A June 2005 trip
to Zurich by Nick Malgieri
Quote: Both work and pleasure travel often bring me to Zurich, where I lived for a year in the early seventies. I know the city well and love to share suggestions about great places to see and dine.
A short trip should always include strolls through the old town on either side of the Limmat beginning with the Niedredorf and Grossmunster areas behind the river's east bank. The quaint medieval areas of Saint Peter's church square; the Lindenhof, Zurich's original Roman settlement; and Schipfe, the old commercial port, are on the west bank.
Bahnhofstrasse offers world-class shopping experiences, and there's always the fabulous Saturday morning flea market at Buerkliplatz for junkique and an occasional bargain jewel. New and used book stores cluster around narrow winding streets near the Grossmunster cathedral.
Eating your way through Zurich can be a fun experience, if only for a day. Start out with coffee and Gipfeli, the Swiss version of croissants, if breakfast is not provided by your hotel. If you need a mid-morning snack, you'll find any number of cafes and pastry shops that also incorporate tea rooms, among them the famous and elegant Spruengli at Paradeplatz, the center of the city. If a light lunch is in order, you'll easily find it at any number of little restaurants that dot the east bank of the Limmat, especially if you just want a slice of cheese tart and a salad or other light fare. More substantial food is also available at many of them. For a traditional Swiss dinner, two of my favorites are the Zeughouskeller, converted from an old arsenal, right at the east side of Paradeplatz, or Bierhalle Kropf, with its incredible nineteenth century painted ceilings and murals, in the heart of the west bank old town.
Squeeze in a visit to a museum or a leisurely stroll along the lake shore between meals, and you'll have an experience you'll remember for a lifetime.
You'll also find handy documentation on movie listings, oper and theater offerings, and museums and other cultural activities there.
If you're in the mood for a lake or river excursion, this can also be arranged throught the tourist office. Lake boats leave from Buerkliplatz at the head of the lake, and short-term river cruises may be picked up at any one of numerous locations along the riverbank.
Since it was impossible to incorporate a kitchen of any kind in the studio building, the restaurant came into being a couple of years later.
As the name indicates, there are soups from all over the world. During the winter the menu sports an international selection of soups, both light and substantial, and stews. In summer, the menu shifts a little, and there are still plenty of soups, but on the lighter side. I had a trio of interesting choices as a first course: a sweet and creamy puree of carrots, a rich beef and red pepper soup, and a light wheat berry broth with fresh herbs. My host enjoyed a Thai lemongrass and coconut soup. As a main course, I had a tabbouleh salad with warm grilled shrimp and parsley-milt oil, while my host enjoyed a perfect Champagne risotto scented with lemon and grilled radicchio. We tasted a few of the desserts, among them a panna cotta with a compote of tart apples, a strawberry mousse with mint and balsamic vinegar, and a moist, single-layer chocolate cake with wonderful whipped cream. The menu runs the gamut from vitello tonnato through some pasta dishes mixed in with the soups, to veal in broth with vegetables and green sauce. There is a good selection of wines including some great Swiss ones as well as offerings from all over Europe. I was impressed by the selection of ten different teas, black, green, and herbal combinations.
Zuppamundial is open for both lunch and dinner and a two course lunch menu with salad, substantial soup and a mineral water is only about $15. Open only on weekdays from 11am to midnight, Zuppamundial also offers takeout service.
Phone from the US: 011 4143 818 2391
Fax from the US: 011 4143 818 2392
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 27, 2005
043 818 2391
Seasonal specialties abound, along with the traditional assortment of pastries and cakes; in summer, you’ll find blueberry crumb cakes, and in the fall and winter, vermicelles, those squiggly strands of chestnut puree served with broken meringues and whipped cream. Do not under any circumstances miss the hot chocolate – made with Swiss Suchard chocolate and topped with whipped cream that comes from the café’s own herd. It doesn’t have to be cold out to enjoy it -- I wonder how many gallons a day they serve.
Telephone from the US: 011 411 251 8060
Fax from the US: 011 411 251 8091
Zurich, Switzerland CH-8001
(01) 251 80 60
Restaurant | "Kronenhalle"
But, of course, the Kronenhalle is not all atmosphere and paintings. Kitchen chef Peter Schaerer makes sure the food is equally up to par. The food ranges from the simple to the elaborate – I was shocked the first time I had dinner at the Kronenhalle to see that bratwurst (veal sausage) and roesti were on the menu. My friend Anita, with whom I always go there, explained that many of the regulars eat out in fancy restaurants all the time and need a break from it once in a while. Don’t think that all the food is simple and earthy, though. Every day, there are specials on the elegant silver cart that circles the dining room, or you can have a house specialty, Robespierre, a rare fillet of beef sliced thinly and arranged on a hot plate, with a luscious sauce poured over all. Those roesti are always available and make a great accompaniment to many of the meat and fish dishes. Excellent local and Mediterranean fish are also always available.
Of course, the Kronenhalle is a paradise for lovers of Swiss wines, and excellent French and Italian wines are also not neglected. I always like to start out an evening at the Kronenhalle with a visit to the bar to unwind. Prize-winning bartender Peter Roth presides over the elegant bar designed by Robert Haussmann, with exquisite lamps and fixtures made by Swiss artists Diego and Alberto Giacometti. Have your regular favorite cocktail, or let Peter propose one of his inventions. Peter’s associate, Hildegard Muellner, also adds a welcoming warmth to the bar. I have to confess that I don’t ever do it except at the Kronenhalle, but I usually also end the evening with a brandy or liqueur at the bar after dinner. In fact, I would sleep at the Kronenhalle if they let me!
By the way, do call a few days in advance for a reservation, as you can’t just walk right in and be assured of a table.
Phone from the US: 011 411 251 6669
Fax from the US: 011 411 251 6681
Restaurant | "Kaiser's Reblaube/Goethe Stuebli"
The mid-winter meal I had started with three little post of spreads to play with while waiting for the first course – they were made from duck liver, black olives and celery root respectively. The first course was a parsnip soup with oatmeal and a garnish of shredded salty-sweet cured ham from Willsau near Lucerne. Next, a ragout of diced calf’s foot with Jerusalem artichokes and black truffles – I almost swooned this was so good. The main course was a rack of baby lamb with polenta and a herb salad that included dill, tarragon, celery leaves and mache, called nuessli in Swiss German. Dessert was a slice of barely cooked beet, providing an earthy counterpoint to a compote of preserved sour cherries, a sour cream ice cream and scoop of a quite bitter chocolate mousse, perfectly echoing the earthiness of the beet. I think I’ll have to go back to see what Brunner is concoting in each season. I love this type of approach to food -- it stretches the boundaries and comes up with a surprising touch that makes perfect flavor sense in each dish, without making them bizarre for the sake of bizarre.
Kaiser’s Reblaube/Goethe Stuebli
Telephone from the US: 011 411 221 2120
Fax from the US: 011 411 221 2155
Kaiser's Reblaube / Goethe Stuebli
+41 01 221 2120
Bierhalle Kropf is in the old town on the West bank of the Limmat, not far from the St. Peter church and the Fraumunster. In fact, it’s just steps from Paradeplatz, the traditional center of the city. The building, called Kropf, or "bulge," has existed since the middle of the 15th century, way before the restaurant came to be. The present restaurant dates from the last quarter of the 19th century and has gloriously painted walls and ceilings to prove it. Mostly tiny angels holding great steaming platters of food and overflowing beer steins, the ceilings and murals evoke a time when going out for a plate of boiled beef was a big occasion. I understand perfectly, since I am always happy when I’m in Zurich, staying at my favorite hotel, the Storchen, that’s just around the corner and eating lunch at Kropf. And the best thing is that you are midway between Sprungli truffles at Paradeplatz if you turn right out the door, or Teuscher truffles – turn left and keep going after the Italian restaurant and the jewelry store to the corner if you crave something sweet after lunch.
Restaurant Bierhalle Kropf
In Gassen 16
Telephone from the US: 011 411 221 1805
Fax from the US: 011 411 212 3754
Closed Sundays and holidays.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 27, 2005
In Gassen 16
01 221 1805
New York, New York