Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Veggie, Meat, and Fantasy

Two great culinary experiences in Zurich recently for me: very different, but equally loved and recommended.

Hiltl (vegetarian) - I often passed by on my way to the gym, but it took me a year to finally go...I had the Casimir, a rice dish with quorn, mango, fruits, and a bit of saffron in the sauce. Everyone in our group loved it: others had the risotto with mushrooms, the papaya salad, and the Indian black curry - all good. I thought the presentation of the food was excellent too.

La Cote (meat, Kreis 3) - As a meat fan, I loved this place. I had their (in)famous Cafe de Paris entrecote, the way I like it - as rare as possible, or "bloody" as the waiter said with a smile. You can also eat charbonnade. We all shared a couple of desserts and they were nothing special, but then again, I was in "meat heaven", so nothing to complain...

A Taste of... - Zurich Lunch Adventures

In the past few months, I have been organizing lunch events with several friends in Zurich. Usually, I pick  a different place every time, reflective of a different cuisine, mostly on Fridays, but occasionally on other days. The reason is that, generally, Fridays are a bit more laid back in the office, for everyone.

Here are some of the places visited (with the links), and some comments/ recommendations.

A Taste of Jamaica
Cozy take away place with a couple of tables, it is awesome: nice owners/workers, cheap, and delicious food. Highly recommended. But plan on taking a nap afterwards, I had to have 2 teas to be able to get back to work and stay awake!

A Taste of Sri Lanka (or India?)
Nimmi Restaurant & Take Away
I liked it. It was a big portion, it was tasty, and it was cheap. The shrimp curry was a bit on the spicy side for me, but totally edible - I am not a big fan of spicy (as in "hot", not "spices"). I was satisfied with the price/quality ratio.

A Taste of Vietnam
I had the pho with beef and really liked it, even on such a hot day. I have been back for dinner and had the pho with fish, even better. Their lotus tea is nothing to write home about, just tastes like regular tea to me (but what do I know?)

A Taste of Vietnam - Part 2
Roasted Duck with Rice costs 17 francs at lunchtime. Definitely recommend the place.

A taste of Asia
Teoh Asian Restaurant
Loved the food, loved the company. I had noodles and chicken with veggies and mushrooms. Definitely going back for more. I also had dinner there with some friends, we had a special pork dish - food is super tasty, but I thought they could do with a bit bigger portions.

A Taste of Italy
This is my favorite Italian restaurant in Zurich, and I keep going back, over and over again. We stumbled upon this place with my colleagues a while back, and it was love at first sight. They have a very good menu special for lunch - 20/22 CHF including salad, main course (usually have 4-5 choices available with the menu deal), coffee, and drink. For Zurich, I think it's a very good deal. Their cuisine is "creative Italian" I would say, combining different tastes of the Italian traditional cuisine in new ways (like the outstanding pasta with eggplant and mint tomato sauce, yum!). The people who work there are awesome too. The fact that I could have eaten the same/similar dishes in my dad's kitchen, with the same friendly atmosphere, just made me feel at home.  I had the pasta with vegetable and black olives tomato sauce, a coke, a salad with bread and an espresso, and the bill came out to CHF 20. Delicious and cheap. Highly recommended.

A Taste of Bavaria
Great, great food and fun group!
No beer for me this time, but the bratwurst, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut I ate lated until the following day!
A Taste of the USA
Helvti Diner
Talk about disappointed hopes...My dreams come true...a diner in Zurich! The place was quite full, but we had a reservation, and squeezing in a bit, we were fine.
Forgivable sin: my dark-chocolate milkshake was a bit liquid (definitely less thick than a "North American style" milkshake), but nonetheless it was very tasty and I liked it.
Unforgivable sin: I like my meat as rare as possible, and I asked for a burger accordingly. I got a very well done burger instead and someone else got my burger probably. Now, ok that we were a big group, but if you are serious and you take the trouble of asking the clients how well done they want their meat cooked, well, keep track and don't scr** it up! It might be an honest mistake, but I am sorry to say that it kind of spoiled my meal a bit. Ok, I am not sorry to say - for that price, don't scr** it up!
My conclusion is: I should have listened to my gut feeling and gone with a Dr Pepper and a pastrami sandwitch instead. If I happen to be there again, I will try this option. However, I definitely won't go out of my way to go back to this restaurant!
P.S. FYI, I had a much tastier burger at the Oliver Twist pub in the Niederdorf, for a fraction of the price.

A Taste of Switzerland
I had a great, great lunch, and the best fondue I've had in a looooong time. Heartily recomment the place. Power nap needed, good thing I had a black tea throughout!

A Taste of Greece
Great company, great food, the place is really cute and looks/feels like eating in a friend's dining room. I had the aubergine saganaki (eggplant and various other veggies with feta cheese and tomato sauce) and really, really enjoyed it. Water, salad, main course, and bread a-plenty for CHF 16.
Next planned event is A taste of the Langstrasse (and currywurst) at Körry. Currywurst is a typical Berlin treat, and I have been to the place already, but it's always worth going back.  
Is it fatty? YES
Is the place a "hole in the wall"? YES
Is it absolutely delicious for all currywurst and pommes lovers? YES, YES, YES!