My friend CM recently invited me to try a new restaurant dedicated to food and drink from her nation, Switzerland. That timely missive justified ending a long crappy day of work and heading to Central Park with two bottles of wine as a contribution to the night.
The restaurant is called Swiss Taste, seats up to sixty (with forty more outside when the weather is nice), and is in the Building 18 space formerly home to Navena Cafe and, before that, Nasca Cafe.
While Swiss Taste is still in “soft opening” mode, with the official launch slated for March 18, there are plenty of options on the menu. We shared a slew of dishes, including some with owner Peter Troesch, a veteran of China’s hospitality business. Here’s what filled our table (the collage above has photos of every item):
- A plaited bread called zopf, a Swiss staple. Don’t expect something soft, sweet and tasteless: this bread is far heavier than it looks.
- Cheese and cold cuts alongside the zopf. CM says this is how she starts dinners in Switzerland.
- Steak tartare, made with grass-fed Australian beef, and in-house marinated salmon appetizers.
- A crispy “pizza” with sour cream where one typically finds cheese.
- “Shots” of pea soup with ham and of pumpkin soup with seeds.
- Fondue with three cheeses: that inspired another round of zopf.
- A veal sausage with sauce and rosti, a shredded potato pancake. And sides of ratatouille and pasta.
- A trio of desserts, including an apple pie-ish dish called apfelwähe, chocolate mousse and meringue.
Whew, that is a slightly overwhelming spread. I enjoyed most the moist-on-the-inside slightly-crusty-on-the-outside potato-y goodness of the rosti, and its partner sauce; the fondue, especially to see CM try to scrape every bit of hardened cheese from the pot; and the pizza, although it is best eaten right away before the crust cools and hardens.
I also liked that most of the dishes — from charcuterie to pizza to fondue to soup shots — were easy to share and would allow a group of friends to work their way through a good part of the menu.
And I was tempted to experiment: I wanted to dip that sausage in the fondue and drip gooey cheese on the pizza. But I wasn’t sure how that would go over with CM, who was raving about the food’s authenticity, and who, as someone who hails from the Swiss alps, had already given me a dubious look when asking if I could ski.
As for drinks, we polished off several bottles of wine. That included a pleasant Swiss one with Chasselas grapes, a waxy green pear aroma and a pleasant mineral-y taste, and a light fresh Chinese one made with Riesling grapes. (Troesch says he is already stocking several dozen Swiss wines.) Oh, and we had a delicious Etter pear brand from Switzerland as a digestif: the company’s site says it takes 11 kilograms of pears to make one bottle of this beverage.
Anyway, that’s a first taste at Swiss Taste, one that had me close to a food coma. I’ll have more details on this place when it opens, including on its brunch menu, the range of Swiss products it will sell for takeaway, and its plans to serve as a cocktail hub, particularly for the crowd from Central Park.
You can reach Swiss Taste via 6597-9229 or info (at) swisstaste.org.
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I visit Beijing many times since 1987. It’s the first time that I ate authentic Swiss food in the “jing”. As a Swiss I was surprised and delighted about the “Zopf” (better than many bakeries in Switzerland) and my Chinese friend loved the pea soup and especially the desserts. Should mention the fantastic cocktails mixed by restaurant manager Matthew. Once they get in terms with its supplier about the texture of the sausage (was kinda saggy), this place is a great new dining- and drinking option in Beijing!