We decided to grab a snack, per our guide’s recommendation, at a local wiener joint called Sternen Grill, before enjoying the scenery of Lake Zürich. Although we weren’t quite sure what we ordered, what we got was good – an extra-long sausage you dip in spicy mustard and eat directly, no bread delivery mechanism. Warning: this mustard is spicy! Although the line seemed long Brendan breezed through while I grabbed a table with a lake view. We also ordered two beers, which would fuel us through our Lake Zürich jaunt to come.
After our snack, we walked to the opera via the lakeside promenade, which reminded us a little of Split. We imagined the scenery in the summer with the charming lakeside mountain backdrop.
Along the route we found the main Christmas market of the city and tried to enter, but you needed the Swiss Digital vaccine certificate, which we were still waiting for. So, we wove down an alley, stumbled in to a neat, local shop, and bought Brendan a scarf.
After some shopping therapy, we finally made it to the Opera, right on Lake Zürich.
At this point, I needed to use the restroom. All I can say is that those public restrooms in the opera square are some of the nicest public restrooms I’ve ever seen, right there on Lake Zürich. You don’t have to touch anything; you waive your hands and press buttons to move things, and they provide hand sanitizer and ample supplies. You pee into a gushing stream of water below that keeps everything circulating and eliminates any stench. You never think you’d enjoy a public restroom; and I still didn’t…although this was close. On top of that, it was free!
From that pit stop, we decided to check out the bar that our bartender at Octans in Luxembourg recommended we visit – a place he really admired and always wanted to try. The name was Bar am Wasser (literally bar on the water), but it was oh so much more. Firstly, we were stumped at the door because the waiter required the Swiss COVID digital certificates, and we hadn’t received ours yet. But, we hadn’t checked email all day so we asked for the Wi-Fi password, hooked in, and actually both of us had coincidentally received our vaccine passes! So we downloaded them, they were scanned, and we were allowed entry. Just in the nick of time.
The waiter who greeted us and allowed us to use internet to get our passes warmed up over time and provided great drink recommendations. The menu was organized like a trip around the globe, with different drinks for different regional adventures. I ordered a rum drink first with a dried ice presentation, and a French drink with gin next. We were able to film a fun video of the unveiling with the dry ice after the waiter warned us to get our cameras ready.
Brendan had an Ethiopian coffee cocktail followed by a banana Jamaican cocktail with jerk spices around the rim. The service, presentation, location, and hard product were all superb, and so much care was taken to ensure the creativity of the dish was preserved. We had fun also talking to the waiter about Octans in Luxembourg and how the bartender there had always admired Bar am Wasser from afar.
Today was certainly the day of fine dining – cocktails first, then dinner. After cocktails we returned to the hotel to prepare for our fancy dinner at 6PM at Neue Taverne, a vegetarian focused 1 Michelin Star restaurant nearby. We queued up to enter on time and were glad to have our digital vaccine passes because they were checking them. We were seated at a table by a window in the corner in the tiny restaurant and were pleased with our location.
The service started off a bit cold and procedural, and the waiter we presumed was a little put off by having to use English, but once he figured out what we needed he slowly eased in to pleasantries. We were notified that we needed to be out in 2 hours, in time for the next service. Both Brendan and I ordered the Prix Fixe (pronounced pree-fiks) and I accompanied it with the wine pairings, which started dry and ended sweet. A server offered an explanation of every course before it was dropped off. See the next blog for a deep dive, course by course, by guest blogger Brendan.
We finished the meal over the moon, and wished there was a concept like this near us – high-end vegetarian food for foodies. While animal products are used throughout the meal for flavor, they are only an accompaniment to the centerpiece of vegetables. All in all, the service was just OK but did improve over the course of our meal, and the ambience was not memorable, but this was all about the food and presentation. Kudos to the chef. The experience overall was still better at Hisa Franko, another memorable Michelin-style restaurant we experienced in Slovenia (featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table). That was our only direct comparison as this was our first ever Michelin start dining experience!