Cafe des Amis was put onto my list of must visit places by a fellow bloggerette. The place is packed on tuesday night, and the crowd is rather typical this close to Kafi Schnaps and Nordbrücke. The drink menu is quite good, and surprisingly they serve a Brasserie de Franche-Montagne beer which was singled out by the New York Times. First dish was a plate of small apero tibits served with some bread. Decent homemade fare, prepared with a lot of care, but there wasn’t much excitement. The tibits exhaled home ed class feeling instead of greatness. I mean really – salmon / creme fraiche pancakes ? Chevre wrapped in roast beef ? Main course was a tartare, now my elder colleague which took me out to dinner started a long discussion wether he should get the small or the large portion, the one depicted in the picture is the large one. We weren’t ask how hot we would like our meat and I also would have liked some capers, onions or pickles to go with the meat. Tastewise it was okay but not spectatular. Overall this place is for drinking, it has a good bar menu. Skip the food it reminds me more of Saisonküche than of fine dining.
Funny enough, I thought there was a place in Aarau called the Riviera, but apparently that was a restaurant. Right next to it is one of the pinnacles of fine dining for Aarau, the
Muerset. It sports multiple dining areas from brasserie to fine dining. The pictures on the website look quaint, so we end up in a table in the corner. Amuse bouche was a celeriac salad with a bit of salmon. The presentation was bad and there could have been more care in trimming the salmon. Next up was a mixed salad which again was somewhat below average. One piece of lettuce was just too big for the plate, the sole tomato in winter made me wonder and the asparagus salad (while a nice touch) was imported from Mexiko. I asked the chef and he did say that he wanted to try something out with the asparagus, nevertheless I’d be expecting some more seasonality in the selection of his produce. The soup which followed was made with lemongrass and some pieces of tuna. Nice flavor combination, good execution, this was the best dish of the meal. Mains was a cut of bison meat with some Canelloni. I like bison and that was perfectly cooked, but the Canelloni were bland. Dessert was Tirolercake which normally brings back memories of my mother making a delicious snack. In this rendition it was more like some dry stuff you get prebaked at the Migros. Maybe it was just a bad day here, but from menu composition, quality of execution and produce this place wasn’t up to the alledged 14 Gault Millau points. Prices:
Asparagus are visible at all the supermarkets, flown in from all over the world. It takes great restraint to avoid ordering some, since after winter the craving is enormous. When the waiter beams at me and tells me that they have great, fresh asparagus from Mexiko, I just give him the evil eye and order something else. But finally with the first german asparagus showing up (from Baden) I tried my luck at the Sternen in Flaach. They have fresh asparagus from Flaach (a small village in the Zurich Weinland) since mid-April. My Saturday night was saved. The lovely spring companion of asparagus is morels. The ravioli with asparagus was complemented by the morels with cream sauce and probably cognac. Nice fresh opening of the meal, a great way to break the asparagus drought of winter. The white asparagus from the village were served with ham, vinaigrette and hollandaise. I wasn’t too fond of the vinaigrette but the asparagus were spot on. As a nice side benefit it doesn’t get more regional than eating produce from a farmer 500 meters away. I finish with a strawberry tiramisu, not as much oomph as a real one, but a good interpretation including ladyfingers. Real swiss asparagus are expensive, goes to show that flying produce in from all over the world is just too cheap:
People whose idea of an adventure is an all inclusive vacation in Koh Samui, should get ready to take it to the next level. The Restaurant Rangierbahnhof aka Schnupf on Neufrankengasse (next to Langstrasse) is a harcore Beiz. The legendary Bombay Bar and Tessinerkeller have been gentrified and are being replaced with appartments for millionaires. Really – who in his right mind is paying 2.5 million CHF for an appartment right next to the train tracks? Countering this development pretty effectively is the aforementioned Rangierbahnhof. A dark and wooden interior with a small garden in the back complement this dining establishment. We start with a salad which is part of the dinner menu. The best thing was that whoever selected the tomato really knew what he was doing. The sauce had a garlic tang and wasn’t homemade. Main course was a tad disappointing, french fries weren’t crunchy and the cordon bleu was a prefabricated ordeal. I’ll give the waitress a lot of credit for creating a dessert surprise to match our craving. To be fair – this is a place you visit because you’re either looking for a Jass expert or are in need of a drink, the food is here to provide vitamins which aren’t part of beer. The adventure part comes from avoiding the rambling drunk guy wearing combat trouser at the entrance. He goes off at everybody walking by, screams and gurgles unintelligible and get’s threatened by the owner with immediate eviction. This usually works for five minutes, during which he gives everyone the evil eye, before the cycle starts all over again. I think the new neighbors will enjoy this chap immensely and he will fill their hearts with joy.
Things not quite going according to plan is normal, but outright disaster or abysmal failure do not adequately describe the situation of the football venues in the City of Zurich. Instead of a decent stadium, an architectural impressive, yet functionally flawed multi-purpose thing was created. One can argue wether placing a picket fence around the facility, where one can pass objects through the gaps inside the stadium, is inline with the architectural mantra of form follows function or not. Incompetence on the verge on neglect is the fact that Implenia which built the stadium, screwed up on the Steel construction of the year 2007. The roof and the accompanying beams were rusting and in danger of caving in. Hence additional supporting beams were added obstructing the view of the spectators, until a permanent solution was found. By the law of Karma, at least the food must be stellar. Strolling through the booths there’s an offering which could be found at any stadium – French fries, bratwurst, pizza and burgers. I chose a portion of fries. Unfortunately just adding a bit of herbes provencal to oversalted and underfried potato sticks doesn’t salvage the experience. Every Gruempelturnier has a guy working a fryer churning out fries, unsure why one of the biggest players in the catering industry ZFV can’t make it happen. Next up was a Letziburger, funny enough, towards the end of the game these are sold for a mere 3 CHF (and they had dozens left). The bread was actually okay, but the burger paddy was not 100% beef, was lacking any char on the outside and with that none of the smokiness a real burger should have. No wonder, they are apparently cooked on an electric grill plate. The whole setup was too ridiculous I skipped on having a bratwurst. The thing to do is, eat & drink outside of the stadium.Horber the butcher or the Restaurant Schlachthof both have real grills and serve real tasty grub. This is a prime example where instead of going for what the people like best, some caterer was selected because of their concept. There needs to be a campaign for real food for real football fans!
The Hardhof with the Fässlibar (Barrelbar) at the Albisriederplatz is the type of restaurant where elder men in their sixties drink their beers between lunch and dinner. Surprisingly a face lift was applied and I must say a rather tasteful one. It kept part of the patina of the old (somewhat grimy) restaurant, but in a clean, modern, open and light fashion. There is now a nice coffee bar and it is clearly catering towards the more urban customer. You could have take a business associate here in the old days if he was ready for a small adventure – now you can take him there without judging his risk appetite first. I ordered a Piroggen which I was told was Canadian. It’s a meat filled pastry served on salad. The execution didn’t satisfy me, the dough and the filling had the same texture, the meat was bland and the salad it was served on cut into pieces which were too large. Mains were ramson noodles with chanterelles (Bärlauchnüdeli mit Eierschwämmli). Obviously I got mushrooms instead of chanterelles and politely complained. They apologized for their mistake – the chef didn’t have any and forgot to inform the front of the house – and offered me a coffee. Now I would have preferred chanterelles, since the mushrooms with the tomatoes overpowered the ramson noodles. However the noodles initself were delightful. Overlooking these issue – I was very pleasantly surprised by the remodled interior and the new menu. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt, since they handled my complaint professionally and swift – goes to show that if you take your cutomers seriously, you can turn a potential bad situation into a better one. I’ll be back – skipping the Canadian Piroggen – prices are adequate for the Albisriederplatz: