The Restaurant is the gourmet restaurant within the Dolder Grand hotel, which overlooks Zurich from a hilltop. The dining room is modern in décor, with lovely views out over Zurich’s lake on one side, and over woods and mountains from the other side of the dining room. Chef Heiko Nieder, originally from north Germany, has been in place since the opening of the restaurant in April 2008, quickly gaining a Michelin star and then a second star in the 2011 guide. The menu offers a five course tasting menu at CHF 178, which is what we went for, while on the a la carte starters range from CHF 39 to CHF 75, main courses CHF 65 to CHF 95, with a two course set lunch menu at CHF 72. The cooking is modern in style, with an emphasis on unusual flavour combinations.
The wine list appeared to be generally marked up around three times the retail price. Guigal Condrieu 2007 was CHF 126 compared to a retail price of around CHF 46, while its grander sibling La Dorianne 2007 was CHF 288 for a wine that costs around CHF 86, Planeta Chardonnay 2007 was CHF 96 for a wine you can buy in the shops for around CHF 30, while Salitage Chardonnay 2005 was CHF 100 for a wine that will cost you about CHF 28. We drank Josmeyer Pinot Gris 2004 at CHF 80 for a wine that you can buy in the shops for around CHF 24.
We began with assorted nibbles: asparagus with raspberry, crisp breads with cheese, cucumber and salmon with cream cheese on pumpernickel, sweet potato with dill. Presentation was pretty and the flavours clear and distinct (7/10). An initial selection of breads comprised garlic baguette, focaccia and and pumpkin bread. These were clearly very fresh and well made (9/10). Later a further bread selection appeared, again beautifully made.
The first course was tuna with cucumber, apple and wasabi granita: the tuna itself was high quality, the granita having excellent texture, and the balance of flavours of the cucumber, apple and wasabi was top class, the wasabi providing just enough bite for the tuna (9/10). Next were langoustines, both raw and cooked, with strawberries marinated in vinegar. The langoustines themselves were very good, the combination with strawberries not something I would have thought of, though in this case the acidity provided by the vinegar helped balance the dish more than I would have expected (7/10).
The best dish was white asparagus with egg yolk, caviar and watercress. The asparagus itself had superb flavour, the lovely warm egg a classic combination with asparagus, with tiny pieces of ham giving an extra taste note and little pieces of nuts giving additional texture, and little lime providing some welcome acidity. This was a magnificent dish in every way (10/10).
Red mullet was next, served with mashed peas and chorizo sauce; the fish was fresh and carefully cooked, the chorizo sauce working well with the fish (8/10). My main course was veal with morels and veal ragout, with a salad of warm potato, plus little potato crisps and lettuce: the excellent veal was carefully cooked, the salad elements of high quality (8/10).
For dessert was rhubarb cake, with baby meringues, hazelnut ice-cream, rhubarb jelly and lime zest with little hazelnut biscuits and shortbread: this was attractive and refreshing (8/10). Petit fours included seasonal fruit with lemon myrtle tree jelly, cotton candy with pepper and sea salt, liquorice ice cream, lavender macaroon, orange jellied ices with fennel and olive oil, lemon with Szechuan pepper biscuit with red rice and fruit chocolate with basil. I found some of these combinations too off the wall for me, while the macaroon itself was too hard in texture, a rare technical slip in a meal that was otherwise hard to fault in terms of cooking technique.
The bill was CHF 244 (£164) each, with one thing to note: a 75 cl bottle of Hildon was priced at CHF 15.50 per bottle (£10.47), which may be the most absurdly expensive mineral water I have ever seen in a restaurant. Service was not particularly good, with empty water and wine glasses at times even on a quiet lunch service, and a waiter who was polite but did not seem very interested. Overall, though, I was very impressed with this meal. The flavour combinations, while inventive, generally make sense, while ingredients were of high quality and cooking technique was excellent.