The Real Picky Gourmet’s Top 5 Zurich Restaurants::
- The Restaurant – Dolder – quite frankly the best dining experience – one of the very few places where the elegance, sophistication and classiness of the dining room is met by the food
- Stef’s Freieck – One man, one car, one computer – Knight Rider or in this case One chef, one waiter, one kitchen – Stef’s Freieck
- Cafe Boy – Culinary handicraft at a very high level, innovative, interesting events and still not tired & going strong
- Delmonico – Loads of raw talent, virtually immune to advice, strong headed and big balls – my type of kitchen
- Tre Fratelli – One word: Meatloaf
Top Newcomer 2011
ValeFritz im Daikini – 58 CHF for an amuse bouche and a 4 course dinner of pretty high quality with a knack for trying out things. Also likes to leverage salt in desserts.
Zurich’s Disappointments 2011
A close tie but for very different reasons:
Hooters – I hope my mother doesn’t read this – rumour has it I was breastfed until I was two years old – which seems to explain my obsessions at a mature age – I was hoping for a dining experience which would quench all kind of appetites – but the boobs weren’t worth the visit.
Letzigrund – This shames not only swiss sausage culture, it’s simply a scam!
Teufelhof – Part of being disappointed is having big hopes and these not being met – culinary intelligence didn’t seem adequate for the level of finesse the establishment radiates
Zurich has a couple of 5 star hotels. One of the oldest and most traditional is the Eden au Lac. One of the things I’ve always been meaning to try was their Hors d’oeuvre chaudes menu which they’ve been serving for over 50 years. The legend had it that Aga Khan III got bored with eating the large menus and asked for smaller plates and more of them. On a sunday night I reserve a table for one. The dining room airs the grand hotel feeling and it takes you back to the day dining was still an adventure. I’m wearing a jacket and it feels right. An aged british couple dines at the other table speaking german with an accent, showing what british noblesse was all about. A lot of interesting dishes make it my way, while they show a modern influence in its style of arranging and preparation, the names are definitley old school. Barquette Pawlova; Fillet de sole, Prince Murat; Mignon de Boeuf, Helder; are some examples. Personally I enjoyed the Crepes Rossini the best. A very thin crepes wrapped around some duck liver, with a sprinkle of truffles, a simple, powerful and elegant bite. I also enjoyed the beef filet with sauce bernaise. A part of the bernaise was filled into a small tomato, which gave it that nice feeling when Umami meets opulence. The menu hors d’oevure chaud apparently never changes, and I’d like to quote the restaurant here “The big request authorize to such a long
retention on our menu card, which shows that the best quality and proved tradition are
independent of the time.” Source. I’m loving it. While this might not be the pinnacle of fine dining in Zurich, it certainly is almost unbeatable when it comes to Grand Hotel dining. I belive the degustation menu will make it my way pretty soon. But keep in mind you also pay top dollar:
I was feeling slightly uneasy, but read good things about the Holy Taco restaurant in Atlanta. So for lunch I grabbed a cab and drove over there. It was a beautiful sunny day and there’s a nice patio with tables in the shade. I sit down and look at the menu. Immediately I’m exstatic when I order an oxtail epanada, Tacos with chicken, beef tongue and brisket. To start some nachos with salsa and guacamole are served. Suddenly I start to feel more and more nauseous, before even eating anything. Whatever I ate the night before suddenly started acting up. I immediately counter by devoring guacamole in great heaps. The nachos I tried, but for my taste they were too greasy. The main courses arrive and by now I literally feel like throwing up. With great determination I take a bite of every dish and it tastes and smells beautiful, I just can’t finish it. I drink as much Pellegrino as I can too make sure nothing happens. The waitress asks me with a disappointed look if there was an issue with the food. I meekly smile at here and say no, that I’m just feeling a little bit uneasy. Slowly I start to suspect the weird crab salad with mango I had the night before. I leave the restaurant, sad that I was only able to sample instead of devour the great food. My cab brings me back to the hotel just in time….
Great Prices for great food:
Fire of Brazil is a Brazilian steakhouse in downtown Atlanta. We were running late at night, hence we did a quick run to the salad bar. It made me smile – a lot of very ecclectic dishes were served. It was exactly what one could expect, but nothing memorable. The weirdest thing I had was some crab salad with mango. Then the fun part began, people running around with sticks of meat and you would select whatever you’d like. The challenge here is fighting the urge to try all of them and waiting out for the highlights. Overall the choice cuts were okay, but not thrilling and you had to dodge some of the weirder sausages they tried to spring on you. This is a typical place if you’re looking for a lot of food at a low price, but if you like to savor great meat, there are other places.
So I’ve been longing to try some real BBQ in the south of the US, and the Rolling Bones BBQ seemed just like the place. One of the gentlemen who I met up at this converted gas station seemed a little jumpy due to the surroundings, I can tell you that even though I was wearing a suit, nothing happened. Apparently when I got out of the cab some other patrons had to chuckle, this doesn’t seem to be your type of establishment where people go to by taxi. The place is like a fast food joint, you grab your meat at the counter and sit down to eat. I started off with some ribs, which were juicy, smoky and had a decent (not spectacular) sauce on top. I’m not quite sure what this white stuff was, apparently the americans call it bread, it felt more like the stuffing material inside a cheap couch. On the plus side was the brisket, again smoky, with a rich, umami taste to it. My favourite part however was the pork taco I had, simply delicious. I’d have to deduct some points for the side orders, neither the Ocra nor the Cole Slaw were sizzling. Overall a good BBQ joing, cheap and of high quality. Just sitting in the dining room, when they opened an oven it smelt beautiful. To be fair, if you scare easily, not the place you would want to walk to.
Calypso Cafe & Grill is a jamaican restaurant tucked away in a side street in Atlanta. It is pretty empty shortly after noon but starts to fill up as patrons (most of them seem to be regulars) duck in for a meal. I needed to get some input from the waiter since I’ve never eaten at a jamaican restaurant before. I order some crabcakes, followed by jerk chicken and a calypso fruit punch. The latter made him smile and he acknowledged that I was going for the full-blown experience. The crab cakes were okay, not a big fan of the cole slaw however. The sauce was tangy and fruity but served in a plastic container. Now Jerk chicken is apparently a staple food of Jamaica. It tasted like chicken with spices and this is exactley what it is. I’d order the plantains again, but I wasn’t too crazy about the rice and peas. I’ve never been to Jamaica, but I’m sure the place is authentic. There’s no Rastafari smoking weed out front, but I’m sure in Kingston that’s all just hearsay as well. Place is pretty cheap:
Since I really like Seafood the
Atlanta Fish Market sounded like a good place to head for dinner. Valet parking seems to be all the rage in the US, mainly also due to the fact that inner city public transport tends to be slightly underdeveloped. Nevertheless Atlanta is surprisingly green, the abundance of trees is astonishing and if you head up to the Sun Dial Bar you can see for yourself. We got a booth in a quiet corner of the restaurant and study the menu. I start of with some Oysters and some crab cakes. I really liked the crab cakes, the were juicy, slightly sweet and went nicely with the sauce. The fish menu is huge (almost too large for my liking) but the most natural choice was a Rainbow trout from the Georgia Mountains. It was expertly cooked, moist flesh and crunchy skin, paired with some mashed potatoes laced with scallion. It was a simple, tasty and good dish with a strong local connection (I skipped the shrimp cocktail since they were from the Philippines). If you’re into seafood and want a decent restaurant, this certainly is a safe bet.
Rifling through the menu there’s a page to explain who created and designed the dishes. This time it’s Stefan Meier from the renowed Rathauskeller in Zug. He has given his good name to vouch for the quality and the integrity of these dishes. The Zweifel Chips which were handed out with the pre-dinner Gin Tonic were lovely. My enthusiasm clearly showed and the stewardess gave me a second bag. The first dish was a slice of bread (still somewhat crunchy), a small green salad and a terrine of veal and tuna. The terrine was a play of Vitello Tonato, while I liked the idea, probably a regular Vitello would have been more to my liking. Still it was a smart play, since this can reach restaurant quality on a good day. Now I’ve given Swiss International Airlines quite some flak in the past for their weird choices of food they served (Montys, Aralimentare) and since it’s my favourite airline, I hate doing it again. Still, I’m obliged to impartiality. Next dish was a pike perch with ramson sauce, rice and vegetables. If you’re serving a play of swiss cuisine I’m somewhat at a loss what a daikon radish is doing paired with the fish. Looking at the dish and the wilted greens – would Mr. Meier have allowed this to have crossed his kitchen pass at his restaurant ? At least dessert was pretty good. It was a rhubarb mascarpone tiramisu which was very tasty. Overall I still like flying, it’s quiet reading, drinking and eating time, with no cell phone reception – but why can’t anybody solve the challenge of serving a decent main course on a plane ? Think of what your mother cooked and you would warm up. Why not try some Capuns ? It’s swiss, easily reheatable and tasty. Or a stew ? Hearty soup ? Hero Ravioli with grated cheese ? Fondue ? Wouldn’t you like igniting your own personal little burner to melt some cheese ? Or my favourite – Johnny.
Brasserie Bernoulli on the outside doesn’t look all that appealing. It reminds more of a concept chain restaurant than a mom and pop shop, but looks can be deceiving. The place feels like a decent neighborhood eatery and a lot of people seem to be from around the Hardturm area. Before dining I had to drive by the former Hardturm and it is always devestating to see how the government decided to tear down a football stadium, before having a comitted plan to build a new one. The menu is obviously geared at a more health conscious and female crowd, which makes me assum this is frequented by mothers in the neighborhood often. Sweetbreads were with fresh spinach leaves and left nothing to desire. I thought the pear puree with scallops and chilli oil to be a nice combination, only drawback was that I hit a nest of chilli flavour and that scorched my mouth. Main course was a bit disappointing, the vegetables and the rhubarb compote was good, but the peas patties were too dry and overcooked. I enjoyed the dessert, an elderberry flan. I liked the ideas of the chef, but since this was a slow night, execution was quite up to par. If I’m in the neighborhood and looking for a non-fancy bite to eat, this is worth a visit: