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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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…
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:
Sometimes I get lucky. Besides the now defunct el Bulli, there are some other places I can’t just walk into. Swiss Re has a famed on premise restaurant, which is for employees, clients and guests. Interestingly there is a dress code here (suit and tie), which is strictly adhered to. The restaurant is called K2 and while at first I thought it was named after a mountain in the Himalaya, after looking at the room numbering scheme at Swiss Re, I’m not sure the mountain association holds. Anyway, I was excited to get the opportunity to have lunch here. A small amuse bouche is put in front of us revolving around a lovely piece of salmon. Next dish was much more intriguing, scallops with pumpkin, a creative and a very well balanced dish. Main course was a saddle of venison with venison tortellini. Besides being spot on taste, look at the presentation, you’d be paying top dollar in a proper public restaurant. To finish up the meal a tasty dessert made it our way, I forgot what the small cake was made of, since I was focussed on trying to figure out what the sauce draped on the plate was made of and my guess was rosehip (Hagebutte). A friend who works here told me that it’s a fantastic place and quite frankly I didn’t quite believe him at first, since he’s competing for the same position on our football team. I stand corrected, the only thing I would have preferred is the full menu, instead of the three courses which allow you to get back to work in 90 minutes. It is difficult trying to rate a place like this, simply because access is somewhat restricted and you can’t just waltz in here every day to make sure you get a good feeling for it’s consistency. If I was pressed I’d rate the place somewhere in the 16 point range (as per Gault Millau). Quite frankly, this is a major plus for Swiss Re as an employer. If I were to receive a fantastic job offer from two companies, one being Company X and the other one Swiss Re, hands down I’d pick Swiss Re. In terms of perks, the choice between fantastic lunches or reduced Reka Cheques is an easy one. As a matter of fact, I’m checking their job listings to see if they need a residential food critic with swiss army experience.
UPDATE: Seamus Egan actually reached out and informed me that technically I was in the Bistro which “is a light version from the Restaurant, we cook with simple products, new menu every day with fresh & good ingriedients.” So I guess I’ll twist another guy’s arm to get a followup invite – Sergeant (Wachtmeister) P from Appenzell I wanted to thank you for the great time we had in the Swiss Army Wiederholungskurse 🙂
So I’m sitting in the train, I am hungry and I buy a ham sandwich off the cart. It’s shocking how much effort the producer of these sandwiches puts into making them taste bad. Some gummy bread in a special atmosphere so it doesn’t spoil presents itself to the diner. When you pop the plastic cover you hear a “soooshhhh” of the air pressure which is normalising. Incidentally the same technique of atmospheric overpressure is used in bunkers (maybe that’s where the gastronomic inspiration came from, also read up on something which used to be called Pflichtkonsum in the Swiss Army). There’s neither taste in the sandwich nor is there any love which is bestowed on the hungry diner, it screams airplane food all over. Why can’t they cut a piece of a decent loaf of bread and put some proper ham or cheese between two slices ? Really how difficult can it be to make decent sandwiches ? But apparently Passagio Railbar is concentrating all it’s ressources on the coffee (which isn’t that bad). My solution is to head to the train station 5 minutes earlier and grab a decent sandwich at one of the bakeries (Sprüngli, Kleiner, Stocker). Most of them are better and cheaper than the CHF 6.90:
When you think of Kloten the first associations are Limi Wäger’s Snus Bar (not sure if the former player is still affiliated with it) and a tragedy in swiss business history. Not that I ever had the pleasure of visiting the Snus Bar, but quite frankly if you’re not into Hockey, what else is there to do in Kloten ? There’s an interesting restaurant called Rias somewhere in the town center. I got a table for one and plopped into the seat. There’s a half open kitchen where you can see what’s going on. I had too smile at the appetizer a pumpkin soup with salty popcorn dusted with herbs. The soup was great, really airy and light, I would have liked the herbs to stick a bit more to the individual kernels. The foie gras variation was a strong showing with no complaints from yours truly. The fish dish again was a nice execution, to be fair I wasn’t convinced if the lobster was needed. Moving on to mains a strong calf cheek with lovely vegetables (crunchy and a nice touch of butter) as well as a good and very tasty mash. To finish off the meal, I had to smile again since I saw a dish called “I don’t know what to get”, which I ordered. The waitress asked me if there was something on the menu which I liked very much and they included the “Hüppen” on the plate of desserts. I was surprised at the strong showing of this restaurant and if you’re in the area I can recommend dining at the Rias. Prices: