While you can find my musings on travel, food, hotel reviews, and recipe testing on this gorgeous blog, I don’t often leave feedback directly to establishments unless it’s particularly incredible or awful. In the case of Steinhalle Bern, I thanked the chef, waiter, and host directly, lauding the experience as my favorite meal in Switzerland in three years of living here. Was it the wine pairings talking? Nope, I returned home and wrote them a similar review directly to the team.
I mean wow! My friends from Los Angeles who were here touring Switzerland a year or so ago, found this on a whim thanks to their hotel concierge. They were giddy over the combo of Michlen star, their ability to wear jeans, and the themed rotating menus. I’ve regarded the menus time and time again over the last year and a half that I had come to learn about this well-reviewed restaurant, but was yet to make the journey to Bern. After reading that it was tapas at the moment, I knew this would pair well with the Miro exhibit I was in town to see and perhaps the theme of Spanish art I had in the back of mind for the year. (Did I just theme a year? Maybe.)
After having a glass with a friend, she dropped me off in this mostly residential location. Driving by blocks of apartment buildings, it was pretty shocking to pull up to what can only be described as a chic haunted mansion, full moon was on point.
After hiking up the long gravel driveway (thankfully in a low wedge-heeled boot), I was greeted with this gorgeous outside space, set up with a small bar and fires to accommodate the smoker crowd. (We are in Europe after all). The whole vibe had me wanting to return in summer before I ever even entered the restaurant.
The restaurant kindly sends you a survey the day before your arrival where you can note any allergies and seating preference- dining table, kitchen bar, or high bar. Spoiled for choice, I decided not to return the survey and just to be surprised. Lucky for me, I was seated in the bird’s nest bar with an excellent view of the kitchen and some really excellent people watching of couples on dates and groups of friends celebrating. Even nicer, was that I was not the only solo diner at such a fantastic spot.
My waiter was absolutely charming, asking me if I wanted to be surprised by the menu or to know it in advance. Loved this. Of course, I chose to be surprised by dinner and wine pairing.
The amuse bouche was a playful pepper tortilla. Could this presentation be better?
For starters, I was brought a sampling of pinxos which included bread, merenguez sausage, olives marinated with lemon, a croqueta, cucumber, and an eggplant dip.
Followed by monkfish, pickled cauliflower, and a see-through cauliflower wonton.
One, perfect, South African shrimp (with a crunchy component) was served with a delicious garlic aioli. Not sure what the plate choice was about, but this was fantastic.
The main- braised lamb cheeks with pickled veggies and an absolutely delicious, velvety sauce (the waiter left me bread for the occasion) was the main. It was served with a lukewarm potato puree which had a bit of lemon element to it.
The palate cleanser was a bright, literal explosion of flavor enrobed in white chocolate. Served with an oily port, I could have stopped here, but there were two more dessert courses (and an optional cheese course) to be had.
A rice pudding, made to order with chunky bits of fresh pear was served in a high stemmed glass topped with a bit of sorbet and just the tiniest splash of vinegar.
And finally, la piece de la resistance– dessert! A chocolate-orange orange was served perfectly disguised as the fruit at hand. The creamy center was full of “Valencia orange or different textures” which meant cream, fruity, crunchy. Omg, absolute love at first bite… rather… glace. Just gorgeous!
How refreshing to be so charmed by a restaurant and its staff which measured up to having my hair blown back by the food. I’m so grateful life affords me experimental experiences like this. The whole day, topped with this perfect meal, was just the creative uplift I needed to push through the doldrums of winter. Thank you for reinvigorating me, Steinhalle Bern. Until your next menu…