Waldheim caught my eye a long time ago and finally the chance arose to grab lunch here. The place was a quarter full and seats in the garden were freely available. The location is in the middle of nowhere, which is helping the availability of seats. Waldheim sports a business lunch at a hefty price. In the pursuit of fine dining and ensuring that our readers are well informed, we went for it. First up was a sandwich of buffalo mozzerella and tomatoes. Classic ingredients and a very tasty mozzerella were noted on the plus side. However the whole sandwich approach fell apart. It was a bit difficult to eat and it wasn’t a good idea. The accompaning pepper sauce gave it a nice little twang. Main course was beef with chanterelles served with a risotto. The main didn’t come together in terms of flavor. The sauce was simply to overpowering and the dish wasn’t balanced well. The risotto was okay, the dried tomatoes enhancing the flavor profile. Even the nice garden can’t save the day, the place is simply too expensive for what they offer. CHF 41 for this type of lunch in an obscure side road in Bern is too expensive. Compare it to the “Weisses Rössli” in Zurich which has 13 Gault Millau points serves a business lunch of the same level for CHF 29. It must be the high level of government workers which are invited for lunch by lobbyist why a place like this can get away with these prices. Just to prove my point, a former high ranking member of the consumer advocates group is dining next to us, why she wasn’t protesting the prices couldn’t be determined.
Luckily we had a reservation when walking into Fugu on a lovely late summer night. Fugu depcits itself as a Japanese-Thai crossover, but the menu (asides from the sake) makes only a minimal japanese impression. The appetizer, a homemade springroll with crispy duck meat and glass noodles was offending. No taste of duck, the noodles mushy and lacking any sensation – why wasn’t something fresh and vibrant added to the spring roll? The main course didn’t really give me a good vibe either. While the Yellowfish tuna was good, putting radishes on top is dumb. The crunchy and spicy radish completely overpowers the delicate tuna and the level of oil used in the Spinach Garlic Dip was way too much. Strange was the side order of tomatoes with honey and ginger. The sweetness of the ginger which was caramalized with honey overamplified with the slight sweetness of the tomatoes. The ginger would have been interesting on a dessert but not on tomatoes. Looking around the restaurant it seems to be clearly very popular with groups of women. This is always a bad sign when it comes to dining, since women rate calories higher than the quality of the food. Summarising it’s a run of the mill “pan asian” eatery, ideal if you need to invite your secretary for lunch, otherwise stay away. Prices were steep for Bern with 14 CHF for the spring rolls and 39 CHF for the tuna.
Sometimes you need to get lucky and just hope that you find a decent restaurant sitting on the road. Stumbling across the Auberge du Chene in Charmey. The thermometer was hitting 35° C and the sun shades were well appreciated. The waitress recommended an Entrecote de boeuf Poya which we went for. Starting of a small salad is sent out some nice ideas by adding salsifies (Schwarzwurzeln) and melons, but unfortunately the salsifies are from a can and the melons have salad sauce one them. After the salad it got interesting. A big rechaud was lit and a pan filled with sauce bernaise was put on top of it. For every person a bleu entrecote, cut into little strips was swimming in the bernaise. The concept dictates that you finish cooking your pieces of entrecote in the middle of the pan. As a side pommes allumettes go with it. Now the pommes allumettes where nice and crispy, together with the bernaise you just can’t stop eating them. The entrecote was okay, it’s the idea of poaching it in bernaise which doesn’t add that much to the flavor. Especially towards the end of the meal, the bernaise separates and the butter rises to the top. If you’re in danger of clogging your arteries, you would want to stay away from this. Prices were a bit high for the middle of nowhere by charging 38 CHF per head.
An optimisation in the personal schedule of the Real Picky Gourmet led to the Chateaux Schadau for lunch. Sitting on the shores of the lake of Thun under a nice porch with the Moench, Eiger and Jungfrau mountains in the back, this seemed like the proper way to kick off an army repetition course. The good looking, bikini clad female sun bather on the lawn added to the cheerful mood. The first dish was a tatare made from Piemontese beef topped with an espuma hollandaise. Asides from the salad, the taste was there and the slightly moussier hollandaise gave it a more interesting texture. Main course was a char (Saibling) from the lake of thun. No complaints, really lovely where the noisette potatoes, which had an almost Gnocchi like texture. Together with the confit tomatoes this was a well executed dish. A bit quirky was the chefs inclination to put chervil (Kerbel) on to every plate including the amouse bouche. Musing over the next couple of weeks ahead of me, looking out the beautiful lake of Thun, I’ve really come to agree with the Secretary of Defense Ueli Maurer – the Swiss Army really is the best army in the world. If you ever wonder what you have to do to start your army service off like this, volunteer for guarding everyone’s personel belonging, while they run over to the armory and leverage the Gepäckaufbewahrung from the local train station.
The Restaurant Seidenhof is located in the Laenggass area in Bern. Looking for a bite to eat, it has a lovely garden located under some big chestnut trees giving it plenty of shade. For lunch the place offers six menus all accompanied with your choice of one from four different salads. The waitress seemed a bit overwhelmed by waiting on four good looking men. That’s the only explanation as to why it took thirty minutes to deliver a cucumber salad with yoghurt sauce. It wasn’t worth the wait simply because someone forgot to add salt and pepper to the salad. After asking the waitress to check up on our food since now we were sitting down for 45 minutes finally our main courses arrived. The pork filet was dead on arrival, cooked to an arid texture. Again the vegetables were lacking salt and pepper. The place is probably good to drink beer in the shade but waiting 45 minutes for your main course when ordering from the lunch menu is a joke, especially if the quality of the food is abysmal. The dry pork filet cost a whopping 34 CHF.
Casa Novo is located on the banks of the Aare, the river snaking through Bern. If you reserve here on a sunny day, make sure that you get a table on the lower terasse right next to the Aare. The Fräulein Wunder you’re trying to seduce or the mother-in-law you’re trying to impress will all think that you’re a smooth player with excellent taste. The beef tatare was slightly disappointing, since the medium spicyness did not generate any hint of heat. The service for refilling our toast was impeccable and as soon as the basket was empty a new one appeared. Mains were very tasty veal liver cubes with a port wine sauce and vegetables. Nothing to complain, well executed food, however the side dish of Olive linguine was lacking a bit of aroma. The prices reflect the location, but when you look at the people jumping the bridge into the river and you enjoy the majestic flow of the Aare, you’ll be able to cope with the impact of the bill. The CEO of a major swiss telco company sitting behind us clearly indicates that Casa Novo is best visited on a company lunch expense account:
Meeting up with a real celebrity, we headed to the Toscano at Puls 5 for dinner. Not everyone might be familiar with Heinz, but if you ever need expertise in Java, your favourite diner can vouch for the quality of his training and depth of his experience. Now from the outside Puls 5 looks a bit to modern for good food. Opening a restaurant in the now out of business Zuppamundial (opened by Kurt Aeschbacher) seems like a challenge as well. But you can always be pleasantly surprised, as happened here after opening the menu. Appetizer were some grilled artichokes and asparagus on spinach. A nice late spring dish, slightly bitter yet fresh and vibrant in a surprising combination. Sea bass (Wolfsbarsch) braised with artichoke liquid and risotto was next. Nothing to complain, a better sea bass than at the Da Angela, simply a nice dish. Dessert was something called a Sgroppino. Essentially a mix of lemon sorbet, wodka and prosecco, the whole concotion is a tad more fluid than a sorbet colonel. Toscano offers decent italian cuisine, with some of the dishes being a good bit more surprising. If you ever need to take a South African out for beer, head to the Helsinki Bar, it’s a good choice for live music and beer.