Is Zurich a cosmopolitan city? From a food perspective, definitely! Our gourmet tour is proof positive.
1 - A Tickle and an Embrace
«To keep the fire going in my job, I need to continually invent something new,» says Heiko Nieder. This characteristic certainly stands out in the menus created by the «Gault Millau Chef of the Year 2019». Instead of taking the traditional path, he prefers to surprise – with a special appreciation for flavours, textures and temperatures. The chef of The Restaurant at the Dolder Grand Hotel does not use the juice of a cocoa fruit, which comes with a tinge of lychee, only for desserts; instead, he adds it to red curry, coconut and dill to accompany a fried Dublin Bay prawn from South Africa.
This is a meal served only on very rare occasions: delicate yet powerful, mildly sweet, but pointedly spicy. Spice, of course, is a regular addition to Heiko Nieder’s creations. Because it bridges the gap between flavours of light fruit and substantial taste. However, the master is capable of being very gentle with a touch of the classical. The best example is his candied arctic char cooked in chamomile rape-oil stock, topped off with bright yellow char roe. This classic dish has been a staple of Nieder’s repertoire for many years. With so much art on the plate, one might just forget to look out of the window and enjoy the breathtaking view of Lake Zurich.
3 - Fortune Favours the Brave
Does Stefan Heilemann cook even better now that he and his team work in the open kitchen at the Widder Restaurant? Regardless, the «Gault Millau Newcomer of the Year 2020» radiates creativity. He serves dishes one might not expect in a fine-dining establishment. For instance, wonderfully crisp pig’s ears with a Thai cucumber salad, or carabineros of sensational quality and size halved lengthwise, with toasted garlic bread. Next to courage and stylistic confidence, the combination of Thai cuisine with classical French kitchen are typical for Heilemann. King prawns, for instance, come in a frothy and spicy sauce with yellow curry, young carrots and Kaffir lime, while cucumber and yuzu provide a refreshing contrast to the tuna version with sautéed belly, back and heart.
However, the chef with two Michelin stars and 18 «Gault Millau» points is also well acquainted with Nordic and Mediterranean flavours. For instance, he combines gambas blancas with a gazpacho made with dill and lettuce, or he refines Wagyu short ribs simmered for 48 hours with fennel, chorizo and dugga, a nutty spice mix known in Arab countries. Pastry chef André Siedl’s cocoa mousse flavoured with pandan and served with apricot sorbet, marinated apricots, ginger sablé and candied ginger is equally as diverse and thought-through as are the hearty dishes. A typical Siedl dessert is refreshing, and, for all his fondness for experimentation, always extremely harmonious.
Words Alex Kuehn
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