Zurich Eats

I don’t think we have yet announced on this blog that Zurich is to be our next home. In fact, Callum has already been there for about 4 months and I will be joining him in a month’s time. So the name of this blog will have less connection to the content, but it’s too good to give up and start collecting followers all over again.

I have visited a couple of times so far but am yet to share the curiosities and experiences, so here is the first of many posts about the capital of Switzerland!

In true ithinktherefore… style, I am going to begin with a post about food and drink – two of our biggest loves.

One of the entertaining things about travel is discovering different flavours of familiar products other countries have. As you can see in the picture below, Switzerland is home to elderflower Fanta and Orangina-flavoured Haribo.

I am a big elderflower fan, so I thought it tastes great (Callum not so much) but we both love the Haribo – they definitely need to expand distribution of those sweets to, say, the UK and the Netherlands. Like, now – before I leave.

I was very surprised at how high the concentration of British-style pubs is in Zurich, and how many other additional places you can buy British ale/beer. Well played Zurich, well played. I can already predict that this will mean I become an addict of London Pride. Incidentally, has anyone ever thought of creating a name for people who are dependent on alcohol? Just an idea…

 Beer, glorious beeeeeerrrr

Not everything Zürich has to offer is familiar though; one pub is offering up a beloved Disney film character as a meal. The barbarians.

Simba... nooooo!

Simba… nooooo! Or, is this what happened to your dad after you couldn’t wake… him.. up? *SOBS*

One of our (already) favourite places to eat is Fork & Bottle. Well worth the bus journey, this place offers a big beer garden with a view to green fields and hills and friendly staff. Also, English is the default language here, which as two non-Swiss German-speaking people, is a definite plus.

Beer Brunch at Fork & Bottle

Beer Brunch at Fork & Bottle

Their beer menu is hand-picked by the owner and Callum describes it as the cream of Swiss craft beer, with nowhere else coming close in terms of offeringS, but (as with other places in Zurich) it is very expensive. You can rack up high bills extremely easily – so be warned! I am a particular fan of the Kurt Pale Ale but am definitely NOT a fan of the basil-flavoured beer they also offer. (That is what you get for being made to feel guilty about sticking with what you know and love!!)

Their food is good; the buttermilk pancakes are my particular favourite, but I felt I had to share my picture of their soft-shell crab burger. It is literally a whole soft-shell crab deep-fried and stuck in a bun. Their fish and chips (which Callum has in the background of the picture below) are also better than any of the Dutch attempts we tried in Amsterdam.

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More Zurich-ness to come…

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Staring at Jacob

This great little brunch-and-cocktails place is located on a corner of Amsterdam where Staringstraat IMG_2609meets Jacob van Lennepkade (Staring + Jacob = clever name!). Having sampled the brunch on one previous occasion, we decided to head there last Sunday (along with the camera) and fill up on more delights before a long walk through the city.

 

The combinations on the menu do seem a little odd – Yorkshire puddings crop up in plates which also feature ratatouille – but they do have simple offerings in the ‘sides’ section of the menu, so you could always create your own fare. We both opted for ‘The all-rounder’, as you can see in the picture below:

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Needless to say, we both cleared our plates, drank all of the maple syrup and felt throughly satisfied. Callum also discovered a new beer he’s rather fond of, which is turns out, is from an Amsterdam-based brewery.

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Below are some shots of the cafe itself. We got there at just the right time as there was a table available straight away but by the time we were finished, a chatty queue was building and the bar seating was full of people ordering beers and delicious-looking cocktails (it was about 12:30 by this point, on a Sunday. Definitely drinking time!).

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If you want to see more pictures then head to their Tumblr site or if you’re in the area head over and sample their delights for yourself. It’s still a new place; you don’t have to scroll far down on the Tumblr feed before you get to the construction pictures! I will definitely be heading back for more pancakes and syrup… Perhaps some cocktails will also be sampled??

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(Just one more picture of the food. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

Bazar

Bazar is a foodie institution in Amsterdam.

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The location is unlikely; an unassuming entrance onto a street that is either a vibrant market (Albert Cuypmarkt) or, after 6, a run-down looking mess. Inside however, is one of the more unique interiors in town.

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The menu seems to be south-east Mediterranean and near-east, with staples such as the house humous, tahini and babaganoush. The kitchen is open until one after midnight too.

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The portions are huge, which makes Bazaar really good value. Better than the food is the atmosphere and energy. It’s possible to just sit at the bar in the middle and soak it all in too.

Café Lusthof

Let down by a tacky conservatory-style street awning, Café Lusthof is inside a brown bar with real character.
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Massively underrated on the bar scene of Amsterdam; perhaps due to being slightly disjunct from the more popular night spots, and a sorry omission from “Around Amsterdam in 80 Beers“.

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I’ve spared you a picture of the exterior- very misleading.

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Venue: 9/10

Rare multi-layer grotto. The walls are full of browning old crap and seal in the charm

Beer: 5/10

Honestly, I can’t remember. I know I had a Trappist, so that’s a floor of 5 I should say.

Café De Koe

The Cow Café is minutes from Leidseplein, so there is no excuse for going to one of the four Irish bars on Amsterdam’s brightest square.

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Thankfully, the cow theme is minimal and only maintained by some bull horns protruding from the bar wall. Speaking of decor- the aluminum wall panel behind the bar is inexplicable and tasteless. Please remove. The other walls support interesting ‘Warholesque’ art.

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For the price, the food is decent. Expect hearty and heavy meals, and for €15 for a main, it’s hard to do better so central.

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Venue: 7/10

Split level bar area provides more space than the typical Dutch bar whilst maintaing a cosy, wintery feel. The restaurant downstairs is altogether different and just as homely.

Beer: 6/10

Stocking La Trappe Isid’or demands a visit to the cow all by itself, and there are 16 others of you have no taste-buds to look after.

The Best Bitterballen in Amsterdam: Café Luxembourg

Proudly emblazoned on the menus of Café Luxembourg is the outlandish claim that they serve the best bitterballen in town.

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Café Luxemburg

A bitterballen is usually translated as ‘meat ragu’, but really it’s a dull grey paste of non-descript meaty origin encased in a batter of breadcrumbs, deep-fried. Sounds awful, but with a beer and some mustard, they are a great health snack.

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Café Luxembourg attempts to glam-up this very unglamorous snack which rather retracts from the point and charm of a bitterballen. Unquestionably tastier, but so is cake, but you wouldn’t eat that with a pint, right?

Belgisch Restaurant Lieve

Hardly a well-kept secret, Lieve has been on our to-do list for some time now. For a restaurant in the Netherlands, the service is uncharacteristically good. We grossly underestimated the popularity of Lieve and were surprised when we were asked if we had a reservation, turning up as we did at 6 on a Monday evening! Thankfully there is a stylish waiting area for the imprudent, where we enjoyed two of the best beers in production: XX Bitter and Timmermans Peche.

I have a huge respect for restaurants that suggest beers to accompany your meal. With over 35 Belgian beers to chose form, they are able to recommend a different beer for every dish on the menu.

We plumped for something they call the Belgisch Barok ‘ambiance’ (dining is not a simple venture here) where one chooses three starters, four mains and three deserts to share in a tapas style.

The clear winner of the first round was the mini flemish stew of pork with Floreffe double beer and beer bread. The mushroom and truffle pate was also very good, but the the goose breast rilette (whatever that is) has a texture more than a little reminiscent of canned tuna.

We don’t normally eat frites (ahem). But the Belgian’s are quite insistent on this accompaniment. The pumpkin pie was unusual and delicious, but the wild boar and deer stew with cranberries probably takes top spot. The vegetable strudel was also great- tangy sauce and stodgy, buttery pastry marginally offsetting the health benefits of the vegetables.

Everyone was a winner in this round. The pannacotta is lined with a jelly made with a rouge beer which really works. The apple struddle was fine and the parfait of sugar and spice cookies is unabashed indulgence.

Kwak sitting proud in its ridiculous glass

If you have time then this a a great experience- arrive hungry.

 

Venue: 6/10

Kooky, rustic and homely. Definitely a restaurant.

Beer: 7/10

Very unusual for restaurants to focus their menu on beer pairings; kudos.

In De Wag

More than 300 candles light your evening in the former gatehouse on Nieuwmarket.

If you want to go somewhere that looks and tastes more expensive than it is, In De Wag is ideal.

The Dutch chicken (whatever that is) was complemented by a lekker plum chutney and the crispiest of pancetta. The burger was only OK, whilst the tagliatelle was a very fine standard: the walnuts offsetting the spinach and smoked ricotta perfectly.

The staff tried to fob me off with a sour tasting Jopen Bok Beer, assuming I was a tourist and a simple “That’s how it should taste” would suffice. But I’m not and it shouldn’t. Gratefully, they Ciney is kept rather well and was also scratched off the bill.

A free mouthful!

In De Wag is a fine example of how good Amsterdam can be so close to the typical gash tourists gravitate towards. The Red Light District backs onto Nieuwmarkt, yet seldom frequented compared to the much, much worse Damrak.

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Venue: 7/10

The building is quite obviously stunning and very unique. However, this is set out to be a restaurant, and one could not pop in for a classy brew or while away the hours.

Beer: 4/10

A few good beers, but nothing special.