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.
It was freezing and we headed for Dinner at Morgenstern da Mario. This is a typical restaurant with a host with a larger than life personality. The stairs to the washroom is filled with pictures of (assumed) Mario and an incredible variety of celebrities (or at least very important people with their own facebook page). We start with a large selection of warm and cold antipasti including homemade burata and seafood. The quality was nice, the selection was well thought out, certainly not of the plain old open a can variety and it was a generous serving. I can understand why people come here, this was a nice way to ease into the dinner. My pasta dish were some Orechiette with a hearty ragu, nothing to complain, except that maybe I should have ordered a larger portion. I greatly enjoy Baccala (salted cod) and they had a dish on the menu. I like the flavour which develops from the rehydrated fish and this here was no exception. I’m also happy when slightly unusual courses are available. While Mario’s charm can be hard to bear, the food is great and the prices pretty decent:
I am posessed by a daemon, the daemon of being the first to publish about a new restaurant. This time it’s the Times restaurant on Gasometerstrasse, next to Maison Blunt in the Kreis 5. Normally I’d post a link, but it seems that the place does without internet. Quite some rumours have been flying around this former garage, one quoting the rent being as high as 20’000 CHF. I was rather curious to see what this establishment was going to be about. The garage looks pretty sleek, even though there’s a store or something at the front, I like the mix of wood and industrial chic which give it a good feel. I sit down and after some thinking decide on the tasting menu, which I order without cheese and dessert, simply the savoury dishes. The amuse bouche is a piece of salmon in a potato soup with freshly grated horseradish. While it wasn’t bad, it did show two recurring topics. The acid was too strong and the salmon overpowering, you couldn’t taste much of the horseradish. The brioche on the duck liver was superb, seldomly have I seen a better piece, no complaints on the liver but I would have left out the chinese (?) plum schnaps that was served as a chaser. Originally a “beef-tea” was on the menu, but I was advised (before I ordered) that it had been replaced. The chef comes out and serves a slipper lobster (Bärenkrebs) with a tomato essence. The amuse bouche repeats itself, the acidity of the tomato essence was simply overpowering and it stole the show from the otherwise nice piece of seafood. Moving on to the lasagne aperto (which I assume translates to open-faced) was on the timid side and what some of the other dishes had too much this one was lacking in oomph. You’d be expecting umami, lovely cheese which mixes with the sauce bechamel, strong beef and some distinct pasta flavour, here it was more a whisper in the wind. The lobster claws were served on a bean cassoulet, the beans weren’t cooked enough and the pairing with the sweetness of the lobster was weird. My main course was a beef filet on a parsley mash, black truffle sauce and celeriac sticks. Nothing to complain on the filet, it was wrapped in a slice of bacon which added to the dish, the celeriac sticks were slightly weird, since they were covered in a breading and fried, almost reminiscent of a fish stick. What did I make of the dinner here ? Not much. The staff was very friendly (they even offered me a glass of wine) and the service up to decent standards, but the food was clumsy. It reminded me of tales I had heard of bad strip clubs. Just because your name is Candy and you have a tattoo on your butt, doesn’t make you a seducing male entertainment professional. There were a lot of the right elements, but they failed to come together, failed to be properly balanced, mainly in flavour and acidity. Prices are on the upper end and I guess are testament to the gentrification of the area:[/caption
Sometimes I almost feel sorry that I visit restaurants in my capacity as a food critic, simply for the fact that they’re so bad. Finding points to rant about is like trout fishing with handgrenades (a day in my army career I’ll never forget). I’ve been to the restaurant Popcorn near the Goldbrunnenplatz once before and was disappointed. The place was re-decorated and a sign was posted which called out the fact that they were relaunching the restaurant. Not being resentful I was looking forward to great improvements. The place sports a distinct Americana theme and the small menu partially resembles that. The waitress tells me that they have a special of the day veal cutlets with marsala sauce and saffron risotto. I order a small Caesar salad as a starter. The salad made me chuckle, Romaine lettuce, large slices of parmesan, tomatoes and pre-fabricated, bottled french dressing. Really?! No croutons, no bacon, no sauce which at least resembles a typical Caesar salad dressing a little bit ? Things unexpectedly went downhill from there. The veal cutlets were tough and chewy, the marsala sauce indifferent and the risotto horrible. It literally tasted like one of those processed risottos from a box and reeked of white wine which wasn’t cooked off properly. The funniest thing of the evening was a german travelling salesmen sitting next to me who praised the chef about the high quality of the food. Either he was a notorious liar or the poor guy’s wife learned to cook in a paint factory. Even though the place was cheap, it wasn’t worth the money:
I’m not sure you’ve ever been at the Cafe Marabu. Right next to the Werd Verwaltungszentrum this small cafe has been there for years. The most notable thing is that it closes at two in the afternoon every day. Two guys (Yves and Kaspar) decided to have a chat with Monsieur Ibrahim the man running the show and convinced him to let them use the place for a dinner event. I’m assuming this was one of the first pop-up restaurant events in Zurich. So an ecclectic mix of Zurich’s cool & handsome scene show up (yes that includes me) to a set menu dinner, all revolving around Zürcher Geschnetzltes. A regional winemaker (Rütihof, Stäfa) is present as well and I like the idea of going up to his table and tasting the wines before you order a bottle, a nice touch to the whole evening. The first course was a lamb’s lettuce salad with croutons and bacon. Now the croutons weren’t uniformly crunchy and the bacon wasn’t cooked a la minute, but at least the salad sauce was pretty good and I was willing to chalk down the lack of finesse on the salad garnishments to being prepared for the rush. The Geschnetzeltes was pretty good, I liked that you had the option of getting it with kidneys, which is the traditional mix. The kidneys were expertly prepared, just like the rest of the meat which was still tender and moist. The sauce tasted nicely of white wine, cream and shallots, but the binding wasn’t quite there, I would have enjoyed a more homogenous appearance of the sauce. The roeschti had a nice balance of potato taste, butter and salt, but was lacking a bit of crunch. The chef was devastated and apologized, so this was obviously an oversight and not something which had been planned. The event was fun, well thought out and if the food get’s a bit of tweaking, this could be very successfull moving forward. The dinner took me back to old times, since later int he night findoor smoking was allowed. And let’s face it a real swiss Beiz cooks a mean rösti and the men at the Stammtisch discuss politics over a Villiger Kiel or Parisienne Mild. The essence of swiss dining was captured in a single night and that says a lot to the care and dedication of the organizers. Hoping to see more pop-up events in Zurich’s dining scene.
I really like Peking Duck, so I was doing some research where in Zurich the best one is. Of course you can run off to Ly’s Asia and pay a whopping 225 CHF (for 2), but since my last visit showed a lack of substance and an overinflated pricelevel I decided to look elsewhere. My research led to the Dragon Inn in Wollishofen ending up on top of my list, simply for the fact that I’ve never been there. I call ahead to make reservations two days in advance to ensure that they’d have a duck ready once we got there. It was a Thursday night and we were the only ones at approximately 19:00 in the restaurant. The interior is a bit dated (not sure it’s adaquate to call it patina yet) but aligned with most somewhat older chinese places in Switzerland. We ordered some beers to go with the duck and shortly after we settle in the chef appears smiling and slices the skind off the duck tableside. The individual pieces are then draped on a plate with an elaborate ice swan sculpture. While this might not add to the taste it does look fancy. The duck was impeccable, but not outstanding, all the components from the pancakes to the cucumber slivers were there and gave no reason to bicker. Next up was a rather average duck soup, I could have done without. You get to order the meat in two ways and it comes with your choice of white or fried rice. I like that the wings and drumsticks were also served together with each of the preparations, which – shame on me – I’ve forgotten what they were. But that does testament one thing that they were neither horrible nor memorable. A sorbet closed out the dinner. Overall money for value is okay, the duck is good but it’s nothing which is going to rock your boat, hence my quest for the best Peking duck in Zurich will continue. Prices: