Picking up from where I left in my last post about my vacation…after Chamonix Mont Blanc we continued on to Zermatt and stayed at Le Petit Hotel which justifies its name by having really tiny rooms, overall it was clean and quiet but if you are coming for your yearly vacation and want a really nice hotel this one is not it.
In Zermatt itself I do recommend visiting the Italian GramPi’s on 70 Bahnhofstrasse where both pasta and pizza were quite good. The real gems though are the various mountain restaurants you can visit either while skiing or hiking in the mountains. They serve traditional simple foods, concentrating on fresh local ingredients and all this is washed by beer and some more beer. Here is a photograph of a restaurant we absolutely loved, Chalet Ried Restaurant, it is located on the trail going up to Sunnegga and is really close to Zermatt so you can either go there from the town itself for the sake of enjoying a lunch with a view or to actually go up to Sunnegga and on your way down have a well deserved meal. The owners are very nice people and the restaurant is open all day long until 9 pm (in the summer).
Another one is located in Z’mutt (a very nice hike to get up there with constant views of the Matterhorn) and is also good, it is actually called Restaurant Z’mutt (there are a couple more restaurants in that tiny old village).
So keep looking for the mountain restaurants because they have the best views, the best prices, the best food and you will have the best appetite whether you are hiking, biking or skiing.
Baumann Cafe Oberland on 49 Gotthardstrasse, a lovely bakery and cafe in the also lovely town of Andermatt. Good coffee and a mouth watering selection of pastries with loads of seasonal fruits. We did not have any food but what I saw on other people’s tables looked appetizing to say the least.
Interlaken and Iseltwald
In the Interlaken area we actually stayed at the Hotel Bellevue Iseltwald (it is in Iseltwald, not in Interlaken), the hotel itself is nice and clean with all rooms overlooking the beautiful lake, it is very simple and basic inside with no luxuries but its location and lake view compensate for that. While staying at this hotel we visited Bern and Lucerne, we hiked in the Jungfrau region hiking up to Klein Scheidegg where we enjoyed rosti, sauerkraut and sausages from the outdoor stand.
In Interlaken itself I was happy we found Restaurant Baren on 2 Seestrasse, Interlaken is quite the touristy town and many places give up on quality. This place was not an outstanding restaurant worth telling long stories about but it is was quite good and provided an authentic local meal.
An outstanding meal in the area came again from a restaurant mentioned in the Relais and Chateaux guide and is located on lake Lucerne. We visited the Restaurant Sparks in Park Hotel Weggis (one of the three restaurants in this lovely hotel). The shady terrace overlooking the lake was beautiful, service professional and the food delicious – I really enjoyed the seared steak tartar and the Pike-Perch as well as the multi component dessert.
One more restaurant on a lake side was quite different, it is located on lake Blausee and is adjacent to a trout farm and is celebrating it on its menu. It costs 5 euro to actually “enter” the lake area but here is a tip – its free after 5pm and in the summer it is not a problem to come after hours without missing a thing. The lake is tiny and full of trout, the views around it are beautiful and the restaurant had good food and lovely atmosphere. I had a plate of various cold preparations such as smoked trout, smoked trout mousse, trout tartar etc and really enjoyed it; I obviously tasted everyone else’s food and both the beer batter fried trout fillets, the oven backed whole trout as well as the smoked trout ravioli were all delicious. Desserts were quite good but very large so be ware.
Ascona is beautiful but unfortunately when we were there the weather left a lot to be desired and we saw very little of this lake side town, but we did have lunch at one of the strangest restaurants I have even been to. The restaurant is located in one of the small alleys very close to the lake, to be more exact on via S. Omobono, the name is Grotto Baldoria. There is no menu and you eat whatever the cook makes in the kitchen, the seating is outside and is very basic with picnic tables and a fiberglass roof to prevent you from getting soaking wet when it rains. The meal begins with some bread, a board with cured meats (salami etc) that you get with a knife and cut some for yourself and the board goes onto the next table, a delicious salad followed, then the main course brought out in the pot or skillet it was cooked in and is divided between the diners whether its only your table or maybe a few tables depending on occupancy, it all follows with a cheese board on a self serve basis, then a cake (crostada) also as self serve and even the Grappa at the end follows the same principal. The main course is simple and good as if you stepped into someone kitchen rather than a restaurant but do not expect anything fancy – we had pasta with tomato sauce and veal a creamy sauce of sort.
Tea room Vanini, right in the center of town on Piazza Riforma , with tables overlooking the city hall, good coffee and cakes. People come to sit and enjoy the sun, enjoy looking at the passing by tourists and locals. Basically to see and be seen as well as enjoy the pastries.
Now on to our final stop – Zurich. You can have a plain traditional hearty meal of sausages or meat (veal in mushroom sauce…) with a side of potatoes of course – your choice between rosti, mashed, potato salad etc at the Zeughauskeller on 28a Bahbhofstrasse, it is touristy but don’t be afraid it is still good. Another option is to have a traditional Spanish dinner sitting at an outdoor table on one of the small streets in old Zurich having tapas made daily. The place is called Bodega Espanola and is located on 15 Munstergasse, we had some Sangria and some Rioja, olives, tiny sausages, sauteed rabbit, anchovies in olive oil, squid and a few other small plates we chose from the selection available on display inside the restaurant; they also have a menu for some main courses but we did not bother with those.
Now we do breakfast and weekend brunch in two separate but geographically close places. The breakfast spot goes to Felix Cafe am Bellevue on 5 Bellevueplatz with a view on the lake where cakes, pastries and chocolates are abundant; indoor as well as outdoor sitting is available. The brunch spot goes to the garden in the Terrasse restaurant on 3 Limmatquai where it is busy on the weekend, with everybody in their “Sunday best” enjoying jams and pastries, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, fresh orange juice, white wine and some (like me) lemon risotto with shrimp.
A must visit, though not exactly an innovation, is the huge Sprungli store on 21 Bahnhofstrasse, you can get a table and enjoy the pastries, little sandwiches and coffee and you can go ga-ga buying things to take back home with you loading on chocolates over chocolates but one thing you absolutely cannot go out the door without is the Luxemburgerli (macarons) – every color, every flavor, pink and gold, sweet and tart, they are tiny and delicious and if you are flying home from Zurich they have a special package which will allow you to get them home safely and devour them within a day or two because their shelf life is 3 days top. I like the fruit flavors best.
While in Zurich we stayed at the Sheraton Neues Schloss, its nice and spacious, has good service and a central location.
One other place in Switzerland I would like to recommend for lunch or take out is the Kauffmann Metzgerei with quite a few locations in Bern, Zurich, Thun, Basel and a few more (you can see a list if you click on “Aktuelles” on the website); it is a deli with sandwiches, a large selection of prepared food that could be heated for you if you like (sausages, potatoes, rotisserie) as well as a large selection of raw meats you can buy if you have a kitchen in your hotel room. They also have beer and other bottled drinks :)