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…
Only 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. The Franzos proves once again that less really is more.
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 tried 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! »
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Limmatquai 138, 8001 Zürich
Telephone: +41 44 542 46 33
Monday to Thursday: 08:00-23:00