Andreas Caminada and his beloved restaurant Schloss Schauenstein (it’s a 6-room hotel as well) have been one of the hottest chefs and restaurants in their country and the whole Europe. The restaurant is located in the valley of Domleschg – to be exact in Furstenau, arguably the world’s smallest city. It was not an easy area to reach as it’s pretty much another in-the-middle-of-nowhere dining place. However, as long as the restaurant can be “comfortably” reached by public transport, whenever the opportunity arises, I would make an effort to visit that place. That’s what I did in October this year … having a lunch at Caminada’s temple of haute cuisine
My wife and I ordered a 6-course menu (including cheese and a dessert). By now, many people should know what this meant … in addition to the real dishes from the tasting menu, Andreas and his team would provide 5-6 nibbles / finger food items, then 4 different amuse-bouche served separately before the 1st appetizer and 6-7 mignardises in the end. For the menu … I tended to like the meat items more than the fish ones. During this lunch, we had:
-Sweetbread prepared until the outside was golden and ‘crispy’ but the inside was still tender and flavorful. It was served with tasty and sweet orange sauce (apple, honey and balsamic), fresh pickled celeriac foam and rather bitter parsley cream.
-Local pork prepared 2 ways: the crispy pork belly was heavenly and sinful, the most delicious thing I ate here. Another one was a more refined and carefully cooked pork fillet – the texture and temperature were great but the succulent meat was not as flavorful as I expected. The pork was accompanied by vegetable cream, tomato and pickled button mushroom to balance anything you might find to be too rich / intense
For more details about the rest of the dishes, I will let you see from the link below
As you could see, Andreas Caminada seemed to like anything “pickled”. Well, over the course of this lunch, I found that he’s indeed the master of creating acidity / sour flavor naturally. Like the ingredients used previously, even the cheese dish was all local. The dessert was unfortunately rather weak … the technique and execution were good but both of us were not too fond of the main produce – plum with yoghurt. Then, the pastry team also prepared soufflé and granite but the flavors used were derived from curd and verbena respectively – we’re not too keen on them either. Our lunch package included wine pairing and they’re sourced locally from Switzerland and most of them were relatively young wines. I kinda liked the selection and in fact, it’s been a while I’ve never consumed this much alcohol (7 glasses – at least equivalent to the whole bottle per person). Around the dessert time, honestly I felt somewhat “tipsy” or nearly half drunk ;)
The castle was really old obviously (from the 12th century) and Andreas Caminada tried to preserve it as much as possible. The interior of the dining room itself was modern and minimalist with some paintings and pictures on the wooden walls / panels. There were 2 dining rooms and altogether they could fit about 25-30 people; yes, it’s relatively small. 2-3 months advanced reservation especially over the weekend was essential.
Chef Caminada paid attention to the guests’ overall experience. He himself led and trained his service staffs. He wanted to make sure guests received great service even from the reservation process. During a nice weather, guests were encouraged to eat their small-bytes and amuse at the partially covered terrace with beautiful mountain in the backdrop. In the evening, I was told that diners were welcomed to the opulence bar and lounge located 1 floor above the main dining room to enjoy their petit fours. Given the long meal (4+ hours), the restaurant wanted to make sure that guests not feel bored to be seated in the same room throughout
The meal was indeed memorable. The service was impeccable, the best one I’ve ever experienced in Switzerland. The front team staffs were predominantly female dressed in black; they were very competent – amiable, attentive and knowledgeable. The pacing for both the food and wine were just nice. Had the location been more accessible, I would’ve visited this place more often in the future. A foodie looking for modern and complex cooking with good balance optimizing the use of mostly the best produce from Graubunden canton … there’s hardly any better place than Andreas Caminada’s flagship restaurant.
Pictures of the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357...
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