On my way back from a small mountain village I passed by a town known as Chur. We stopped at Restaurant Kornplatz for dinner. The place is run by an austrian and sports a mix of swiss and austrian dishes. I quite liked the red cabbage soup mixed with a bit of cream, it reminded me somewhat of a light polish borscht and was unique, intriguing and simple. The first big disappointment were the Capuns, the absolute staple dish of the cuisine of Grisons. Not only was the dough to dry and reminded of Knoedel, the sauce was a very thick cheese / cream concoction, instead of a milk / broth mix, also the bacon strips didn’t add much too the dish (at least it was priced very fairly at 13 CHF). My main dish was also somewhat disappoining, the oxtail was nicely shredded and cooked, but on the salty side and the filet was overcooked. I did like the swiss chard wrapped in bacon which was served as one of the vegetables. The best overall component of the whole meal, was the smoked trout tartare served with red beet on top. Prices:
The competition is intense and the attractive woman in her mid-thirties at the Zueritipp beat me to releasing an article on the Bayeischer Hof. Just like in Poker, I have to up the ante and strike back. The Ly’s Asia Prime Dine has been open for five days and your sturdy, but of elegant proportion food writer has already visted the place. It took me some time to figure out that it’s actually three restaurants in one. After being led to the table I see that the menu doesn’t have any of the dishes mentioned online, after I inquire why that’s the case I’m told that the Prime Dine restaurant is actually upstairs. So to get to where I want to be I need to walk through a Take Away, a regular restaurant before taking a flight of stairs to arrive at my destination. I am the only guest and pick a table with decent lighting overlooking the regular restaurant. Upon studying the menu I am somewhat surprised. Main courses reach prices as high as 98 CHF for lobster with truffles. For that money I’d better be blown away. A short research shows that the owner is (or used to be) affiliated with the Suan Long Chinese restaurant chain. Those who don’t know, that used to be the place which during the late 80ties and 90ties gave us average europeanized chinese food for sky-high prices in Zurich. I might not be impartial, since the only place I was ever kicked out off was a Suan Long restaurant on Langstrasse, nevertheless I went there with a very open mind. My first dish were the Wan Tan Chef style. They tasted of shrimp and scallop, but I would have liked to be thinner and silkier. Next dish was a duck liver salad. What I got was essentially two pieces of duck liver on pineapple. Not sure if the dish was chinese, it reminded me more of a french plate with some asian influence. I did like the use of coriander, it gave a nice contrast. My main dish was breaded duck with taro root and a thick soy sauce. The taro was a tad on the mealy side, and it didn’t add much in taste to the duck. Quite frankly, the food here is the Suan Long concept all over again. Average fare at obscene prices. You’ll get better dumplings at the Dim Sum takeaway at Platzspitz or the Luo at Stampfenbachplatz. The duck liver dish was a trivial attempt at french cuisine, but falling short in execution. The main dish didn’t rock my boat either, I do like to commend the noodles, they were nicely balanced in taste. Quit frankly if you want to bring chinese food in Zurich to the next level, why not surprise the city with the best dumplings ever ? Why not have a chef in the center make fresh noodles and be real novelty ? Offering Chateau d’Yquem at 550 CHF per bottle and other more expensive french red wines is tacky. Keeping in mind that I’m probably not the biggest bargain hunter out there, I do have my limits. Even if you forget my rant – are three average dumplings worth 33 CHF ? Bill:
One of the funniest commentaries I read on le Pain Quotidien, was a diner which missed the post office which used to be in the same spot at the Roemerhof… Ouch! I head over there and the first thing which did miff me a tad, was when I wasn’t given the WiFi password, since this was a place to make people calm down. Seems like a place my mother would enjoy… The clou at LPQ is really that they make fresh bread onsite which you can also buy just like if it was a small bakery. The corporate designers did a pretty decent job, the inside is full of lightly colored wood and gives it a comfortable-in-the-IKEA-kind-of-way feeling. I order the scandinavian brunch, which is assorted breads, salmon wrap, terrine, shrimp, meat, cheese and a poached egg. The serving is quite generous, just the bread basket alone carries a croissant, dark bread, Zopf and some baguette. After eating here I can safely say that it beats the culinary offering of the aforementioned post office. However in a place like this the star should be the bread and it wasn’t. The Zopf or especially with this name here the baguette should knock me off my feet. Crunchy, hard crust on the outside and an incredible fluffy and distinct tasting interior is what I’d be excpecting, possibly still slightly warm from the oven it was baked in. But it’s like a german industrial bakery with an attached Selbstbedienung shop, yes it’s bread, it’s just not very good. Other gripes included the mealy shrimp, underwhelming non-runny Reblochon, the advertised wrap was actually two small slices and the egg was hard instead of runny on the inside. Keeping in mind all the food issues there was one last touch which struck me odd. Looking and listening around the dining room, the crowd is rather international (not much swiss german spoken), hence a place like this could also have been in Singapore, Dresden or Seattle, it just felt a tad soulless. Prices:
The Alte Post in Seebach, prides itself on being one of the few swiss restaurants with real soul. The interior certainly sends a clear statement, this is old school swiss Beiz. Dark wooden walls, a sign forbidding to play Jass after 6 pm and an abundant supply of Blick newspapers would make this what some people call authentic. First I have the soup of the day which is made out of potatoes. I’m willing to bet that Aromat or another comparable flavor enhancer is sprinkled generously upon the soup. All while I’m eating the Abfahrt (Men’s downhill) is being broadcast on the television and the few other patrons (male, swiss, > 45) strike up a discussion of the good old swiss skiing days. It does feel like old times, since Defago snatches the top spot just ahead of fellow swiss skier Küng. I turn my attention to the mixed salad. While not bad, it is lacking effort and I believe it’s been made since this like the last 20 years and is lacking anything to get me riled up. The staple dish here (Menu number three) is Eddys Hackbraten Exquisite (believe me I didn’t make this up), which I had ordered together with some fries. Interestingly enough it is also served with a selection of three vegetables. In all honesty, the Hackbraten is so-so at best, my mom’s or the one at Tre Fratelli are way ahead. But for the price of less than 20 CHF, there isn’t much too complain, especially if you get a complementary copy of the Blick to read during your meal and watch a swiss guy win a downhill ski race. I would like to point out the picture dictating the Jass times:
Restaurant Commerce is an oldtime instituion in Bern. My aunt und uncle would take me there every now and then for dinner. My lovable-yet-slightly-complicated-when-it-comes-to-eating uncle actually had a “Commerce jacket”. This was a special jacket he’d only where to Commerce, since after dining here every one would smell for some days. This day he avoided having to ruin on of his better ones by exosing it to undue olfactorial stress. Insides are all wood and the place has an almost parisienne feeling, since when you walk up to the door (with a reservation) there’s a sign saying you needn’t turn up inside since they’re fully booked (“Comlplèt”). The pulpo was okay I had a starte, nothing to write home about but together with the white Sangria it brings out memories of holidays in Spain (where I’ve never been). I went for the Paella a dish I really like and there’s nothing wrong here, the rice is firmly cooked, it has the right amount of peas and sea creatures. I never know what to do with my fingers so I always make a mess, but I guess this is part of the fun experience. Looking around the small dining room, this really seems to be a family place for virtually all Bern. From young kids to a sixtieth birthday, there’s a lot going on here. The owners’ kid’s running around and gives it a comfy atmosphere. Food might be not stellar, but it’s decent, prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is one of a kind:
What is my main strength in writing about my dining experiences? It’s my relative anonymity. This virtually guarantees that my dining experience is not going to be any different than yours. I’ve met with the Brian from the Dessertblog.ch and
we decided to go for dinner together at the Restaurant Tre in Bad Bubendorf. Little did I know that his approach was subtly different from mine, where I shine in blending into the surroundings, Brian shows up with a large photocamera, multiple umbrellas to direct the light and asks for a separate table to be setup, where he can take pictures of the food. Another aspect was the fact that he called ahead and announced our visit, leading the kitchen to do a special menu just for us, showing off the savoury and the sweet side of their cuisine. Naturally I was more inclined to test the savoury side of things. You’ll spot the difference in quality of the pictures, mine being taken with a mobile phone without any special lighting. On the savoury side I’d like to talk about a couple of dishes. The salmon variations were a crafty, tasty and well designed dish to ease into a meal. Each of the individual components showed craftsmanship, a modest touch to plating and a strong chef’s palate for balancing the flavours. Another one was caviar served on top of an egg, tartare and some potato soup. Personally I found it almost a tad overboarding in terms of the flavor profile (caviar, yolk, beef) and the fact that it was sitting in a soup I thought to be somewhat texturally offputting. I think the chef’s style again nicely surfaced in the main dish, which was a piece of venison, cranberry, celeriac puree and celery. Reduction to the max with a twist sums up the dish nicely. To me this really showed off why the place received a Michelin star. Moving on to desserts, I’ll leave most of the comments to Brian. I would like to call out the Warm chocolate cake with textures of the mandarine and the interpretation of chocolate, chestnuts and vanilla. Both dishes radiated elegance and sophistication, if an ice cream cone is Blues, then these represent Jazz music. Something which not only satisfies the sensory needs, but also the intellectual ones. Now to the big debate of the evening (and keep in mind, noone in the group new who I was) – the meal was essentially comped (on the house). Hence the whole affair was somewhat two-sided for me, the chef and his pastry chef obviously have tremendous talent and are at the top of their game, on the other hand this wasn’t quite your typical meal. On the other hand
without the skill and expertise in place, there’s not a chance that you’ll ever get food at this quality. This leaves me with only one option, I’ll have to go back again, this time alone and without someone lugging half a photo studio along. I was asked by a couple of people who’s responsible for the delicate food, Kay Baumgardt is the master pastry chef and overall responsability lies with head chef Gianluca Garigliano.
Reinstoff is a restaurant in Berlin which had just received two Michelin stars. On a roadtrip back from Poland a couple of months ago I was in Berlin. We were running late to the train station from our initial planning and I had singled out reinstoff as the place where I’d go (after ditching my travelling partners) for lunch. I rushed over there with the iPhone guiding me only to find out that they’re closed for lunch… was I ever disappointed. So when I came back to Berlin for a couple of days this was the first restaurant on my list of must see. I had reserved a table for two, but my fellow food blogger had stood me up and I guess I was like the classic myth of a Guide Michelin tester, single man having reserved for two and then showing up alone. Before you get the menu a selection of small, salty tapas is presented to the diner. The duck liver between dry & crispy duck skin almost reminded a bit of Noma’s sandwich and the herbal iced tea lollipop was a funny way to start a dinner. What followed was a wild succession of dishes which offered superior flavours, interesting techniques and even ingredients that were new to me. I’m not going to ratlle off every individual detail of every dish. The ones I liked best were potato harvest (a potato variety) and the oyster with peas & pistacchio ice cream. The food felt very german avantgarde since the intellectual density and the absence of redundancy due to an enormouse concentration of information in every dish was exceptional. The dish I liked the least were the snails with wheatgrass, papadam and mushrooms. I think reinstoff clearly qualifies as a must-visit for anyone enjoying a sensual and intellecutal relationship with food. It’s an experience you won’t forget that quickly and it does away with the feeling of pity you get when you enter an average german supermarket, which sports sausages in jars and idustrial baked bread. reinstoff is a beacon of light and is the cornerstone of a radical development of a new understanding of food in the bustling german captial. I wish we had a place like this in Zurich. Prices where very steep (consider I spent 30 Euros on beer for the kitchen). A funny story I’d like to share was when I got into the taxi outside, I told the cab to take me to a bar (this was a tuesday night). He asked me if I meant a bar with girls and I replied “sure”. After a couple of minutes I’m put off by his smile and it begins to dawn on me. Awkwardly clearing my throat I tell him, that I didn’t mean a brothel but wouldn’t mind if the bar he’s taking me wasn’t an all male affair. After all this is the gay capital of germany. He laughs at me and says it was good that I spoke up, because he was taking me to an gentlemen adult entertainment facility and was glad I corrected our misunderstanding before we got there. He dropped me off at Savigny Platz, where I grabbed a good night cup at the Zwiebelfish.
Unexpectedly, stumbling into decent restaurants is what makes my day. I’m very interested in modern german history (late 19th century onwards), so I started off my trip by visiting the Stasi Museum. I couldn’t resist the lovely stall outside selling meat and over the counter take away offering they had in the shed next to it. I went for a “Pferdebulette” which is a horse burger for a mere 1 Euro 50 with a nice bread and mustard. It’s not often that I head to a museum in such a good mood. The museum itself was somewhat bland since it’s currently residing in a side building and it focussed too much on the technical gadgets. Important topics such as the Rosenholz Dateien are not even mentioned. Oh yean and they wouldn’t let me into the Stasi archives either, since I did’nt have an appointment. How very german. But you’re not reading this blog since you wan’t me ranting about museums in general, you’re interested in my experiences in the world of dining. Wandering back I first picked up a sweater at a local department store since I had tickets for two Berlin Unterwelten tours in the afternoon and thougt I might be cold. Let me tell you something, I did the standard tour 1 and tour 3. Three is not as spectatuclar for a swiss guy, since you’ll most likely have spent time in similar bunkers in the army (except for the one where the whole subway station transforms into one). The first tour is fantastic and I even went so far as to give the tour guide a golden handshake (slipping him a Euro bill) since he was rivetting, interesting and entertaining. If I were a billionaire, I’d donate a hefty chunk of cash to this simply fantastic organisation. But again, I’m missing the point. I walked to a place called Wirtshaus Fünfländereck which I saw when taking the taxi to the museum. I was literally the only guest and even asked if they were opened, but she replied sure no problem and that they’re serving food for lunch. Another two guest appeared about 30 minutes later, but that was it. Now I keep making the same mistake in german restaurants, I apply my swiss baseline of prices and serving size which tends to lead to surprises. Keeping in mind that I already had a horse burger I see something on the menu which catches my attention since it’s pitched as a small thing to eat while drinking. So as an appetizer I order Berliner Bitok, whicH are meatballs, mustard and a pickle. They were homemade, of decent quality and just a bit too much to start off a meal. My main course was a pretty good Schnitzel accompanied with sauteed potatoes (Bratkartoffeln) a staple german dish. What pasta is to italian sons, Bratkartoffeln are to german boys. I’ve once seen a program on television where the crew of a large german freighter went into full-fledged mutiny, since the Smutje (boat cook) couldn’t make Bratkartoffeln. Anyway – they were great and so was the Schnitzel. The whole course was dubbed Wirtshausschnitzel. Only downswide was, that I didn’t finish them since it was too much. Prices (for a swiss perspective) were cheap:
Paris Moskau is a single house in the no mans land next to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. I wanted to go there after a rave review from one of my two favourite sisters. Apparently the german politician Schäuble likes to dine here. The place has around 40 seats and is easy to reach by foot (if you like walking through dark parks). The menu looks interesting and my two companions and myself all pick different dishes. The rock lobster with peppers and pumpkin was a nice way to ease into the meal. The next dish had a couple of suspensful components such as trout cream, ham, roasted onions and pear. Surprisingly this worked to make a well-balanced and pretty unique plate. I was looking forward to the duck liver in tempura batter but got disappointed. Overall it’s a liquid mess and the whole richness, creamyness and depth of the liver is lost, since the thing is no longer in a solid state. My short ribs were on the dry side and the sauce with grill aromas didn’t carry enough punch. Nothing to complain on the venison, except maybe the plating. The big schmear of chive sauce was rather amateurish and looked like my own creative work at the age of six. You won’t be disappointed by dining here, but you’re better of going to a place like reinstoff if you’re looking for a more modern and avant-gardish gourmet dinner. Prices for three:
Restaurant Transit is a newer pan-asian uncomplicated restaurant which was recommended to me by a friend. You sit down, mark all the dishes you want on a piece of pre-printed paper and send off the order with the waitress. The concept is pretty fun and rather cheap considering the amount of dishes I had (didn’t finish them all). But I wasn’t happy with the food, they do a lof of different stuff, but none of the dishes really captured my attention. I’ve read great things about Transit but was slighty miffed after dining here, since the food wasn’t up to par. A good example is the duck in pyjamas dish. It’s duck wrapped in a pancake which is obviously a play of peking duck, but it never managed to capture the magical feeling you get when eating a great duck. Prices: