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Cafe Huusmaa, Badenerstrasse, Zurich

Menusalat

Rindsgulasch mit Spaetzli

Huusmaa opened recently near the Kalkbreite. I wander over for lunch since I happen to be in the area. One thing that strikes me a bit odd is that they have 5 dishes on the menu for a lunch with maybe 30-40 seats in the dining room. I think that’s a bit too much for a place this small. The small menu salat wasn’t dried properly which watered down the sauce and gave it a bland flavor. The main course was a beef goulash with spaetzli. The goulash hadn’t cooked long enough so there wasn’t that much flavor to it. The spaetzli were fried quickly, but a tad of cheese and butter would have enhanced the dish as well. I like Huusmaa for a coffee and reading the newspaper, I’m not sold on the lunch. They should reconsidered reducing to one or two dishes and making those spectacular. Prices:

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Dining Car, SBB, Zurich-Bern

Kürbisquiche

Riz Casimir

Do I hate myself ? Do I have an underlying masochistic streak which is starting to come to the surface of my personality ? These are types of questions I find myself pondering after virtually every meal in the dining car of SBB, since I keep on trying even if I get disappointed. The SBB homepage actually calls out Riz Casimir being available and how proud they are that Studi has designed the new menu. Now I’m not quite sure but this guy has never ran a restaurant (nor does so currently) and get’s all his fame from different tv shows. Who knows maybe the SBB board was impressed by the fact that he had a middle initial… Anyway I’m already bitching and haven’t even tried his hot food. I really like the dining car, there’s nothing better if you’re into trains and travelling, then having a meal while looking out the window. I jump on the noon express from Zurich to Bern and study the menu. I settle on a seasonal (nice touch) pumpkin quiche and a staple swiss food Riz Casimir. The quiche was a mess – look at the presentation, it looked like something was taken from the Findus deepfreeze selection and thrown onto a plate. A rather minimalistic concept was chosen in terms of decoration. Tastewise I really can’t say, since it was microwaved an so piping hot you could barely eat it and the crust was soggy. Moving on to the Riz Casimir the sauce was uninspired, lacking depth of flavor and quite frankly I thought the dish was a bit stingy on the amount of chicken. The whole meal didn’t meet 7th grade mandatory cookery class level, not sure if our favourite swiss tv chef is doing himself a big favour. Rechnung:

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Old Swiss House, Löwenplatz, Luzern

Hirschbratwurst mit Trüffelsauce und Rahmwirz

Consommé mit Mark

Wiener Schnitzel à la maison mit Nudeln

After a visit to the Verkehrshaus (Swiss museum of transportation) we needed to find a decent place to eat. Our quest led us to the Old Swiss House. At first I was a bit hesitant, I wasn’t sure wether it’s tourist trap judging from the website, but it’s more of the Luzern version of Zurich’s Kronenhalle. Just looking at the photos of past visitors give you a good idea who visits here. My first course was a deer sausage on savoy cabbage with truffle. The sausage was a bit weak in taste for my liking, the truffle sauce had real chunks of truffle, but the best thing was the cabbage, which was expertly cooked. Next dish was a simple soup with bone marrow and vegetables, no complaints (except that I would have preferred the whole bone). My main course was the Wiener Schnitzel which is served tableside, the same way it has been prepared in the last 65 years. It’s a nice dish (even though it has cheese in the breading and is cooked rather slowly), what I wasn’t a big fan of where the noodles with bread crumbs which is served as a side order. The Schnitzel’s breading is a bit dry and the butter cooked bread crumbs which are then sprinkled on top of the noodles are just too much. All in all this is a great place for fine, old school dining, maybe ordering a different side dish to the Schnitzel can help.
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Les Alliés, Rue de la Pontaise, Lausanne

Escalope de foie gras au vinaigre de framboise

Entrecôte de bœuf ,sauce béarnaise

Vacherin Mont-d'or

I’m intentionally staying murky on the details, but proper planning, a high-performing team and a cunning execution strategy led to a project being finished early. This freed us up for dinner in the lovely city of Lausanne. Some quick research led to a restaurant called Les Allies becoming the goal of our gastronomic exploration. Quite frankly the two main factors were a decent rating on Restorang and a picture showing wooden tables. The place has a very unique layout, it’s 3 rooms in different shapes and sizes which make up the restaurant, quirky and intruiging. The menu was small with roughly 10 dishes overall. My appetizer was a pan seared foie gras with salad and raspberry vinegar. I enjoyed how the fleur de sel sprinkled on the perfectly cooked goose liver gave it that extra little kick. This was a fantastic dish. The next course was an entrecote with baked potato, vegetable and Sauce Bearnaise. Nothing to complain, except that I would have enjoyed a bit more of the Sauce Bearnaise. Since we were feeling exceptionally good, we decided to treat ourselves to dessert. I opted for the Vacherin Mont-d’or with a mango chutney. I didn’t care that much for the chutney, but simply since I firmly believe with good cheese one doesn’t need anything else. The Vacherin was excellent, rich and deep in flavor and made a great end of the meal. Overall this was a good choice for getting some real feel of Lausanne, since it’s a few blocks off the beaten pack and also quite simply very good food at reasonable prices:

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Restaurant Bären, Hauptstrasse, Mägenwil

Pouletfilet am Stecken mit vier Saucen

Felchenfilet-Kombination geräucht und als Ceviche

Provenzalischer Eierschwämmlisalat mit Verveine und Zucchiniblüte

Wildschweinrücken mit Miniapfel, Rotkraut und Polenta

Weisser Pfirsich mit seinem Sorbet, Lavendel und Cantucci

The Bären Mägenwil is tricky to reach on a 125cc Scooter, since it involves riding on the Autobahn. The place is packed on a Saturday night. I study the menu and since they pride themselves for chicken, I decide on getting some chicken breast skewers as a pre-appetizer. Not sure that this was a good idea, since it was pretty bland chicken on a stick, the sauces helped a bit. The next dish was a combination of whitefish served on avocado. I wasn’t too fond of the ceviche part since it was cut rather thick. Also ceviche for me is a light dish, which doesn’t pair well with the avocado. I was happier with the next dish, a verveine and chanterelle combo served on a zucchini flower. Interesting how the verveine paired with the chanterelles, this was a new yet fully convincing taste for me. The main dish was a piece of wild board with the usual game season side dishes. I’ve had a lot of game dishes where the sides were prepared with more love. Neither the red cabbage nor the apple were really convincing, the Polenta was good. Points again were scored on the dessert, white peaches, lavender, white peach sorbet and cantucci. This is one of the first times I’ve actually liked the use of lavender on a dish. Is the place worth driving from Zurich to Mägenwil on a 125cc Scooter on the Autobahn at night ? No, but in all fairness it had certain dishes with merits, which I’d order again (Chanterelle & White Peaches). And then again, what was I thinking by riding a not-so-bad-assed, not-a-real motorcycle on the highway. It must have been my strong commitment to you, my trusted, beloved and truly valued reader. I would like to point out that there was a celebrity in the house, Mario Barth had a show in Zurich and was stopping here for dinner. I guess if you’re used to german restaurants, this was a fantastic choice, since prices are rather reasonable:

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Pimp my meat, COOP’s unique approach

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So some of my trusted readers had noticed I’d posted an article on the same topic. I got home after an emotional very touching event and was angried when I saw what the Swiss supermarkt chain Coop did to its trusting customers. I’ve decided to rewrite this article in a more sensible fashion. Coop has been caught in betraying the trust of thousands of customers across Switzerland. The Article published in the Tagesanzeiger explains how meat which was beyond its due date, was sold by either chopping it up or selling it in the fresh meat part of the butcher section. So I’d walk into the place buy something to cook and I got old and potentially health-threatening meat without knowing. Is that what you would expect from a swiss premium supermarket ? Was that what Gottfried Duttweiler (founder of Migros) had in mind when he introduced the supermarket concept to Switzerland ? Quite frankly I’m okay if you sell meat which is past it’s prime official expiry date, since food and health regulations tend to be completely estranged from reality, but you must declare it, because then it becomes my conscious decisions. If you’re buying fresh meat at the butcher’s counter, without any further warning your expectation is, it’s fresh and within all specifications. If you recall the BSE (mad cow) disease rampage in England, as soon as the beef price dropped, people scooped it up regardless of the spongy brain risk, but again – at least it was a conscious decision. Besides being angered at Coop for their poor business antics, I am disappointed that this happens in Switzerland, where were used to paying a bit more but getting top quality in return. Personally I think that with the market entry of discounters such as Aldi or Lidl, this has increased the willingness to cut corners in quality, since suddenly the price is the only relevant feature of a product. My personal takeaways from the whole Coop meat cock-up ? Firstly, build and maintain a lasting and meaningful relationshop with your local butcher, Alfred Biolek never failed to stress that in this tv shows (“Fleischer Ihres Vertrauens”). Secondly make sure your local political representative is pushing for releasing the food inspector’s reports to the public, since this is the only way that markets (and restaurants) are pressured to keeping up their standards. And lastly, eat more meat since high turnover at the meat section will prevent businesses from worrying about their slow-selling inventory. Expanding on that thought, one could come to the conclusion that it’s the vegetarians which are to blame for all meat scandals, since they lower the overall turnover and increase shelf life. And I’m married to one…

Roi Et, Schöneggstrasse, Zurich

Som Tom Thai

Lab Pet, Om Gay, Koh Mu Yang

The Roi Et offers Thai and Laotian cuisine. We started with a Thai Papaya salad and ordered it “european” hot. The thing was scorching and the next day it literally burned every hair on my butt. I was literally gasping for air and needed a couple of beers to quench the fire. Being a bit wiser we order the main dishes a bit less spicy. We went down the Laotian route and had a duck lab, spicy pork meat and chicken soup. The most surprising dish was actually the chicken soup since it was made with dill. I quite liked the combination it was fresh and unusual. I can’t compare the other dishes with regards to their “Loationess” but it was fun to try out a cuisine I hadn’t known before. Also the sauce that went with the pork get’s a special recommendation. Make sure that you order something at a spice level you are comfortable with…. Prices:

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