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Zum grobe Ernst, Stüssihofstatt, Zurich


Lammfilet mit Rösti "ein wenig spanisch"

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 ?

Posted by therealpickygourmet on 31 August 2011
16 Comments Post a comment
  1. 08/31/2011

    no, please don’t quit

  2. 08/31/2011

    You can’t quit until you’ve reviewed every restaurant in Zurich.

  3. 08/31/2011

    “call it quits” ??? did i read that right ? no way.

  4. 09/1/2011

    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 ?

    Comm’on, it’s an ad-driven newspaper supplement!

  5. 09/1/2011
    Adi from the north

    It’s defenately not. Continue!

  6. 09/13/2011
    Marc Bill

    Zueritipp the “leading food publication of Zurich”? Hardly. Maybe in terms of quantity instead of quality.

    For Zurich and surroundings, I prefer NZZ Gastro ( anytime (not to mention therealpickygourmet, of course). Zueritipp has some really bad testers. E.g. they let people write about asian (particularly japanese) restaurants in Zurich who obviously have no idea AT ALL about the REAL thing. Whenever I read articles of such amateurish food critics, I feel embarrassed and sorry for the restaurant. Never happened to me with NZZ Gastro.

    Just saying. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t also enjoy the company of an attractive lady in her mid-thirties 😉 (and the bad Zueritipp testers I meant are all male, to avoid misunderstandings).

    • 09/18/2011

      I have followed NZZ, but their output seems rather low

  7. 09/27/2011
    Ronnie B.

    Hello Picky,

    I just came accross your blog and am starting to enjoy your write ups. Great job and thank you.

    I must add, while NZZ my be inferior in your opinion, Züritipp is certainly not better. In a city like Zürich where practically all exotic ethnic restaurants serve watered down westernized food, it comes as no surprise that the local food writers no nothing about how the exotic ethnic foods actually should taste. This job should be left to the people who aware of the specific cuisine. If I’m not mistaken, Züritipp even reviewed Burger King!

    For instance, Zürich is littered with swissified Thai, Indian and Chinese restaurants which are frequented by the locals but disliked by the well travelled. While Züritipp might be good for the local, it certainly is not enlightening for the people in the know.

    I am a hotelier by trade and am extremely passionate about F&B. Zürich falls far far behind other European cities such as London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Barca, Berlin in terms of quality of dining. And let me not get started on the very questionable service!

    While Swiss Hotel Schools are some of the best in the world, most of the students and lecturers are international and they do not remain in Switzerland. The quality in local restaurants proves my point.

    You should not have to spend 150 francs per head in order to enjoy a decent meal.

    Keep writing, we enjoy it.

    Ronnie B.

    • 09/28/2011

      Thanks Ronnie. You just made my book of “connaisseurs” for not using the word authentic 🙂
      I do think quality has it’s price (150 CHF is too much) but still a lot of the 6 Euro lunch deals you see need to compromise somewhere, often the quality of ingredients or (eg. when looking into immigrant run kitchens in some places) the wages of the staff. If you want a good meal at fair prices obviously traditional swiss is a very good bet and you end up with great meals. Comparing Zurich with Berlin / Paris / London / …. is not quite fair in terms of size. What is notable if you look at the whole of Switzerland that the average meal quality is rather high and Switzerland is absolutley competitive at the top end. I agree on your comment on ethinic cuisine, it’s kind of like dining at an italian place in Japan sometimes….

    • 09/28/2011

      Oh yes – and while we’re at it – what are your “ethnic” choices in Zurich ?

  8. 09/29/2011
    Ronnie B.

    Thanks for the response Picky. Much appreciated.

    Authentic is a word I rarely use, unless of course when I’m cooking 🙂

    I don’t feel that Swiss restaurants are competitive at the top end, but that’s my opinion. In regards to the size of Switzerland: actually, being of a smaller size should work in their favour, especially considering the high earning potential, the expendable income and the ‘schweizer qualität’ mentality. They should offer the best but they don’t. The product should be better here, but it’s not. Quality vs. Quantity always refers to size. Go to Colmar for example, it’s an extremely small town yet they have better restaurants than in Zürich both in the mid-range as well as upper end dining. I had one of my best meals ever at a Michelin star restaurant in Colmar.

    Furthermore, service and hospitality (hosting) are an integral part of a meal and go hand in hand with the quality of the food to create a perfect dining experience. As most establishments in Switzerland focus on the Gault Millau, they ignore several aspects of service. As you know, Gault Millau awards points on the quality of the food only and do not include service and other intangible aspects of the dining experience when judging. They may offer service reviews on the side, but their main judging is based on the food. This is an error. And most expats living in ZH will agree with me.

    I feel quite limited when it comes to ethnic restaurants in Zürich. Normally I cook at home as I’m also a passionate cook, however, if I’m pushed: for Thai, I go to Ah Hua, for Indian I go to Mundial/Vulcan/Tandoor, for Japanese I go to Samurai, for Italian Il Golosone or MichelAngelo, for Malay TEOH, for Indonesian Dapur Indonesia. But please note, as a regular at these establishments, I always ask to speak to the chef and remind them of my likes and dislikes. And more often than not, I’m served something off the menu and pretty ‘authentic.’ 🙂

    I’m still looking for good Lebanese, Vietnamese & Chinese places.

    Once again, great blog.

    Have a wonderful weekend.


    • 09/30/2011

      Haven’t found a good vietnamese place yet, some have good dishes, eg. the Petit Saigon has good Pho.
      Chinese – Beyond at the Zollstrasse (but make sure you order from the chinese/english menu available upon request and not the western one lying around)
      Lebanese – Try the takeaway on Hafnerstrasse, great Shawarma and meat plates for two.

  9. 10/3/2011
    Ronnie B.

    Excellent thanks Picky.


  10. 01/3/2012

    Adore your blog, keep up the great work.

    Have you ever tried the restaurant Vietnamese at Uetlibergstrasse? I thought it was quite good….

    • 01/4/2012

      Thanks! – Yes I’ve been there for lunch and was underwhelmed – but maybe they do like a buffet lunch and a great dinner ? What dishes would you recommend ?

      • 01/5/2012

        Yeah lunch buffet is ok at best but I liked the dinner there. It’s à la carte and of course you would have to try at least one of the many soups they are so famous for in Vietnam. Remember my ex having a Hủ tiếu (soup) while I went for Bò nướng vỉ, something you can roll yourself in rice paper, both dishes were delicious.

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