Rico’s full name is Rico’s Kunststuben, which means “art room”. This is because it is housed in a 19th century building that was once an art gallery. The head chef now is Rico Zandonella, who in 2012 took over the property from Horst Petermann, who had run the property with his wife since 1982 under the name Petermann’s Kunststuben. Chef Rico Zandonella trained under the original owner and then at various restaurants elsewhere including Tantris. When he took over the premises he retained its pair of Michelin stars. The decor was also changed significantly, to what an estate agent might describe as "playful". There was a red ceiling, a red gnome displayed on a shelf, red leather padding on one wall, a statue of a green human rabbit hybrid on another wall and other curiosities. The room seats 40 guests plus the gnome, with a private dining room in addition. There is a full a la carte choice, as well as tasting menu of assorted lengths and a cheaper lunch option too.
An opening dish comprised beef tartare, foie gras terrine and fried goose liver with apple chutney. The terrine had good texture and the liver flavour was fine, its richness being cut through by the sharpness of the apple. Somewhat eccentrically, the tartare popped up again later, so I will cover that in due course (16/20).
Bread was not made in the kitchen but bought in from a local bakery called Van Burg. The star was a lovely soft pretzel, a world away from the rock-hard creatures of that name so often found in supermarkets. An amuse-bouche of beef tartare came with potato mousseline, green asparagus and a boiled quail egg. The meat was nicely seasoned, with a peppery bite, and the asparagus was a good paring with this (16/20).
The best dish of the meal turned out to be yellowfin tuna tataki with a cylinder of crispy cannelloni containing mousse of tuna, resting on caramelised onion reduced with soy. The latter was particularly impressive, the soy flavour in perfect balance, going really well with the slightly sweet onion and the lightly grilled fish (18/20).
Much less successful was a prettily presented carpaccio of pawpaw in the style of a ballotine, with vinaigrette of pina colada, citrus and vanilla alongside calamari salad, crispy red mullet and salsa verde with kaffir lime. The problem was that the vanilla was far too dominant, its fragrant sweetness overwhelming the other flavours (barely 13/20). Better was ravioli of crab with German asparagus and lemon sabayon with Sardinian tomato reduction. The pasta had good texture and the crab had a pleasing freshness, the tomato flavour coming through well (16/20).
A duo of meats from Bresse comprised slices of both pigeon and chicken, with Onsen egg (an egg poached inside its shell), saffron potato, rhubarb and peas with wasabi cream and crisp. The meat itself had plenty of flavour, the wasabi flavour quite subdued but the potatoes going well with the meat, and the sharpness of the rhubarb cutting though the richness of the egg successfully. My main issue with this dish is that there was too much going on. You had red meat, white meat, egg, fruit, root vegetable and spice. Sometimes less is more, and although the elements were fine and the overall effect was far from unpleasant, the dish felt over fussy and a little confusing (15/20). This was still better than my companion's veal dish, the meat in several forms and accompanied by kohlrabi and, oddly, pistachio mousse. This seemed like another misguided combination to me.
A house specialty dessert had pickled pear with very stiff texture, chocolate mousse and macaron and dehydrated chocolate "air". There was also yoghurt and raspberry ice cream. The latter was the best element of the meal, but chocolate "air" ended up tasting like a bath sponge with a faint hint of chocolate, and the pears resemble miniature frisbees in texture and lost much of their natural flavour in the pickling process (13/20 at best).
Coffee was from a supplier called Carlito and had Brazilian beans, which had good flavour. Curiously, after the disappointing dessert came some very pleasant petit fours. There was a lemon macaron, red berries with chocolate cream, praline of olive oil and lemon, raspberry with vanilla cream, hazelnut with chocolate and cocoa toffee. Service was charming, the staff enthusiastic, friendly and efficient. The bill came to CHF 525 for two (£191 a head). My meal at Rico’s had some enjoyable moments, but at this price one would hope for more.