This is the story of an epic truce. After years of yapping at the heels of the Zueritipp I met one of the editors for dinner. We settled on the restaurant Zum grobe Ernst for our meeting. I stake out the restaurant a couple of minutes in advance and settle on a table where I can watch the door, looking anxiously at everyone entering the door, since I had no clue what a Zueritipp food writer looks like. Contrary to my expectation a classy and attractive woman in her mid-thirties makes it my way and introduces herself. We sit down and have a very pleasant conversation about food, restaurants and Zurich’s dining scene. After deliberating some time we break our discussion to put our order in. My first course was simply called “Ravioli”. I wasn’t too pleased with the dish for several reasons. Not only was the sauce rather heavy (even though someone whisked it up to make it frothy), it contained truffle (oil?) and the ravioli were more like individual wrapped candy shapes, than actual raviolis. I ranted about Kunstuben’s truffle brie and quite frankly the same arguments are valid here. My main course was a lamb filet and a side order rösti with a spanish twist. I was told that the spanish twist was paprika sprinkled on the potatoes. I believe if you play with classics, you first need to have those classics down perfect. I’m not sure what happened to the twist, it was a slightly burned, pretty average roeschti. I didn’t feel or taste the spanish influence and was left assuming that it was the fact that the potatoes were peeled while someone was watching Maja Brunner. While the lamb was of decent quality, the sauce had a high level of acidity and was too peppery for my taste. If you look at the prices of the dishes the restaurant didn’t meet the standard it projected. The food writing authority across the table skipped desserts and since my BMI is skyrocketing I followed suit and we had a riveting conversation about making your own sausages over another glass of wine. We ended our dinner on a friendly note and said our goodbyes. In the aftermath of our meet I went to my favourite bar to contemplate. There was one very interesting question the editor had asked me – “When will you stop writing the real picky gourmet blog” as in when have I accomplished my goal ? I contemplated for an hour, thinking if I’ve managed to get the leading food publication of Zurich to pay for my dinner, isn’t this the perfect time to call it quits ?
Do you want to know the truth why I chose this restaurant to head over for dinner ? It was the music on the website of Casa Bonita. Crank up the volume and listen, it reminds me of Monkey Island, but Shazam reports it’s “Under the Sea”. Anyway with a soundtrack like this – who can resist ? We took a seat outside and study the menu, which features a lot of swiss, indian and mexican dishes. I’m not quite sure what to make of it so I start with a Quesadilla. The cheese was bland and I was expecting more excitement, eg. maybe some scallion between the Tortillas. The menu mentioned lamb tacos and this is what I got interested in. Unfortunately it was more a crunchy bowl filled with meat, than real tacos. Also the garnishes / side dishes weren’t good. Some kudos however to the owner, when we complained that the rice was too salty he apologized and served us a coffee shot. We had two more after that. We weren’t convinced with the food or the concept, a “Bavarian” beer garden would seem like a better fit at this location, since it has a large garden. One thing I’d like to point out, my male co-diner suddenly got glazy eyes, stopped listening to me and when I turned around I saw two blonde angels disappearing into the night. Since they spoke a couple of words with the waiter, they must be regulars and my colleague has wanted to go back every night just to catch a glimpse… my personal interest is purely in the fancy music on the website.
Asia de Cuba is a rather swanky two storied place. The name raises expectations a mix of latin and asian flavors sounds about as exotic as fusion gets. The place is two stories with a communal big dining table in the middle and some smaller tables around it. I like the vibe it clearly is a place for the rich and beatiful and I’m convinced that if it weren’t lunch time on a rainy Friday, that there would be a lot of beautiful women around. The waiter informs me before ordering, that the menu is setup so that the dishes are made for sharing. Hence I shouldn’t go overboard since they have rather large servings. Not that I pay any attention to his warning, I’m here to enjoy. I could go on about every single dish, but I had the same feeling with every course I had (beef dumplings, rock shrimp, ahi tuna). It’s a cuisine which is more about optical and lyrical (sound of the course) WOW than about flavors. The dishes all sound exciting but lack to capture your attention for more than a couple of bites. This is a classic example of a place you go for people watching (or drinks) the food doesn’t warrant a visit. Nevertheless the dining room is pretty fabulous and if you’re looking for a vibrant night, this is the place. Prices:
So I’ve complained about restaurants from the Candrian Catering AG in the past, but I’m always open to positive surprises and won’t cease to give them a new try every now and then. The Brasserie Federal is smack in the middle of the Zurich Hauptbahnhof and offers a huge selection of beers from all over the place. I was in need of a small snack and decided to try the Federal Salatteller. For CHF 16.80 I was expecting more. Obviously everything was precut, doused in industrial salad sauce and by judging from the radishes it’s been lying around for some time. The worst thing however were the eggs – look at the photo – industrial, neverending long eggs (Stangeneier). They look waxy and taste like a candle. Serving food like this shows lack of passion and no love for food.
People who’ve signed up to my Twitter feed will have noticed some comments on polish food in the last couple of days. Reason was a trip to see trains in Znin and Wolsztyn. Overall polish cuisine is great, has strong flavours, a lot of fat and if you’re not working as someone shovelling coal in a steam locomotive, you’ll be gaining roughly a kilogram per week in body mass. Polish gastronomy still has some potential when it comes to customer service, but we wanted the original experience and we got it. We stopped at a place called Restaurant Kaukaska in Wolsztyn for lunch. First course was the polish variant of borscht, which is a clear broth made out of beet root. Tasty, nice acidity and strinking color. My favourite part was the pierogi which came next, essentially some dumpling filled with potatoes. There were other variants I sampled but this one was the best and surprisingly (aside form the pieces of bacon on top) no meat in the dumpling. The next course made me smile it was a piece of pork meat under some red onion confit. The confit was nicely cooked, I wasn’t too fond of the combination with the pork but you really couldn’t complain on the technique. The guy next to me was eating a Zigeunerschnitzel with frytki (french fries) and was very happy as well. I liked the food here and would recommend the place if you’re stopping over. Best thing at the end was the price – 335 Zloty (85 CHF) for 9 people including drinks:
I confess since I have sinned. I let the Zueritipp beat me by a day in releasing a story on the Le Ponyhof restaurant at the Roemerhof. This is the pop-up/stand-in/temporary replacement of Bohemia, while it’s undergoing renovation. I called ahead to reserve a table and even though it was nice weather – they didn’t offer us a choice, but seated us inside. Now I can’t complain since if I do, my critical readers will call me out for calling in favors, hence I remained quiet. To make things interesting I ordered an onion soup and a small chicken club sandwich. I really liked the steak sauce which they served in a small condiment basket which went nicely with the decent club sandwich. The onion soup was lacking oomph and also the toasted piece of bread could have used a more exciting fermented milk topping. The steak frites was a wonderful piece of beef, which was expertly cooked. The small disappointment were the french fries – while nicely prepared and made of real potatoes – they were advertised as more delicate pommes allumettes which they definitely weren’t. Le Ponyhof prepares pretty decent food at advantageous prices:
Quick dinner with an old friend at the Krokodil. Since he’s a lawyer he likes to stay close to where most of his clientele comes from, Langstrasse. I had the sepia a la plancha which were too bland for my taste. That didn’t hinder my colleague from attacking my plate with his fork (see picture). To be fair the texture was good. Next course was a thin piece of veal with spinach and spanish potatoes. I love spanish potatoes but these here were again underseasoned and not crispy enough. The meat was okay, just like the spinach. While the meal wasn’t stellar, the prices are rather low for a spanish restaurant in Zurich: