Category Archives: Zurich

Ever had a burger in a former streetcar station? Get it at the Helvti Diner

Burgers are their business. And their business provides a quality and taste I haven’t encountered elsewhere, even in the USA.
The Helvti Diner, open since October 2011, is definitely the best burger place I’ve ever put foot in.

A diner you say? Well, this may not be the diner that comes to mind when thinking of an American movie or what you may have experienced in real life. This diner does not have greasy tables, cold tile floors, or booths’ that you don’t want to touch because they look filthy. No, this diner is, as my husband would say, the luxury Swiss version of an American diner.

Every time I visit the Helvti I receive a friendly greeting, especially from the general manager Armon. The authentic music they play makes the wait for a table pass quickly (times can vary depending on the day and time). Be warned that on the weekends you have almost no chance to quickly get a table as a walk in so reserve in advance if possible. If you do have to wait, rest assured that when your table is free the experience is worth every minute.

The Helvti doesn’t pretend to be a “serve all types of food” place, which I like a lot. Their slogan “Burgers are our Business” pretty much says it all. You will not find any “foo foo” or “wannabe” dishes on the menu. What you will find are burgers, fries, side salads, milkshakes, and deserts. There are a few options for vegetarians, but really, you come for the meat not the greens.

With luxury burgers also come luxury prices. But once you taste this special burger developed by Françoise Wicki (chef of the Restaurant Helvetia across the road) you will find that it is worth every Rappen (Swiss cent). The Swiss Prime Burger is declared to be 100% Swiss Veal. The classic burger is 100% Swiss Angus Beef, while the Helvti Diner special is made of 100% Wagyu Beef. The Wagyu is supposed to have a more aromatic taste, although I am not sure I would be able to tell the difference. The meat mixtures do not contain any further additives, as often used in other burger places, such as pork meat, eggs or simply fat. A quarter pounder (170g) burger costs between 17.50 CHF (Swiss Prime Burger) and 32.50 CHF (Wagyu Burger) each served with coleslaw, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. If you feel very adventurous, you can even go for the double quarter pounder (2x170g). Just keep in mind that the double is a lot of meat to eat. I once shared a table with three guys who ordered the doubles only to watch them go pale when they were served (which made me laugh to no end).

The burgers come with a homemade sauce of chili, spicy BBQ, cocktail, hot’n’spicy tomato, curry or garlic mayonnaise. I prefer the garlic mayonnaise over the others, especially the hot’n’spicy which was too sweet for my taste buds. You can further “pimp your burger” with cheese (choice of original cheddar, Swiss alpine, and blue), Swiss bacon, fried egg or my personal favorite “holy moly! guacamole” for an extra change between 2.50 and 4.00 CHF. I often order more than I can actually eat. My usual is the Swiss Prime or the Classic Burger with a side of French Fries (extra 4.50 CHF) topped with cheddar, bacon and the holy moly! guacamole. Add a nice cold Amboss blond draft and I am as happy as can be!

The atmosphere at the Helvti Diner is quite pleasant despite the high turn over of guests. The seating is narrow and the tables a bit small so it may not be the best place to go for a long evening. Unless of course you like to hang out at the bar, drink some beers, listen to nice music and watch people come in, go out and go by. As someone described it before: “You never sit at the Helvti Diner longer than on an extended tram ride.”

The people working at the Helvti Diner are extremely friendly and attentive, the burgers are cooked as you’d like them and have always been served exactly how we ordered them. Even when the place is over crowded, Armon and his staff have always been super calm and managed to accommodate all their guests as well as possible.

Tips:

  • Always make a reservation, no matter if lunch or dinner time
  • Ask for a booth in the back of the diner
  • Watch out: Closed on Sundays

Helvti Diner
Kasernenstr. 2
8004 Zürich
Tel.: 043 322 04 24
http://www.helvti-diner.ch

A little bit of Paris in the heart of Zurich – The Franzos

It is true that you find tons of Italians, Thai and others, but almost no French restaurants or bistros in Zurich. It was actually by chance, that I noticed the Franzos (Swiss word for Frenchman), walking through the Niederdorf the other day. Intrigued by the unique atmosphere caused by the sunset shining through the bistro and bathing it in a warm romantic light, I kept thinking about the place and what it was all about…

IMG_3025Only a day later I went back to check if the sunset was the only thing that created the atmosphere. What I found was a little piece of Paris in Zurich.

The owners Raffaele and his brother-in-law Marc-Antoine opened the Franzos one month ago and have managed to create a unique French feeling in a small and intimate setting. They are very attentive and charming hosts, who both worked on the set-up of the Franzos, from the menu to the interior design of the Bistro. The Franzos displays an immaculate taste in the way it presents itself to the public. It has an unpretentious look and feel with small wooden tables on iron feet and wooden chairs with an antique feel, that were probably individually selected. The picture frames along the white wall are filled with artistic sketches or photos of famous Frenchies like Brigit Bardo and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Even the bar is simply painted in a lovely old pastel blue. Low chansons are playing in the background.

The Franzos proves once again that less really is more.

“Vraiment spectaculaire”

4_Franzos_Pics Wall

Raffaele is a marketing professional formerly on the board of Globus as head of interior design, as well as Big Zürich and others. He already has quite a bit of experience in the gastro and club sectors, mostly as a concepts consultant. With the Franzos, he has finally created the next gastro concept for his own Bistro.

Marc-Antoine really fits the Bistro garçon description complete with a charming French accent. He is, however, much more attentive and courteous that any garçon I have ever experienced in France. This speaks for both of them, Raffaele and Marc-Antoine as well as for their support staff, two young ladies.

The menu at the Franzos is contemporary bistro cuisine. The Petit-Déjeuner, served Monday to Friday until 11:00 and Saturday and Sunday until 14:00, offers the choice of baguette, butter, jams and white cheese for only 8.50 CHF, which is indeed a very good price for Zurich. You can also choose from other favorites such as œuf à la coque (boiled eggs), pain au chocolate, croissant and brioche.

Lunches are served from Monday to Friday between 11:30 and 14:00. You have the choice of a soup du jour, salad with warm goat cheese, croque monsieur (toasted cheese and ham sandwich), home made terrine (excellent!) with salad and quiche, either vegetarian or Lorraine. We tri7_Franzos_Quicheed the quiche végétarienne with salad and were more than happy. The size for a lunch meal is perfect, the taste excellent and freshly prepared. Meats are either Swiss or French.

The apéritif, Monday through Saturday until 22:00 and Sundays until 19:00 offers a platter with a portion of one choice from the following – cheeses, cold cuts (meats), black and green olives, and rilettes (kind of pâté). You can also order vegetable dips, the croque-monsieur or soup of the day.

The deserts, served at any time of the day include tarte tatin, fondant au chocolat, truffe au chocolate, cherry liquor and ice cream with whipped cream.

The wine menu has French whites and reds including my all time favorite for the name, Whispering Angel, a 2012 Château d’Esclans, Côte de Provence, Grencache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes. According to Raffaele and Marc-Antoine, this wine is always suitable – to everything.

The Franzos can be summed up by the words they write on the first page of the little bistro’s menu:

«A dangerous love affair he is, the Frenchman. Steals flowers and steals hearts. Knows to enjoy life. Lives with categorical nonchalance. Beams when he invents or plots something new. And he often does. The cheekiness suits him well. Let yourself be wrapped around the finger: Bienvenue au Franzos! »

Address:
Limmatquai 138, 8001 Zürich
Telephone: +41 44 542 46 33
bonjour@franzos.ch

Opening hours:
Monday to Thursday: 08:00-23:00
Friday: 08:00-01:00
Saturday: 10:00-01:00
Sunday: 11:00-19:00

Special Thanks to Meri for reviewing the Franzos with me 🙂

Heidi&Tell is the answer to the American Hooters

Heidi&Tell is a burger place that simply delivers great, fresh tasting burgers, crispy fries, soup and some sweets of the day. Ah, yes, all that and beers as well. So what made me think of the Swiss Hooters reference? Actually, it is just because of one poster and that’s really the only reason.  The food is way better than any Hooters, McDonalds or Burger King together.

If I think of burgers, I think of McDonald’s sticky floors, spongy bread, cheese that doesn’t taste like cheese, and fries that are made of some potato starch paste. Honestly, the only times I actually go to McDonalds is to use the bathroom.

Now, I’ve had good burgers, but since I live in Zurich, it would be quite a way to go to a Five Guys burger place in the US.  After a friend recommended Heidi & Tell, I no longer have to cross the Atlantic to satisfy my burger fix.  I even like the place itself with the non-sticky wooden floors, simple wooden tables, a really nice terrace towards the Tessiner Platz at Bahnhof Enge, and live streaming music courtesy of Carolina webradio.

The best of all is that all the ingredients are 100% natural with no additives, preservatives or any of the other junk that makes me dislike fast food in the first place.

An added bonus also is that the burgers come in a little carton box, which helps non-experienced burger eaters like me to minimize the mess. Great idea!  All cups, cutleries and serviettes support their sustainably friendly environment (you won’t find any plastic at Heidi&Tell for sure).

Burgers are made with Swiss meat and come on a handmade bun, and cheese with a Swiss twist, which basically means that you choose from Gruyere, Appenzeller or Emmentaler cheese, and get some HT (Heidi&Tell) fries on the side. The fries are even sprinkled with cheese and parsley and somehow make you feel healthy as you eat them.

Heidi&Tell is comfortable, even though clearly set up as a Take Away. You can definitely spend some time in there, surfing the Wi-Fi for free. The atmosphere is down-to-earth, music in the background, maybe the waitresses are not the most happy ones, when you don’t get the ordering system right away, but the good coffee and the brownie manage to make up for any problems.