I find it’s hard to compare the two as they are somewhat different. But you’re right; it’s well-worth visiting the caves and getting a tour of any cheese making place!

  • Bernadette
    May 11, 2011 3:35pm

    *How* is it that you manage to stay thin? You are surrounded by the best foods and still skinny. . . skip the next dessert book (kidding) and perhaps write a diet book?

    Plus you keep ice cream in your freezer. . . .

  • sillygirl
    May 11, 2011 4:01pm

    Wow! If I want to put on a few pounds all I have to do is look at the picture of the dessert – or maybe salivating over it will burn calories?

  • May 11, 2011 4:08pm
    David Lebovitz

    Bernadette: It wasn’t me who ate the sandwich – I had fish! : )

    But doesn’t everyone keep their ice cream in the freezer?

  • May 11, 2011 6:21pm

    Omigod! I thought that sandwich was out of control until the Gruyère Double Cream Ice Cream showed its face. Holy cow…

  • May 11, 2011 7:10pm

    I had a similar moment in Angers when I ordered a salad. I knew there would be some ham on it, but when it arrived I could just barely see a couple of weak salad leaves poking through the mound of ham. It was a moment of awakening for me.

  • May 11, 2011 11:55pm

    Heart attack express……but sooo good!

  • May 12, 2011 12:45am

    I want that sandwich. I’m sure I’d only get through a few bites of it, but love that it’s swimming in cheese :) Hopefully people share this sort of thing!

  • jobeth_b
    May 12, 2011 5:18am

    Queasy, palpitations, must go for long bike ride just to rid my eyes of the cheese and cream mountains. First time I’ve ever been horrified by one of your posts…amused but woah!

  • Neil Butterfield
    May 12, 2011 6:26am

    This restaurant should give you commission for promoting them like this. This has to be the mother of all cheese sandwiches ! I love cheese, especially grilled cheese on bread.

  • May 12, 2011 5:54pm

    It all looks so tasty and decadent, I just want to stick my fingers into every single picture of this post. (And I bet I could eat the whole sandwich!)

  • May 12, 2011 6:00pm

    David – Cafe Romand was one of my favorite neighborhood haunts when I lived in Lausanne. The first time my brother came for a visit, I took him to CR for lunch. I had a salad and tricked him into having the croûte au fromage. After lunch, I went back to work and he went back to my studio to sleep it off. When it’s cold and snowy, I make my own mini version – still yummy and very filling. Take care, Susan

  • May 12, 2011 10:43pm

    I agree with homegrown countrygirl, above, except that I want to beat her to it and get my fingers into that swiss cheese sandwich before she does! I have the feeling she wouldn’t leave me even a crumb. I don’t blame her. That photo has my mouth seriously watering. David, when you said “creamy, molten mass of gurgling Gruyère”, that’s when I just lost it. Your words are as delicious as your pictures!

  • willowbarcelona
    May 12, 2011 11:48pm

    i spent a couple of my childhood years in Lausanne, well Port de Pully next door, so your cheese sandwich brings back childhood memories of a day camp I went to by the shores of lac leman, and we were served much smaller versions of this cheese sandwich at lunch, so that the children would have had a good “hot lunch.” Homemade yogurt too and peach nectar to drink. A wonderful day camp that kept me out of my parents’ hair during summer months!

    thanks for the memory. Will vote for your blog in the Saveur contest!

  • Lisa
    May 13, 2011 3:21am

    Sweet cheese, how I love you! I cannot stop coming to this site to stare lovingly at the cheese sandwich. The cute little onions just put it over the top for me. Ahhhh… I am dreaming of cheese tonight for sure.

  • May 13, 2011 12:51pm

    I’ll make sure I order a cheese sandwich next time I go to Switzerland. I could not make this at home, I would just not have the guts.

  • May 13, 2011 4:57pm

    That is so genius! All that melted cheese. Delicious I’m sure. And don’t get me started on that dessert. The meringue and the creaminess must have been so good together.

  • joymama
    May 15, 2011 6:09pm

    Oh, that sandwich is lovely looking. I’d like one with asparagus in the middle since I’m a lacto-ovo veg.

  • May 16, 2011 8:40pm

    I could never have imagined it. This is so going to be the next thing I serve for brunch guests. Salivating and freaking out.

  • May 17, 2011 12:23pm

    Actually this is what is called a croute au fromage lit. translated : cheese crust. Calling it a sandwich is misleading as it is a real meal.
    You soak the country bred in local (canton Vaud) white wine i.e. “un chasselas vaudois” and you put Gruyères over it and bake it in the oven. Normally they bring it direct in the cast iron “Le Creuset” pan (the one used is obvisouly round and smaller…). Some people add country ham and even a fried egg on top. It’s delicious. The best way to eat such dishes is on a terrasse in the mountains on a sunny but cold day.
    I live in Geneva, a few kilometers away from Lausanne and the canton de Vaud ad eat this every once in a while :)

  • May 17, 2011 12:27pm

    I forgot the pickled oignons and cornichons (gherkins) which are a must!

  • May 17, 2011 2:47pm

    my god that sandwich looks divine! like a much more sinister version of a croque monsieur, which is just about my most favorite thing to eat in the world. the ice cream meringue treat looks interesting, but its definitely this sandwich that has me literally drooling into my coffee on the trading desk at 8:45am. YUM! thanks for sharing!

  • Charlie
    May 19, 2011 4:26pm

    It all looks great!

    Are you going to give us your versions of these dishes??

  • May 23, 2011 8:57pm

    We take everyone who comes to visit us to Café Romand as being abused by the waitstaff is an essential ingredient to any Swiss holiday.

    The food is awesome and artery clogging (I have yet to work out how the Swiss are so slim, it must be all that bounding up and down mountains that they do for ‘fun’) and hilarity always ensues at some point in the evening, either with ‘mort par le fromage’ or abuse by the aforementioned waitress.

    Last time the waitresses were all exceptionally polite and friendly. We were quite disappointed!

    Are residents of Lausanne allowed to come on your tours?

  • May 23, 2011 9:04pm
    David Lebovitz

    Nicola: Anyone is allowed to come, but most people don’t want to stay in a hotel in their own city. (Although the hotels there are so nice…why not??)

  • May 23, 2011 9:13pm

    I shall commence covert coercion of husband tout de suite in preparation for your next trip!

  • Lisa
    June 6, 2011 4:45am

    This is still my favorite post of all food blogs. I must recreate that sandwich.