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Mar 8, 2011 02:08 PM

Need Restaurant Advice for Zurich

We will be in Zurich for two nights at the end of March. Thinking of dining one night at a traditional Swiss place and the other at a slightly more upscale restaurant. I've been doing a bit of research, but there don't seem to be many Zurich Chowhounds out there; I'm hoping some will emerge from the woodwork. So here goes...

Traditional Swiss: thinking of Zeughaus, Kropf, or Zur Oepfelchammer

Other: thinking of Didi's Frieden, Stef's Freieck, La Salle, or Barengasse

Views on any of the above would be greatly appreciated, as would be recommendations for any others that I have missed. Strong opinions welcome, as always. Thanks much in advance.

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  1. I'm not much of an expert on Zurich, having spent limited time there, but we did have dinner at Zeughaus. I was underwhelmed. We were not looking for upscale -- we had spent a long day touring on foot, in and out of the rain, with our kids, and wanted traditional local food. The food was nothing special, and Zeughaus, to me, lacked the gemuetlichkeit - the sense of friendliness and authenticity - that I have felt in similar places in Germany or Austria. Next time, I would try to find traditional cuisine in a more residential, out-of-the-way neighborhood, and maybe experience that feeling of authenticity. We did have a great time in the art museum, and I tried hard to find the wurst stand near the tram station along the lake that I had heard about, but to no avail. I might try harder at that, next time.

    1. Opfelchammer does not serve traditional Swiss - it has a modern twist. Kropf is quite traditional, and more formal than Zeughauskeller. Zeughauskeller is a huge, loud, cafeteria-style kind of restaurant with massive plates of food and brusk service. If anything, go for lunch but not dinner. Kropf on the other hand is a lovely restaurant, serving the classics in a relaxed yet refined atmosphere.

      Opfelchammer in the tavern for drinks, however, is great. Oldest tavern in Zurich.

      For your other meal, are you interested in excellent upscale Italian? Zurich has some of the finest Italian restaurants outside of Italy, due to the enormous Italian population and proximity to Italy. I recommend Conti.

      You should have a pizza while you're in Zurich. I like Il Golosone or Santa Lucia.

      Freieck is okay, not great - it's Austrian cuisine. Didi's Frieden is very good. Reserve plenty of time in advance.

      I also recommend Caduff's Wine Loft - creative cooking, fantastic wine cellar where you are invited in to choose your bottle(s) for the evening, it's a lovely space with a superb and large cheese selection. Service is delightful.

      If you want excellent fondue, go to Le Dezaley.

      Zurich is also filled with excellent wine bars. I like Barrique, in the old city.

      The finest restaurant in Zurich is Spice Rigiblick. Blindingly expensive, fantastic, you have to take a special mountain tram to get there, it's in the city but on the mountain overlooking the city - beautiful view, gorgeous room, widely recognized as the best in Zurich, and one of the best in Europe.

      Do not miss getting a wurst at the Vorderer Sternen Grill - it's an outside thing at the Bellevueplatz, best wurst in the city and great people watching.

      Have a drink at the Storchen Hotel in the middle of the city overlooking the river...very nice. (Also they have a beautiful breakfast, expensive but elegant and very good)

      1 Reply
      1. re: gutsofsteel

        I will second the recommendation for Caduff's Wine Loft -
        I was there in November and really enjoyed the evening - especially going to the cellar and choosing the bottle!

        Ditto for a drink at the Storchen Hotel. Nice experience but even for someone like me who has lived in Switzerland for 20 years I was pretty surprised at the price!

        Have always dreamed of going to the Spice Rigiblick but have never organized myself to do it. Maybe one day....

      2. Also please be sure to have tea (and chcoolates!!!) upstairs at Sprungli at Paradaplatz.

        3 Replies
        1. re: gutsofsteel

          Many thanks for all the ideas. definitely will go to Sprungli and the wurst stand sounds perfect for a quick lunch. I think we'll call an audible on DF vs Caduff vs Conti depending upon what we're hungry for after a week of eating in Lech. Feedback on Zeughaus and Kropf was perfect - Kropf it will be. In terms of drinks before dinner, I appreciate the Storchen reccomendation, particularly since my parents used to stay there on their annual visits for many years. If you had to choose between a drink at Storchen, Kronenhalle, or the Widder, which would it be?
          Thanks again and I promise to report back in April.

          1. re: fress

            The Vorderer Sternen grill at the Bellevueplatz -- that's the wurst place I had my eye out for. Hopefully next time.

            1. re: fress

              Definitely skip Kronenhalle. I like the Widder bar but there's no "scenery" in fact it's not very Swiss feeling at all and there's nothing much to see, just a good bar. I'd for sure go with the Storchen, it's classic Zurich. Conti is very expensive, just so you know. DF or Caduff....that's a hard one. I like them both a lot. Caduff is unusual in that you get to visit a very eclectic wine cellar and it's an interactive experience. They also have wild game in season, if that's relevant. If I were you I would choose between DF and Caduff and don't do Italian if you only have two nights. So you'd have Kropf one night, and then DF or Caduff the other night - that's great.

              Be sure to spend some time walking about the old city in any case - it's beautiful and really old.

              Also be aware that there are Sprungli shops all over the place - but the tea room is upstairs at the main locatino at Paradeplatz.

          2. Just back from a week in Lech (fantastic) and a couple of days in Zurich. As promised, here's where we ate and drank in preposterously expensive Zurich:

            Excellent bratwurst at Vorderer Sternen grill with delicious crusty roll and clean out your sinuses mustard. Really good and at SF6.80 for a monster brat, a veritable bargain.

            We had dinner at Kropf the first night: a little too heavy for our tastes - the rosti greasy, the steak tartare dull, and the fried perch reminiscent of fish fingers. The leberknoedel soup was good though, and the main room very pretty. But I don't think we would go back...

            Breakfast at Sprungli was very good, particularly the bircher muesli with red fruit. And we bought lots of chocolates and marzipan fruits to bring home, as well as some delicious baumkuchen. Everything looks beautiful here.

            Dinner at Didi's Frieden was excellent, with the highlights being excellent loup de mer with pea risotto, roast lamb with morel risotto, and an amazing veal cordon bleu. I thought the price to quality ratio here was much more attractive than at Kropf - dinner was 300SF for three people including an excellent bottle of German riesling. The restaurant had a nice neighborhood feel that reminded us of Wallse in NYC. And, unlike Kropf, we actually felt that there were people eating here who weren't just bankers socializing after work.

            I foolishly didn't follow gutsofsteel's advice on bars: went to Kronenhalle for sentimental reasons, and, while we loved the interior, the drinks were ridiculously priced - 18 euro each for a warm bloody mary and a warm virgin mary (interesting pricing structure) and 20 euro for a miniscule martini, and not particularly good. We did enjoy the Widder bar - while the drinks were similarly priced, they were more generous and more expertly mixed, and the mixed nuts were more appealing that the mediocre crisps at Kronenhalle. We enjoyed our afternoon visit to the Dolder - the view from the terrace is spectacular, and the new addition would have made us feel like we were in a James Bond movie were it not for the insurance convention.

            All in all, Zurich was lovely to visit, but I'm not sure how anybody, other than bankers and insurance execs, can afford to spend much time there. But if you do go, be sure to go to the Kunsthaus, which has an amazing collection of modern art beautifully displayed in a lightly trafficked building - and offers free admission on Wednesdays! Thanks again to all for your advice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fress

              Great report. Kropf is what it is - traditional Swiss food!! If you ever go back be sure to go to the Storchen and to Caduff's Wine Loft...