My more successful blog posts are the ones on food. This Brussels Restaurants – Edition 2022 was picked up largely. I planned a similar one on my favourite European ones. But then my husband Filip planned the summer holidays in Switzerland and Italy, and I suddenly had the challenge of limiting a European Restaurants post to only five. So, I decided to do a special edition on just this summer trip.
Filip hates to go for last-minute reservations. And he is right; the better restaurants are often fully booked. This free Michelin app proved to be a good guide. I advise you to book in advance and to plan your restaurant visits as carefully as your actual trip.
The Japanese by the Chedi, Gütsch
The Chedi is a lovely hotel in Andermath. Very expensive during the winter ski season but affordable during the summer low season. The hotel has a Swiss-Asian touch. Anything from Switzerland is matched by something similar from Asia. You can have a cocktail the Swiss version or the Asian version. And in your room, tables are low, or chabudai as they call them in Japan.
Upon arrival, we had lunch in The Japanese, which is not in the hotel itself, but in a chalet in the mountains. You must take the cable car Andermath – Gütsch, which is a lovely experience. Although we were amidst the heatwave, the temperature fell considerably, and to lunch outside, a fleece was more than welcome.
We opted for the Shidashi Bento, which gave a very good impression of the the kitchen has to offer. Sushi, sashimi, dashi, tempura, … Just delicious. We had planned to go for wine, but the maître pushed us to go for sake. Before choosing a glass of sake, he offered a tasting. Not going for the traditional wines became recurrent on this trip.
7132 Silver, Vals
Ever since we moved to Switzerland, enjoying the 7132 Vals Therme was on our bucket list. This Zumthor architecture is a must-see. We combined the wellness with a hotel stay and by coincidence the hotel has a very nice two-star Michelin restaurant. That’s how everything falls in place during the holidays.
These simple ingredients turned into excellent dishes. Was flabbergasted by a simple “céleri rave I betterave rouge I poivre noir”. Two Michelin star restaurants often opt for simple ingredients but bring them back in their purest form, letting you rediscover the actual taste of a product.
Very original was their drinks pairing. The option was alcoholic or non-alcoholic, but choosing alcoholic didn’t mean you got wine. It was a mix of wines but also, in the restaurant, brewed new drinks. Daring. To be honest, we were a bit confused, but definitely open.
Filip & Jean Philip
Vals signifie la tranquillité, ici vous pouvez échapper de la vie quotidienne. Nous voulons refléter la sérénité de Vals dans notre restaurant, non seulement dans nos mets mais aussi personellement à votre table. Ainsi, nous utilisons de nombreux produits provenant de paysans directement de notre village. Lorsque la nature le permet, nous sortons nous-mêmes pour ceuillir des herbes, des baies ou des champignons dans ce paysage spectaculaire. Toutefois, nous restons ouverts aux nouvelles idées et sommes inspires par les produits du monde entire. Détendez-vous et nous vous guiderons à travers notre menu.
Harry’s Piccolo, Trieste
We had never been to Trieste before, but heading from Corvara in Badia to Venice, we made a detour via Trieste. It’s a beautiful city. Not too touristic and interesting if you want to dig into the history of the Habsburgers.
The Grand Hotel Duche d’Aosta is located at the majestic Piazza Unita d’Italia. Harry’s Bar is a nice place to go for apero and to be seen. But it also houses Harry’s Piccolo restaurant. Not sure what the ‘piccolo’ stands for in this exquisite restaurant.
One of their menus, ‘Interactions’ is created by both executive chefs Matteo Metullio and Davide De Pra and presented as both chefs flirting with one another. There are a lot of egos in the restaurant world, so I’m totally in favour of more flirting in that world.
Talking to chef Matteo afterwards we said that Glam in Venice would be the next stop.
So Matteo must have rung Glam because when we arrived there, the glass of champagne was on the house, because they were advised by Matteo to treat these two gentlemen well. And they did. The menu grew XXL as we go plenty of additional dishes served to try. Complimentary.
The restaurant is situated in Palazzo Venart and was created by Enrico Bartolini, who has a series of restaurants. We were welcomed by the resident chef Donato Ascani, who takes care of Bartolini’s legacy excellently. A rising star himself, for sure.
The restaurant only has six tables, so we were twelve people in the room, looking on an inside garden of the hotel. The place is clearly appreciated by foodies. There were Australians, Chinese and British at the neighboring tables. We met half of them again at another restaurant we were at the following day.
On our last night of the trip, we went to Aalto and had agreed we would go à la carte. Just to have a taste. Although the menus at these restaurants serve small portions, in the end you eat many portions, and too much of their homemade bread. But the menu at Aalto was so tempting that we couldn’t resist.
Aalto promotes itself as a boundless cuisine. Chef Takeshi Iwai was born in Japan but went into training in some of the best restaurants in Italy. Today he “plays” with both cultures. He serves you spaghetti which isn’t spaghetti but tsukemen or ramen. Or what about oyster ice cream? Don’t try this at home, as you need the hands of a master like Iwai. Unexpectedly and not anticipated, this was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
I am in Milan at least once per year, so this is a place I want to come back to.
A top five, but there was so much more. Restaurants don’t have to be expensive to be good. Expensive restaurants can be cheap, and cheap restaurants can be top.
One of my favourite wine merchants is Herman Wines, which were awarded the best family restaurant in Holland. Family companies do an amazing job, as proved by the two following (bonus) restaurants.
Away from the crowd and with no terrace is Hostaria da Franz in Venice. Frederika, Ignace, Filip and I booked there last minute as we both appeared to be in town for the Biennale. Excellent cooking and wine proposed by the son of the owners, who came back to his family restaurant after he was told in a five-star London restaurant to serve smaller glasses of wine. A trend I dislike!
Le Perla in Corvara di Badia is a family hotel and restaurant. Pleasant staff, and the boss coming to say you good morning and good evening every day. We had to book ‘half pension’, which feels out of date, but which is a good choice. Good food at a very decent price. Could spend a month in that hotel and write my next book there.
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