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Due to a technical issue some words got lost in the title. It should say Best Restaurant / Gourmet / Gastro – Blog in the Swiss part of the World. I’d like to congratulate my colleagues and my friendly competition for the hard work, dedication and relentlessness they’ve shown in the past year. This has pushed me to my limit, enticed me to dig down deep and tickled my creative innerself. I was on top back in the last rating and managed to successfully defend my title. I guess I’m a mix of Beat Breu, Chuck Norris and Thomas Linke. Touched by a bout of modesty, I can safely conceed that all this would have never been possible with all your support. To my male readers I’d like to say, that your rough charm, your capability of drinking vast amounts of hard liquor and your understanding of how the world works is what fascinates me of you as a reader. To my female readers I’d like to point out that you look like you’ve lost a pound, that those boots are a great deal and no, you’re not complicated at all. You think this is corny ? No, it’s simply an honest attempt at flattery, since without you there’s no point in my life as a blogger. From now on, February 28th is the “Real Picky Gourmet Reader Appreciation Day”.
My father had to face a harsh reality, he’s no longer the lead Silverback of the family. A younger, stronger male has taken his place. Finding himself with an abundant amount of time on his hands, I now get phone calls – midday at the office – inquiring about “hopeful, spousal candidates”. A group headed to the Restaurant Wyberg in Teufen. The reason we visited the restaurant wasn’t the semi-remote location (they offer a free shuttle back to the next train station), but the fact that they offer a “Chalber-Gourmet-Metzgete”. Essentially Metzgete translates to something along the lines of “butchery”, so they were doing a gourmet veal selection. Coming back to the topic of males asserting themselves. One of the diners – chef and restaurateur himself – looks at the Metzgete Menu which has 15 positions and says – I’ll eat them all. Obviously this had a cascading effect where others chimed in, all declaring that they’ll eat all of the dishes. I had a feeling how this was going to develop ahead of time so I prepared accordingly that day, to make sure I was physically, mentally and spirtually at my peak. In the morning I went to church and attended mass. There weren’t many people my age, the singing was timid and the hors d’oeuvre served was on the dry side, but I’m assuming that’s beside the point of spirtitual calmness. Ensuring my further mental balance I headed over to the Museum Rietberg to join a tour through three generations of North Indian painters where an attractive & accademically acclaimed woman led us through the exihibition. For gentlemen lacking a hopeful spousal candidate, this seems to beat speed-dating. The ratio of male to female in our group of eight was 1:7. I wonder if this fact leads to a surge in the number of visitors to the museum. After a brief detour home and further studies in gastronomy and food critque (RTL2, Die Kochprofis) I went to the gym. Interesting enough I think the crowd was the same as in church. Coming back to our small dinner, keeping in mind my thorough preparation, I bravely accepted the challenge, even though my co-diners outweighed and outtowered myself. We got down to business. The veal broth was intense, with a nice quail egg. The next dish was a play of a Satay, I liked the flavour of the sauce, but thought that maybe the rather delicate veal is the wrong type of meat. I was blown away by the veal cheeks with an apple chip and some piece of candied apple, simply a marvelous combination and my favourite one of the night. The fried veal head on top of tomato fell somewhat short, it was too fatty and tomatoes in February aren’t my thing. Also the veal tartare with salad and orange-mayonaise had a too sweet and fruity note for my taste. Veal sweetbreads with a delicate fennel chip, tarragon sauce and black rice was lovely. I had an interesting discussion with the chef who joined us later after our dinner. When I mentioned that I thought the rice was a tad overcooked he laughed and said yes he thought so too. If he’d be cooking in downtown Zurich, he’d have cooked it less, but here out in the country if he doesn’t cook it through, it gets sent back. The answer clearly showed that the chef has a high level of culinary skill, since it was a conscious decision and not just a random act. It continued on a high note, kidneys on lentils covered with a potato foam had a strong and full flavour, but none of the stench that it’s sometimes accompanied by, magnificent. Veal tongue came with a falafel and some pea puree, nice and a decent combination. Back up to heaven was a veal ravioli with morel sauce, I could have eaten a dozen, if it hadn’t been for the other courses to come. Voressen, which is a kind of ragout, came with a bit of mash and a flavourful sauce. I liked the small Wiener Schnitzel, a lovely breading, but wasn’t too thrilled about the potato salad which had a heavy mayo base. By now one of the co-diners was sweating profusely, he had hot flashes and his female companion thought he looked pale and should stop. He’s ego wouldn’t let him. The veal liver was okay, the roeschti wasn’t, it lacked crispiness and was a bit too soggy from the butter. I’ll be honest, by now the nice buttered piece of bread I ate before the dinner didn’t seem to be such a good idea after all… The highlight of the veal roast with prunes were the semolina half moon shaped things, which were slightly roasted in the pan. Finally (roughly 5 hours after we began) the last course appears – a fillet of veal with saffron sauce, tagilatelle and a scallop. I had to really reach deep down inside, but I managed to finish this plate as well. In hindsight it was too much, but it was a fun way of really experiencing all the dishes. I really liked the event, I thought the chef and the brigade showed a lot of talent, culinary intelligence and also they seemed grounded enough to pull of some pretty simple, yet amazing dishes (think veal cheeks). I ordered a homemade quince sorbet with vodka to finish off the meal and was amazed one last time. Prices were pretty fantastic (keep in mind this here was for eight people), the amount of alcohol is easily explained by two diners being restaurateurs having the next day off and two other diners playing in a death metal band:
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:
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.
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…
Hanoi Garden opened up near the Bahnhof Wipkingen where the former Liston restaurant used to be. The vietnamese place seems to be a family affair. A swiss guy is running the front of the restaurant and since he’s also taking care of a small boy running around the dining room, this seems a fair assumption. I liked the spring rolls, they’re lighter and better tasting than the chinese restaurant equvivalent. The fresh springrolls were fresh but I would have enjoyed more herbs inside and a different sauce. It was the same vinegar based dipping sauce as with the fried ones, I craved for a peanut based variant. The main course was pretty vietnamese, a soup based dish calle Bun Cha, where you throw in noodles, herbs and vegetables to your liking. It was using proper pork belly (heavy on the fat) and not the lighter bacon, hence it’s not going to be a big hit with women. It had a nice heat (a european hot) and the flavor of the broth was spot on. What I’d also like to call out is that the “Grosses” (pint) is only CHF 5.50, which is a pretty good deal. I’ll be back:
Weibian has a somewhat confusing message. One sign clearly says “chinese specialities” and the next one goes on to talk about Sushi. Anyway I’m not scared easily (except by dogs) and bravely entered the location. Scanning the menu we decided to try the hot pot (the evolutionary ancestor of the swiss fondue chinoise). Fish, meat, vegetables, mushrooms and noodles are served on a couple of plates. I like the soup bowl which has a divider which allows for two different broths. One being a bit spicier than the other. Price value was pretty good on the dish and the ingredients were of decent quality. I would have liked a much broader variety of ingredients. If this is aiming to be a great hot pot place (and to be frank I don’t know of any other in Zurich) there should be a menu to choose your meats, vegetables etc. from and different broths as well, depending on your mood. Still if you’ve never had it, it’s worth the visit, especially at these prices:
Getting beaten at your own game hurts – the Zueritipp beat me by 18 hours in reviewing the new Helvti Diner. I had a reservation for the second night, my competition was there for lunch the day before. We slid into our seats and study the menu which is only available in english, not sure I buy into that. We start of with a Hot dog laden with sauerkraut. The sausage was excellent, the bun tasty and together with the kraut it almost reminded me of the taste you get from a Silberkugel Original Beefy. The dish might not be your typical appetizer, but it was a good choice and a pretty tasty hot dog. The next dish was just so wrong. It was dubbed as a Casear salad with croutons and anchovies. First major flaw was that the salad wasn’t dried off properly, the whole dish was much too watery and dilluted the flavor. Also the croutons and anchovies were too large plus the little sauce which wasn’t waterlogged was lacking cheese and oomph. The main course was a Wagyu burger with fries. Now if you get the Wagyu burger, you should refrain from any other topping since it’s all about the beef. If you’re more interested in a classic burger go for the cheapest one on the menu and pile on the toppings. I was slightly disappointed with the service, since not only was it a tad chaotic (2nd day) but also I got blue cheese instead of cheddar and only notice after having already eaten half my burger (cheese distribution was uneven). Getting this simple things right goes a long way in terms of customer satisfaction. The chocolate shake was good but 12.50 a put makes me prefer beer. I’m sure the place will do great, they’re turning tables like crazy in there, they’ll need to get service up to speed in the next couple of days and then there isn’t much to complain, except telling the chef to dry and optimise his salad. If you stick to a cheap burger and a beer you’ll get very good value for your money: