Sunday dinner I headed for the Liguria in the Niederdorf. It seems that I was the almost only local among a couple of businessmen and some tourists. Except – lucky me – the aging gay man and his thai boy toy sitting next to me with their, ugly, small and obnoxious dog. After sitting down the stupid mutt jumped on the bench and wanted to come over. Luckily they tugged on the leash and got him down. A heated dispute with the past-his-prime swiss gentlemen over his lack of a decent upbringing and failing to keep his dog away from dining establishments ensued. They moved the dog to the other side, I drank a gulp of white wine to avoid punching anyone and we didn’t exchange any further looks. So I wasn’t in the best mood to start with, probably the only right reaction would have been to get up and leave. Appetizer was seafood salad, decent, only the oranges were slightly offputting. I liked the pasta with saffron and pernod sauce, however the slipper lobster was small and not exciting. The biggest disappointment was my main course, wild tuna, scampi and scallops with spinach. The spinach was really nice, but none of the seafood ingredients managed to convince myself. Tuna was very dry, the scampi overcooked and the scallops very bitter. I’ve never had scallops tasting this weird…. The profiterol were a bit of a scam, the plate was redhot and I’m convinced they threw some frozen stuff into the microwave, added a scoup of vanilla ice cream and drizzled everything wiht some hot chocolate. Overall I’m pretty sure If you eat here on a day where the seafood is absolutely fresh – you’ll do okay. But Sunday evening (I should know, shouldn’t I?) isn’t the time. Anyway – why I can’t smoke yet someone can bring their dog to a restaurant is something which I’ll never get. Prices:
Quintessential swiss lunch. This is what you get at the Kafi Klus near the Klusplatz. The menu started with a zuchini soup, not much taste and surely some glutamate (Aromat?) added to it. The daily menu was a burger and it was served with a salad. I got to choose between french, italian and the house dressing and opted for the latter. Interestingly enough what arrived was a mix of two different sauces, not quite my taste. But I’m sure it was healthy, since some power sprouts were sprinkled on top of the salad. The burger in-itself was so typically swiss housewive style, it was not a 100% beef but surely sprinkled with bread and maybe even some Brät (sausage meat). This really gives the patty a slight fur like mouth feeling when eating. While this is very typical it’s not what I like. The sauce was some kind of homemade spicy cocktail sauce. In my opinion if you serve a hamburger it should be 100% beef unless you declare it otherwise. Prices were cheap including drinks and coffee it was 27 CHF.
An old school dining establishment doesn’t need a website, so the Ciro on Militärstrasse doesn’t have one. From the outside it looks like a crummy restaurant, but walking up the steps, the Michelin bleu sign helps in overcoming any doubts. The clientele is rather traditional and during lunch a lot of the people seem to be regulars. Looking at the menu they pride themself on pasta which is made fresh on a daily basis. Before trying the pasta I start of with some bruschette with bottarga (dried and compressed fish eggs). It was ok, the bottarga tasted the way it should, but the salad decoration was a bit too much. More interesting were the four different types of pasta. First of all I would have appreciated if I was briefly told what I was eating. The pasta was soft and delicate. Especially the linguine were commendable, the americans which are very good at naming things, would have been right to call them angel hair. I liked the salvia ravioli, but wasn’t quite sure what the green and the red filled pasta was. Especially the red one was too heavy. Looking at the sauces the pasta was literally drenched in butter, not especially kind on my cholesterol level….. The place has good homemade pasta and everything is cooked in a very traditional way. Certainly a good place to go to if you miss the old days.
Speaking of the old days – after lunch I watched Hugo Koblet pedaleur de charme. What a heartfelt, touching and moving movie! I think something got into my eye towards the end of the film…. I recommend this to anyone (basic swiss german listening a plus)
Lunch for one:
The restaurant Gandria is tucked away from the Seefeldstrasse, close to the Höschgasse. Upon entering, the restaurant makes a small, lovely impression and is obviously owner run. A nice contrast to the “concept” places appearing in Zurich all over town. I had some time on my hands and was looking forward to an excellent lunch. The place sports 14 Gault Millau points, which is okay, but not stellar. I’m shown to a nice booth where I sit down, order a glass of wine and study the menu. My first dish is some scallops on leek. The scallops were accompanied by a tomato sauce with some chili. I wasn’t too fond of the dish, I would have preferred the scallops a tad more cooked. The chili added a nice spice to the sauce, but overpowered the scallops and cut through the sweeteness of the leeks. The main course smelled nicely and I eagerly tucked into the wild-caught shrimp with spaghetti and zuchini and dressed with a lemon sauce. I’m a big fan of pasta and zuchetti strips which was a nice combination, pairing nicely with the fresh lemon taste of the sauce. My favourite protein really is shrimp, but there was something a bit off with the ones served on top of my spaghetti. They were either overcooked or already a bit old. Shrimp cooked perfectly have slight resistance to your bite, but your teeth cut cleanly through the meat, like a sharp knife through a ripe tomato. These shrimp had a slight mealy consistency and was lacking in beauty. Dessert was very good, a sourcream gelato with 40 year old Balsamic vinegar. To be fair I wouldn’t have noticed if the vinegar was only 35 years old. The sweet and creamy ice cream held up nicely with the acid of the vinegar, a simple yet creative way to finish of the meal. Prices are somewhat steep, but not off the chart for a place like this. Looking at the ambition of the place, next time I’ll go for the meat, I’m sure It’ll be a tad better than the seafood.
The (re-)opening of the Hubertus Restaurant is jinxed. Tuesday the 19th of October was the first official opening day and apparently the line cook broke his hand playing football and the kitchen help didn’t show. Well the lone chef cook in his kitchen had to pull something out of his butt. The atmosphere is still very Hubertus, airing the laid back Kreis 5 atmosphere here out in Wiedikon. There are three dishes on the menu plus your choice of salad or soup during lunch. I started with a salad, nice sauce (clearly homemade), nice bread, but the pieces of salad should have been cut up into smaller bits. I’m chalking that down to lack of manpower in the kitchen. Main course was a Cordon bleu with cucumber potato salad and a joghurt coriander sauce. The cordon bleu was not quite up to Gertrudhofs standards but decent and the joghurt coriander sauce cut rather nicely through the heavier potatoes. Critique here is that the potato pieces were too large, I would have preferred a more refined way. I payed 47.50 CHF including a mineral water and three glasses of red wine. Looking forward to coming back – one caveat – the place is a bit chilly and looking at the onlooming winter, I would not recommend sitting next to the window without a sweater.
The Moospinte used to be run by Chrueter Oski and is now under new management. Reaching it on foot is about a 15 minute march from the train station. A good friend and corporal of the swiss army joined me for lunch. Both dressed in full camouflage uniform and shiny, well polished, black combat boots, we stood out against the people coming from the golf course for lunch after an exhausting nine holes or so. Today was our official last day in the Swiss Army. Your favourite food critic was a seargent and after a tough time as a recruit, corporal in the infantry, finally made his peace with the organisation in his elder years. After a swinging “Kompanieabend” (troop party) organized by the real picky gourmet, too many drinks and one last march through the dark woods – it was one last night in a bunker. Now if you’re not accustomed to a “Zivilschutz anlage” -civil defense bunker – let me tell you something. Sleeping on a foam mattress (5 cm) on a hard wooden bed (about 75 cm wide), in a sleeping bag, which is worse than anything you buy at an outdoor store for 50 bucks, while the air filter is rattling and the air is damp & reeks of unshowered male – is not something I’ll be missing. But days like this or enduring an all night march (beating the troop led by your lieutenant), a quick rest in a cattle barn, followed by a march in NBC-gear to finish off with an orienteering exercise make a lot of good stories for sharing. But back to the food. The restaurant has a very nice garden und some old trees, really a treat to sit down with the weather permits. The lunch was splendid and of high quality, intricate little tidbits served with love. Very notable was the oxtail “chocolate”. Filled with luscious oxtail and sauce in a potatoey, crunchy outside – who needs real chocolate ? Also quite splendid was the potato based risotto. Yes it was expensive, but on a day like this – who cares ? I blew more than my army wage on a lunch for two – and then it hit me – I’m too old for Ueli Maurer’s best army in the world, and am no longer needed.
Now I don’t like to brag – but – the Social Marketing Company Xeit.ch has come up with an interesting list:
The Gertrudhof has been reopened again with new proprietors (Pre-previous and Previous). The concept is the same, with a focus on Cordon bleu. The good thing is that the menu offers a couple more variants than before. Prices are roughly the same, so no change in that area either. The mixed salad I had was a bit disappointing. The carrots were from a can or plastic bag bought at a Cash & Carry and weren’t prepared freshly. You could also clearly taste the Maggi on the sauce which gives points for swissness, but deductions for taste. The previous owner did a much better job on the salad and you could clearly taste more love. The cordon bleu was a Hot Paul variant, I didn’t get much heat but the mixture was spicy and paired nicely with the cheese. The roeschti wasn’t bad, but I would have preferred more crips, less butter and smaller strips. Overall I’m happy to see that there is still a real swiss beiz in the Gertrudhof doing good cordon bleus, some more attention to detail would be welcomed.
Damn – I need more money. I have a couple of restaurants in my head which I know would do great in Zurich, one of them was a decent steakhouse. So your favorite food critic was a tad dismayed to see that a place called Goodman has opened. The restaurant is somewhat challenging to find, since it’s hidden behind some scaffolding. The vibe is clearly inspired by classic american steakhouses, dark wood, leathery seats and decorated windows. Now I’m neithed an expert in carpentry nor in upholstery, but I wasn’t convinced that it was natural leather and wooden tables, it felt a bit too perfect and new. The menu is small and cuts right to the chase, meat in all kind of varities plus some appetizers. What I was missing was a great shrimp cocktail and maybe some more seafood options. The most expensive thing you could order was a porterhouse steak (2.2 lbs / 1.1 kg) for a whopping 200 CHF (200 USD). Now I’m not the saving-for-when-I-get-old-type, but even I find 200 bucks for a kilogram of meat vulgar. There was a striploin steak on the menu. I asked the waiter if that differs from sirloin and he told me no, it was just british english for sirloin… Now if you’re bragging you’re doing steak, you should train your staff to know that difference and avoid spreading false information. Also being able to understand the french cooking grades of meat (bleu, saignant, à point, bien cuit) and not having to guess helps. My appetizer was a Caesar salad, nicely done with romaine lettuce and a decent sauce. I wasn’t quite sure if it contained raw eggs and a sardine, but it was certainly a decent version. I need to call out the bread, it was some kind of ready-bake stuff and just not up to standards and disappointing. The striploin steak (a different cut than a sirloin) had a nice dry aged taste and was cooked they way I ordered it. What needs to be called out especially are the frothy and tarragony sauce Bernaise as well as the hand cut french fries which were excellent. The place is going to very popular with expense account holders, inner city businessmen and middle aged drunks (the four gentlemen causing a racaus vis-a-vis my table account to that). Value wise it just doesn’t cut it -70 swiss francs for a piece of meat isn’t worth it, if the surroundings arent’t perfect. The Eisenhof fillet is the better option if you’re looking for meat, Beef Club for the meat cart, the Goodman’s is recommendable if you’re conducting business or need to impress a German. Finances:
We were on our way to a restaurant on Grubenstrasse and walked past a Takeaway and wineshop. The place looked and smelled greek, we entered and a nice old lady is cooking the souvlaki (we thought it’s actually some Keftedakia thanks to Heinz Kabutz –> read comments!). We changed our plans on the spot and sat outside to eat here. We had some souvlaki with Pita and Tzatziki, homemade, tasty and greasy. Real comfort food at a cheap price (12 CHF).