Awarded with one Michelin star, Maison Manesse in Zürich offers a surprising experience for the taste buds in the form of casual fine dining.
Located on the Hopfenstrasse in Kreis 4, the entrance of the restaurant is already different from my expectations. A wooden door covered in graffiti leads you to a funky and informal restaurant. On the bar there are a lot of quirky bottles with special oils and interesting ingredients. The overall look is fresh and modern with a twist. The best part is that it is so different from any other restaurant in Zürich. I couldn’t wait to see what is on the menu.
There were two dining menus to choose from a big (16 tastings), or a somewhat smaller menu (13 tastings). But whát you will get is still a surprise until it appears on the table. Of course you can indicate your preferences or diet restrictions upfront like in any restaurant of this standing.
It sounds like a lot of food, but every serve was very well proportioned so you will not overeat yourself.
Like everything in Zürich, exquisite food like this comes with a price. But compared to other restaurants in the city, you will get top value for your money if you like something new, of high quality and surprising. You buy an experience for the senses and your tastebuds will be tickled in ways that you have not felt before. And to be honest, the culinary scene tends to be quite traditional in Zürich and it can use some inspiration and out-of-the-box thinking. So if you are happy to pay 75 CHF for your traditional veal schnitzel with a glass of wine, then this is probably not your place.
An overall impression of the food at Maison Manesse
I would describe the dishes we got as experimental, as do they on the website. An intriguing mix of flavors and ingredients makes every single serve a little party for your taste buds. Throughout the courses, we were often surprised by funny substances and interesting combinations. Like frozen air or a macaron at -40 in example.
We were warmly welcomed and the host makes you feel at home from the start.
When we sat down, the first thing we we got was a Sechuan Button. A small dried flower that we should eat first, because it works as a palette cleanser. This is the moment where the real experience starts. In case you have never heard of it before, it is a flower bud and chewing on it, gives some sort of electrical experience in your mouth. It starts off tasting like champaign, when you place it on the tip of your tongue. Later on it will start to develop more like a metallic kind of taste and my tongue got the same feeling like when eating a strong mint, that feeling when it numbs a bit. But without the mint flavor. It is hard to describe, but I never tasted anything like that before.
The dishes that followed were all fantastic and original combinations. It was very tasteful and well prepared by the chef of Maison Manesse, Fabian Spiquel.
The courses we ate at Maison Manesse
The first course was sort of a guessing game, where we got a tiny box with 5 different liquids. Each liquid represented one of the tastes that we know, sweet, bitter, sour, savory and umami. We managed to guess the taste, but the specific ingredients were harder to recognize. Let’s say that together, we guessed half.
Second up was a fish from the lake of Zürich together with a foam of apple and a small salad of apple.
The third course was the most unforgettable, it was THE BEST tartar I have ever eaten. To enjoy it even more, the kitchen left some little bottles and capsules on the table, with ingredients to finish the dish. Things like salmon broth or smoked paprika oil. We received some instructions, with recommendations of each quantity. So we were not completely on our own on this.
Afterwards we got a sous-vide* cooked egg, heated at 63 degrees celsius, for about an hour. A paste of parsley and puffed buckwheat covered up the egg. Another well proportioned serving.
To further awaken our appetite, we got a jar of ‘frozen air’, with a passion fruit flavor. As soon as I took the first bite, I completely understood the name of it. You take the bite, the shape of the frozen substance immediately disappears, and all that is left is the taste of passion fruit. One of the coolest things I ever ate.
Next we got winter cod with mint leaves, a Peruvian potato and a sauce of chillies. The interesting combination of flavors and the soft sous vide cooked fish were a surprising combination of ingredients.
The main course was next on the program. Sous vide cooked shoulder of veal on a bed of sauerkraut and a fried potato. I am sorry I don’t remember the name, because it was no regular potato, it tasted a bit like maniok, with the structure of a potato.
After the main course we got a little treat in the form of a frozen macaron, and with frozen I mean it was at -40 degrees celsius.
We ended the marvelous diner with the dish “Pineapple pine apple”. A combination of almond cake, with pineapple puree, drops of pineapple mustard and apple yogurt. Together with a scoop of apple sorbet served on a bed of chocolate crumbs.
And as the final surprise of this evening, we got our own cappuccino flavored marshmallow. On a small flame that was brought to the table, we could roast it ourselves. We enjoyed this together with a chili praline.
And last but not least, with the bill came a treat for the way home. An edible lipstick with beetroot flavor.
*sous vide is a slow cooking method, where an ingredient is vacuum sealed and cooked for a long period of time below 100 degrees celsius.
**The photos displayed in this post are owned by Maison Manesse and are posted with their permission. Even though I always use my own photos in travel posts, I like to enjoy a diner in good company. I prefer not to take out my camera to take photos during diner.