Basel, a city with plenty of museums, is known as a rich city. My friend who’s familiar with banking world called this place was filled with lots of “old money”. However, what drew me to this city was the latest 3-star Michelin at Switzerland bestowed in 2016 to the flagship restaurant of the only grand hotel in town – Les trois rois. The restaurant was called Cheval Blanc, named after the respectable wine producer in St. Emilion. Cheval Blanc reached many foodies’ radar ever since the arrival of Peter Knogl, originally from Bavaria, in 2007. He was trained under the reputable chef Heinz Winkler in both Tantris and Aschau’s Residenz. Within 2 years in charge of the restaurant, Chef Knogl already attained 2-star. Gault Millau’s chef of the year was other prestigious awards he received … twice.
Although my wife and I came here during lunch time, we ordered the full tasting menu. The sign that the food at Cheval Blanc would be wonderful could be seen from the beginning. The amuse-bouches … 4 of them were dazzling. Then, we had the smooth and delicious foie gras as our first real appetizer with sweet fig confit and kinda acidic cassis. From this, I was convinced that I needed to order some extra items from the a la carte. The fish & seafood were really strong here while the meat parts were also very good. Some of my favorites were:
- The lightly cooked scallop was of outstanding quality: plump, tender and naturally sweet. It was accompanied by fresh carrot and seasoned with vadouvan (fermented spices) having interesting + complex taste & aroma. A very good classical dish with modern touch.
- Japanese kingfish was moist, clean & buttery. It was beautifully enhanced by the crisp radish, nutty avocado & savory miso. The combination of the sides produced plenty of vibrant flavors with pleasant texture contrasts - really refreshing! A simple cold appetizer that turned out to be awesome
- Juicy and rather firm red Mullet nicely absorbed the saffron sauce and tomato vinaigrette. It was cooked with its crispy scales
- Our meat course was solid – an earthy and wild Styrian venison; relatively tender, tasty and a bit gamey. The Rouennaise sauce was rich but balanced by the celery mousseline.
There were a few more dishes and I will let find them by reading the more comprehensive review below. The food was definitely stunning, arguably the best one I’ve eaten in the country (pretty much toe-to-toe with l’Hotel de ville). The dining room was not that big; it could only cover about 30 people. Yet, it’s spacious and designed with classical style interiors: crystal chandeliers, dark parquet floor & partly covered with carpets, some fine paintings on the wall, big & heavy purple drapes, large table with crisp white linens on top etc. The only issue was possibly the service. It was not bad per se but did not deliver at the height of its food. Again, you could find more details from the link’s below. Peter Knogl, the amiable and gentle chef, visited the dining room near the end and took time to talk to each table. My meal here (purely on food) scored 96 pts in my notes … about 2 ¾* by Michelin standards. Thus, the red guide book highest honor to Cheval Blanc was very well-deserved. I look forward to making a return here should I be near the Basel area in the future.