One of my beloved readers wanted to choose the next restaurant so together with my associate we joined her for brunch at this new restaurant Fork & Bottle. It is near Allmend Brunau where the ill-fated Casa Bonita used to be (in terms of music on the website Casa Bonita still leaves a lasting impression). We’re pleasantly surprised by the attractive and seducingly dressed lady, after all what better way to start a Sunday than being treated to brunch ? The menu features american classics of all kinds from pancakes to breakfast burritos down to eggs benedict. The “farm-raised” eggs were served on crab cakes, with home-made sauce hollandaise and advertised to be accompanied by hash browns. I’m all for honesty in menus and the dish was served with tasty roasted potatoes but not a hash brown roeschti like cake I was expecting. The crab cakes could have been a touch firmer and more delicate, but just getting crab cakes in Zurich is a treat. If they’d add Boston baked beans, that would be a great move. The second part of brunch turned out to be interesting as well, they have a large selection of artisanal beer advertised as being from Italy. Funny that roughly half of them on the menu are actually from Stabio in Ticino… Sampling through them I enjoyed the “Oat Soda” one modelled after the Big Lebowski. Don’t be fooled by that Disneylandish touch, a bitter strong and tasty beer emerges underneath. Fork & Bottle is certainly an upgrade from the joint it was before and I’m looking forward to warmer weather, where the beer garden will do great.
It seems that Social Media restaurants are becoming the next new thing in Zurich. After Wurst und Moritz a place called Facefood Cafeopened next to the Gueterbahnhof. I wasn’t expecting much, since it took me three attempts to eat here. On the first one they were closed (opening times weren’t updated) and apparently they don’t serve food in the evening (chef was already home) so I tried it for lunch. I was planning on going for the gourmet hot dog, but at 9 CHF with fries it didn’t think that was going to be a full meal. The menu salad was served with sauce on the side, which had too much garlic and was too thick. The main dish was a pleasant surprise. The fish was still moist, the potatoes nicely cooked and the spinach was seasoned expertly. There might not be a salad sauce expert in the kitchen but for a quick lunch this was certainly a good attempt. The only question raised was if the Corporate Identity of the Cafe is acceptable to a certain social network ? Anyway you can use their page to submit suggestions and other input, interesting too see how this develops as a next level of client interaction in the swiss gastronomy scene. Prices:
The Ziegelhütte in Schwamendingen has been relaunched by a well established restaurant entrepeneur. I was looking forward to seeing what they had to offer. The menu was pretty enticing with a local Zurich touch and someone who cares about ensuring a strong swiss influence. I start with a Schwartenmagen (headcheese) paired with a tarragon sauce. Nice balance between meat and pickles, the tarragon sauce added a good touch of acid, maybe there was too much gelatin in the headcheese and I would have enjoyed more of the tasty bits. Staying with the stomach topic, tripe with morels and vegetable was next. Interesting how the texture and appearance of the morels and the tripe paired, the taste was good, the vegetables cooked nicely, the sauce was a touch too thick but again a surprising and tasty dish. My main course was a cipollata sausage paired with a pork chop from a swiss wool swine. I opted for Roeschti instead of the beans. I was disappointed slightly about the roeschti. It had a good taste of potatoes and butter, but it wasn’t crunchy enough. Nothing to complain on the meat, someone knows how to select his butcher. I liked the gentle renovation of the Ziegelhuette and if you’re looking for a tasty, honest and down to earth dinner – this is the place. Prices:
Beyond is in a not so cozy sidestreet just next to the Zurich main station. I’ve been here a couple of times and one of the main drives was that I see busloads of apparently chinese tourists having dinner here. There are two types of menu, one an hommage to the fine dining establishment of Suan Long, calling out boring and dumbed down “chinese” dishes. The second one is a mix of english and chinese and has the much more interesting dishes. Now my dining companion was leaning more towards the traditional menus and we mixed and matched. A special notion goes to the scallion pancake, where the crispiness of the pan cake was nicely matched by the fresh crunchiness of the scallions, a great dish for people who have never had it before. It’s certainly not fine dining as in a romantic, first-date setup but if you’re looking for decent Chinese this is certainly in the top three in the Zurich area. Prices:
Never ever did I think I’d be writing about Cinema popcorn, but the Abaton gave me reason to rant. Popcorn isn’t that difficult to make, even I was able to master the skill at about 8 years of age. The fun part was peeking below the lid to see if you could actually watch a corn pop. The dismay was with my mother which would find popped corn in half the kitchen days later… Anyway I watched a move at the Abaton (Hugo). I mainly went there because it was directed by Scorsese and was disappointed by the film. To make matters worse the popcorn was disgusting, not only was it cold and already a tad soggy, it was lacking salt and there was no butter on it. I mean really, you’ve got a machine which makes popcorn and even you can’t get that right ? While I’m at it, another thing which is starting to irritate the heck out of me is that the fact, after importing horrible german supermarket chains (Aldi, Lidl), more and more Cinemas in Zurich are starting to show their movies in a dubbed over version instead of the original language with subtitles. To image the weirdness think of Bruce Willis saying loud and clear “Yippee-ky-yay, Schweinebacke” (pig cheek) with a voice which isn’t his. But I guess this solves the mistery, the KITAG must be getting their popcorn from a hard discout supermarket chain, thus raising their profit margin at the expense of my cinematic viewing experience.
After this debacle I was in dire need of something comforting. I headed to the Würstli Shop opposite the Hotel Sonne and had my regular dish. A pork sausage with onion sauce and french fries. While watching the curious characters in the area I tucked in and while it wasn’t michelin star it made me happy. Also I had a bay leaf in my onion sauce which is a testament that this fast food shop is an honest and heart-felt affair aiming to please diners. Now I seldomly eat two dinners, but every once in a while a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.
Saturday night and my colleague I was supposed to meet is no longer responding, since apparently (which I learnt later) he fell asleep in front of the television. Anyway one of the options I had planned out was going to the Gaumenfröide event at Restaurant Mühletal at the Limmatstrasse near the Dammweg tram station. The restaurant is running a mixed crew, the old proprietor is serving his swiss lunches while at night a different team is responsible. They feature guest amateur cooks which get a chance at running a restaurant every now and then and call the event Gaumenfröide. This particular event made me curious since the food sounded enticing. I walked over here alone and – you wouldn’t believe it if it were a movie – an old friend from school drives by. We end up eating dinner together. The restaurant is real old school swiss and if gentrification continues the way it has, in about five years places like this will be featured at the Landesmuseum. There’s a set meal at these Gaumefröide events and your only choice is with or without dessert. We start with a lukewarm vegetable salad, I loved the Kohlrabi, would have liked a bit more crunch on the beans but overall a nice, heartfelt way to start a meal. Next was something called “Rys und Pohr”, a risotto with leeks and ramson pork sausage (Bärlauchbratwurst). If you ever asked yourself why some people call themselves “terroirs” this is why. Great sausage, great risotto (maybe a bit much cheese) – what else do you need? This was one of these main courses where afterwards I feel like spawning offspring of my own. The meal finished with an apple roeschti and cinnamon ice cream, the resident pomologist (someone who studies apples) wasn’t happy with the choice of apple, but otherwise nice. For a dinner with three people including beers, wine and schnaps we payed less than 200 CHF. I’m looking forward for more of these Gaumefröide events and am inclined to test the lunch menu since these are still executed by the former proprietor.