ValeFritz im Dakini, Brauerstrasse, Zurich
A friend told me about a place called Dakini and a guy called Vale Fritz cooking there. Being the ever inquisite omnivore a trip to this restaurant was high on my list. The Dakini is a B & B by day and late night, Vale and his crew run it as a small restaurant during the evenings. Atmosphere is informal and the crowd is rather young. Certainly not your regular Gault Millau type of diner will be found here. The menu is simple, there are four courses and you get to choose how many you like, but that’s it (unless you have an allergy). Even though personally I have a hard time understanding why people will eat Fugu on a trip to Japan, but are fearful of getting a rash on their butt for eating peanuts…. Vale Fritz puts me in a good mood by sending a Ceviche as an amuse. I personally liked the dish, it wasn’t extremly elegant but captured the essence. I also think that this dish shows exemplary how the US is making great strides in the culinary world. Originally from Peru, ceviche is now known to housewives in Baltimore, whereas in Europe it still is more of a novelty item. Next dish was a white asparagus in a white wine sauce with some hazelnuts on top. It actually worked well together, however some creaminess would have made it better. The intermediate course were some scallops with vanilla-corn cream and some apple. Here the chef showed some real ingenuity. The flavor profiles came together nicely, the scallops (even though they weren’t seared) had enough salt to balance the sweetness of the corn and vanilla. Obviously the apple contributed the needed acid. Main course was introduced as a “masculine dish”, which consisted of tatare, carpaccio and warm beef fillet. The absolut winner on this plate was the red wine reduction which was paired with the beef. The plate was a intelligent and playful combination of temperatures and textures. Visually it wasn’t stunning. If you look at the chinaware – they send a very old school, thrift shop message. To a hip and trendy place, I think this could be solved in a better way. Dessert was a cheesecake with a nice level of saltiness and not of the usual oversweeted kind. Nice way to end the dinner. But the best part were the prices. The whole feast was a ridiculous 58 CHF. Jackie Donatz cheapest veal chop is more expensive….
The Vale Fritz at Dakini reminds me a bit of the Bonvivant in Basel, albeit a younger, wilder and less refined version. Overall it’s playful, innovative and extremly fair prices – there’s a lot of raw talent here.