Cafe Bijou is a small cafe turned restaurant near the Milchbuck. The interior hasn’t changed in the last 20 years and neither have the patrons. I slide into a booth and people seem curious that an outsider strays into their little cozy place. The food is definitely spanish and I select a dish of chorizo which was cooked with cider. A nice starter, especially since the sweet and spicy combination works well. My main dish was a nice bacalao gratin, nicely finished with some cheese and olives. Overall a small, quaint place, serving decent spanish food, the interior needs a makeover though.
The Alpenblick in Toggwil (a small part of the town of Meilen located up the hill) is a restaurant which has been known for rustic food and is a favourite with the locals for dining al fresco. Starter was a run of the mill small mixed salad, just to get something into the stomach, before the piece de resistance arrived. Family style Zürcher Geschnetzeltes with Röschti really is the staple dish here. Clogged arteries ? High blood pressure ? Fat belly ? Skyrocketing cholesterol ? Forget about it and just enjoy. Röschti is a difficult dish to make, like your average female longterm companion it tends to be fickle and has a strong will of its own. The chef at the Alpenblick has it down and knows how to caress the potatoes so that they end up crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with the right balance of salt and butter. The best part is however, the Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (minced veal with cream and mushrooms) which is served in a big bowl so everyone at the table can help himself (note the the grandmotherly design of the dish). It hits the right notes of creaminess and saltiness, the mushrooms and the veal are delicate and make this a great meal to share with family and friends. You might not get Michelin stars at this place, but like many good restaurants, it does something perfectly. If you don’t mind the guy playing Jass at the table next to you and making raunchy jokes in swiss german, then this is the place for you. Especially if you get a nice table for lunch outdoors during summer.
Being near Basel for the late afternoon, a suitable place for dinner was needed. A couple of places looked interesting but the Muehle Allschwil came out on top. Now if think getting of the bus at Gartenstrasse and quickly walking over to the restaurant, that assumption can be misleading and after wandering 15 minutes around a suburban neighbourhood can cause mild irritation with yourself. The Muehle Allschwil is a nice old mill house, with different rustic but nice rooms. The local rotary club has its convention here and I’m pretty sure that going here for a dinner is normally a celebrative event. First dish was a lovely Quiche made with Munster cheese served on a salad. Interesting was the second course a spelt cream soup with some nice morels added to it. Creative, homemade, not something you get everyday and served in a bowl so you could help yourself to seconds. The main course was something called Kluser Prägel, which essentially is a Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (minced veal with a cream sauce) but with larger pieces of veal and no mushrooms. The butter noodles (homemade, served in a small copper pan to) and vegetables were exactly how you would expect it in such a place, solid, decent taste without any chichi. However the Kluser Prägel wasn’t cooked perfectly, part of the larger veal cubes weren’t cooked enough, which took away from the experience. Filling a bit full, but aiming for a dessert a nice Leckerlimousse came my way. The presentation could have been a bit better (powdered sugar it’s so 1950ties), but otherwise it was great. The combination of a local speciality (Basler Leckerli) and creative cooking technique (turning a rock solid cookie into a mousse) executed flawlessly shows what I like about restaurants who cook with their hearts and mind. Also the outstanding service needs to be mentioned not just friendly, but really knowledgable about all the items and not shy to correct their own mistake (the apprentice gave a wrong explanation for what a Kluser Prägel is). This is the way a Landgasthof should work and what makes it worth to travel the extra distance. Obviously, quality comes at a price:
By the way – instead of taking the tram back to Basel SBB, take a walk and enjoy one of these:
What a coincidence – your favourite gluttony sinner was on a trip to Belgium to visit an old friend currently living there. A couple of newspapers were in the accompanying luggage to bring something from home to Belgium. Dinner reservations were already made and about 30 minutes before leaving the friend starts to smile, turns over the NZZ and says this is where we’re going. So a day after the NZZ mentioned the Belga Queen your truly was already there for dinner. Staying ahead of the Tagesanzeiger is child’s play, staying in tune with the NZZ, well….. So Belga Queen is in a former bank building in the downtown Brussel. The crowd dresses to impress (clearly this seems the place to be) and the hall is amazing. Wandering downstairs there’s an old vault which has been turned into a cigar lounge and bar, so this really is my type of place. Sitting down yours truly got a bit cocky. Skimming the menu a seafood platter with all kind of mussels, oysters and shrimp sounded enticing. The lack of experience quickly showed, except for the shrimp, everything was raw on the platter. My limited grasp of the english language made me carelessly overread the Common Periwinkle on the menu. And rest assured the Common Periwinkle is a fickle beast, you have to pry it out of it’s shell. A nice change was the next dish, a salmon which was treated with Rodenbach beer and herbs. Slightly sweet, a nice distinctive beer taste and a good mustard sauce to go with it, this was my favourite dish of the night. Mains were meatballs cooked in special sauce of stock and pear/apple syrup. Flavour wise it was interesting and made a good combination, but the execution was very sloppy. A couple of small bits of inedible offal meat in the meatball as well as the sides were a turnoff. The salad was a sloppy quarter of a lettuce head and the french fries were lukewarm at best. Another bit of advice be wary of the belgian wine, the white is okay, but the red is like a Schaffhauser Nordhang Cuvee. Overall the place is sleek, trendy and posh, but not really great in terms of food. Like a complicated, but beautiful woman, great for a night, but lacking substance. Price for four:
Sunny saturday, no plans, what could be better than taking a train to the beautiful village of Gruyere and going for a nice lunch. The La Fleur de Lys was the goal of our outing. We reserved a nice table on the sunny deck out back with a view of the chateau. To match the white wine a small plate of meat and gruyere cheese was ordered. Rustic and typical gruyere, nothing to shatter or undermine any normal expectation. Staying with the cheesy theme, a nice gruyere tarte was presented which had a nice tangy taste. The main course was a tricky beast. Charbonnade with different sauces was served with the obvious hot coal fuelled stove to cook your meat on. Now this is great indoors, but unfortunately has a drawback outside. If it’s windy, you’ll be covered in ashes. The Fleur de Lys is a nice place for a lunch if it’s sunny on the outdoor deck, just stay away from Charbonnade during gales. The only downside is the sloppy service, yes they’re all french swiss here (aka russians in the swiss army) but some responsiveness higher than a sleepy snail wouldn’t hurt.
Do you know who Erich Hänzi is ? Would you be able to point out Martin Trümpler in a lineup ? Would you concur that Eric Winalda is the only other incarnation of Georges Bregy ? Do you think Young Boys sounds like a special interest group of an Irish All Boys School in the 1950ties ? Your answer shows your intimate knowledge of the Swiss Football League. BSC Young Boys was playing against Bilbao and your favourite lifestyle and culinary expert was invited to the VIP lounge which includes a dinner buffet. The issues with this buffet is the same as in most external catering situations, someone is optimising in the background… Most of the components from the corn salad to the Schupfnudeln were okay. But the underlying premise is the same as the army. A team of cooks assemble dishes aimed at feeding the troops not at pleasing the gourmets. It really wasn’t much different than what you would get at a Migros Restaurant place. Overall if you get sponsored tickets, take them – otherwise buy a decent seat, eat at a fancy restaurant and you get the better overall experience.
Tschooga-tschoooogahhh is the sound my friend makes, because he likes to boast with his great muscial knowledge. We went for dinner in Dieter Meier’s Weinkontor near the Rennweg. The place is half restaurant half shop but primarily it’s rather tiny. There isn’t even a real kitchen, just some sort of corner which keeps the beef warm. So tiny kitchen, small restaurant, leads to a small and limited menu, leaving you with essentially three choices of meat. Great place, since all the fussy people have to stay outside. The antipasti were vibrant and tasty, nothing to complain. The entrecote double was juicy, obviously sous vide cooked and it tasted like high class meat. The side order was a some salad, so I believe this makes this restaurant a great Atkins Diet place or depending on your point of view an environment encouraging carbohydrate discrimination. To counterbalance, the chocolate cake helps. The place is nice, cramped but cozy, defintely something if you like meat:
Driving past the Restaurant Waid, there’s a restaurant right in the woods, called Tessin Grotto. Obviously this was a run of the mill beiz which is under a new management. The place has a nice vibe and focuses on food from the Ticino. To assist in the food selection process, we tried out the antipasti. A very nice plate, vibrant colors, good mix of ingredients and tasty. The appetizer was average, albeit good in execution, the flavor wasn’t too exciting. It was a calf’s head terrine served with some grissini and tomatoes. Agreeably calf’s head is not something you should order on a first date, unless you need to drive her away. Main course was back on track, a beautiful brasato with a strong sauce and a nice polenta. This really reminds yourself of home cooking and was spot on. True to the story, but maybe detrimental to certain people is the fact that they only sell Merlot red wine from the Ticino. Prices are pleasantly consumer friendly: