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Restaurants & Bars

Swiss foodie trip- Bad Ragaz and Vals

Belkisw | Jan 11, 202209:05 PM    

I did my first Swiss foodie trip- I am Swiss and generally have been convinced all my life that my country doesn’t have any exciting food to offer, but decided this Christmas to challenge that idea.

First stop was Memories in the Grand Resort in Bad Ragaz. Before dinner we went to the chef’s bar in the lobby and several of his cocktails there were exceptional- subtle but unique and inspired.

The restaurant space is nice, with a grand view of the open kitchen. The opening bites were nice, not exceptional though. The first half of the meal though was very inspired. We started with a horseradish mousse with caviar that was sublimely subtle and delicious. Another standout in the first half was a pumpkin and miso dish, and a mountain fish with a pine infused sauce. These dishes were all subtle, but distinct, and represented a clear viewpoint from the chef. Sadly the meal went a bit down hill for me after that, besides a very yummy pork and cabbage dish. There was the spatzli with truffle dish. Yes the spatzli were lovely, but it is a dish that can only be elevated so much, and just to wack some truffles on top doesn’t make it worthy for me of a 2 star meal. It was yummy, yes, but still. The lowest point of the meal for me was the steak- it was a 9-year-old dairy cow. Now any Swiss person knows there is a reason generally you don’t eat Swiss beef, the beef of dairy cows just isn’t very tasty, and this steak wasn’t. It holds not a candle to a good beefy angus, or fatty wagyu. And you get the sense the chef is serving it to you just because of the novelty that it is Swiss dairy cow beef. I want to be served beef because it is excellent, not just because it is Swiss. The cheese course was a bite of raclette. It was yummy, the cheese was good, the bread was crispy, the cornichon was excellent, but it was very heavy for a cheese course that comes after a lot of starters and mains, and before dessert. The pre-dessert was a yummy carrot dish, but the main dessert upset me. It was a chocolate mousse that was not very yummy- less good than you get at the Kronenhalle in Zurich by a long shot, and given that it was the only chocolate served all meal (he even served a mole sauce in the pork course where he decided to remove the chocolate from the sauce, despite us being in Switzerland which was slightly baffling given his desire to feature Swiss elements), it was truly disappointing. Overall I would say it is a good meal, worth having, but I think because the restaurant is in a hotel, the chef seems to feel compelled to have a few dishes “for the tourists” which I see as a bit of the downfall in his vision. Wines weren’t great

Second we went to IGNIV in the Grand Resort in Bad Ragaz. The room is charming, and we had the best table in the restaurant, right in front of the fireplace, so a great atmosphere. Service was largely good, though the wines weren’t great. The biggest gripe I have with this place is the method of serving. The staff say that because the name of the restaurant means nest in Romansch, the dishes are served “family style” and you serve yourself from the plate/bowl. But many of the dishes could have been plated separately (i.e. there was nothing about the nature of the dish that made it better to be served family style), and indeed dishes were served for example in bowls with high sides so it was near impossible to scoop out what was inside neatly, or bowls that came to the table very hot, along with a flat spoon, which meant you couldn’t then tilt the bowl to pour the sauce onto the main ingredients once you moved them to your plate or spoon it out. This was quite annoying I have to say. But now on to the good news. The meal was very good. First thing to not was that there was not a single bad dish, and for a meal of this size, that is saying something. Every dish was yummy, some were really yummy. The starters and the first of the “surprise” dishes didn’t include any stand-outs, but then the mains really took it home with dishes that tasted delicious in a Swiss but elevated way, and the desserts were really fantastic. One of them was one of the better desserts I have had in a long, long time.

Third we ate at 7132 Silver in Vals. This meal was another level, and cannot be compared to the first two. This felt like a 3 star meal from beginning to end, with the exception of one very boring fish course and an underwhelming first dessert. I should note we went on a night where there was a guest chef from Alois in Munich so a handful of the dishes were his, not chef Birlo's. The wine pairings were excellent, the dishes were rich and sensual, and very creative. The spicy pumpkin purée pretzel, the stunning bone marrow waffle and tartar, the smoked saibling, the insanely good caviar and chestnut mousse, the beautiful sweetbreads and truffle, and the incredibly rich and umami roasted celeriac just to name a few. And the cheese course was one of the best I have ever had and so creative. A resounding success and I can't wait to come back, especially to enjoy the stunning hotel and famous thermal baths by one of Switzerland’s best architects.

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