Living in Zurich, how often do you go strolling at Niederdorf? How many times have you taken visitors there? Do you ever feel that you have seen it all and felt you had enough of this touristy and cliché spot?
Confess it. You end up there frequently enough. And every time your body calls for a meal there, you wish there would be a good restaurant that is not full of tourists. In fact, you wish there would be a restaurant that is unknown to tourists; that is only for in-the-knows; that is exclusive; that serves delicious and creative food; that is authentically charming; and that is special.
Well, there is one. But to keep it only for in-the-knows, can you promise not to tell?
It is at Froschaugasse, a small alley just off the Niederdorf in the old town of Zurich. You would be surprised when you arrive, because you will realize that you have passed it a hundred times without thinking of entering. It looks tiny from the front and seems more like a private venue, or a bakery kiosk, or a gallery, or a wine bar, or whatever, but not a kind of restaurant you wish for. But as soon as you step inside you would know this is it!
As soon as ZuriGirl sat down, a knowledgeable-and-well-experienced-looking waiter arrived and gently said; “We don’t have a menu here at this restaurant. Each day we cook something different. Today we have a 4-course menu. That’s all we have. But you can also choose only the dishes you would like without taking the full course.” He did not tell the price of the course, and his gesture suggested that we should not bother. Okay! We love politely snobbish introduction like that!
On that day the course was foamed carrot and ginger soup with citrus infusion and prawn, tagliolini with sumptuous portion of truffles on top, main dishes were tender lamb or veal served pink with ratatouille, chanterelle, and amazing velvety celery puree. The desserts were crème brûlée or chocolate cake. Every dish, in fact every bite of every dish including condiments and garnishes, was divine. It was light but wholesome, delicate but intense, mild but powerful. The culinary there is more in the direction of nouvelle French gastronomy, but somehow gives a sense of home-cook meal. Perfect for those who love little bites of degustation but hate poshy, pretentious flair.
Since there is no menu and dishes change every day, there is no printed price list for the degustation menu or individual dishes. However, we ended up approximately CHF 100 per person for 2-3 dishes and 2 glasses of wine.
The restaurant name already suggests it. Wystube Isebähnli has a big wine list, many of which the connoisseurs would go for. However, they do not trick you to go for expensive wines despite the absence of a price list. Being tempted by a handsome bottle of port wine on a cart, ZuriGirl asked for a glass. The waiter informed with politeness without putting his guest to embarrassment that; a tiny glass from that bottle would cost CHF 60 and left a choice to us. Thanks!
Cozy, cozy, and very cozy. An ambience makes you feel as if you are transported back a hundred years to an upscale homey family-run eatery. There are probably 6-8 tables, though some are long ones with wooden benches which two parties can share. The wall is padded with dark wood from floor to ceiling and decorated with old picture frames and antiques. An open kitchen is part of the hall in the back, proudly showing how amazing dishes are created without a hidden agenda.
Why We Love It:
How could you not love a restaurant that has no menu? How could you not love a restaurant that is proud enough to introduce itself on Facebook as ‘best restaurant ever in Zurich?’ How could you not love a restaurant that makes you feel that you are now one of those in-the-know?
And don’t forget, you already promised not to tell.
Zuri Girl Tips:
Reservation is a must as seats are limited. And the restaurant opens only for dinner.
Get a table near the open pantry if you want a somewhat chef table show.
Froschaugasse 26, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Phone 043 243 77 87
Facebook: Restaurant Wystube Isebähnli
Original publication can be read here: Girlfriend Guide to Zurich