SV: Stora middagstråden
Well, folks, the not so secret (or discrete ;D ) test eater for finewines.se has been out and about again. This time he landed at Rigiblick Spice
in Zürich. The restaurant is located on a mountain side with a splendid view over Zürich.
The place is run by the Nickel siblings Julia and Christian (kitchen chef), both under 30 according to their passports; both looking older than 50 after my visit… ;D
More or less as always before a visit to a restaurant I was warming up on a spinning bike. More or less as never no techno was played so I was already in a good mood when my butt landed on the chair at my designated table and without any delay ordered a Gosset Grand Rosé Brut
. As we all know, this is good shit!
It would of course be a shame not to have some food to accompany this champagne so the kitchen serves me a greeting containing cream of duck liver with mango-rum-jelly and lard; char (röding; Saibling) tartar with cucumber jelly, tonic foam and passion fruit; and a leek soup. The passion fruit is slightly too dominating to the tartar and the soup could have the slightest touch more of leek taste but it is really nitpicking. What catches my attention is the duck liver. So smooth, so tasty, so yummy! This is why I keep going to the top restaurants!
Once the menu for the evening has been picked it is time to scan the wine list. My eyes land on 2008 Grüner Veltliner M (FX Pichler), Wachau
but I am talked into instead taking 2008 Riesling Smaragd (FX Pichler), Dürnsteiner Kellerberg, Wachau
. My favorite white grape from one of my favorite producers from one of my favorite years, what can go wrong? The wine is slightly anonymous from the start but in a matter of minutes the petroleum nose is present. Right at the beginning the wine has a weaker body than the ’06 but with a bit of air and temperature you get to witness the fire power of this fully armed and operational wine bottle. I give the order to the personnel to fire at will and, oh yes, they keep firing.
Given that the aim is a bit weak when having one and the same wine to each dish I also order an open wine to each dish to be picked by the sommelier.
To make sure I stay quiet until the first dish arrives I get besides the wine bottle a bowl containing veal loin cooked in rosemary milk with bean cassoulet, bean espuma and orange granité. This dish is a perfect statement for the kitchen where Christian matches different structures and temperatures on the same plate. For this to work it is quite important that a little piece of everything is present on the fork when it goes into the mouth. In this particular combo the one part that acts as a bridge for the rest is the orange granité having sweetness and acidity to match the other components.
First out in the actual menu is
Tuna with Shiitake, Wasabi and Sesame
A more complete description would be to say tuna quickly fried on two sides, shiitake jelly, wasabi ice-cream and dip, sesame cake (German cake called Taler, no better translation was found) and sesame foam. A modern version of classical Japanese food in other words.
Ready for battle we have the afore mentioned Pichler versus a fellow countryman 2009 Riesling vom Urgestein (Schloss Gobelsburg), Kamptal
. This is the best ’09 I have tasted so far. Nice character of Riesling and a lovely balance. To the food the experience is that the wine is slightly too fruity which is surprising considering the vintage. The Pichler on the other side is deemed to lack a bit of fruit and turning acidic. Winner on points is Gobelsburg.
Scallops with Pumpkin, Beetroot and Meaux Mustard
This was really delicious! The pumpkin mousseline, the mustard ice-cream and the chips of mussel form a very harmonic combination. The only “problem” with the dish is that there is too little of the scallops, it is not enough to match the amount of garnishes.
The challenger this time is 2007 Enate Chardonnay barrique (Viñedos y Crianzas del Alto Aragon), Somontano, Spain
. Good construction with a strong oak flavor. The fruit is however solid enough to handle the roasted wood and deliver an elegance to the wine. Long after taste of the roasted flavors. Pichler does not work particularly well. Winner on TKO is Enate.
Norway Lobster (havskräfta; Kaisergranat) with Lentils and Grapefruit
Not much to add to the description, what you see is what you get. I find the dish to be a bit too sweet and there was one piece of the grapefruit that was somewhat oversized that delivered a spike of bitterness in the taste.
The contender this time is 2007 Chablis "Champs Royaux" (William Fevre)
. Neutral nose and anonymous taste but wow does this work well with the food! The combination pulls out a fruitiness of the wine like a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Where was this fruit hiding?!? Pichler tries but has to throw in the towel early in round one.
Turbot with White Truffle, Jerusalem Artichoke (jordärtskocka; Topinambur) and Nut Butter
The smell! Oh, the smell from this dish! The smell of white Alba truffle is hanging like the London fog around the plate. I take a bite and the first thing that goes through my mind is “Where the hell did the truffle go?”. The parsley mousseline is so intense that it totally covers the truffle. Here Christian should choose: parsley or truffle. It is like two prima donnas that are competing for the attention.
To a dish with such intense flavors the wine has to either be a powerhouse itself or accept playing the second violin. The choice by the sommelier was a second violin in the form of 2009 Cuvée Blanc “Chardignon” (Weingut Donatsch), Graubünden, Switzerland
. The name gives away that it is a mix of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and this is also a good description of what it tastes like. Works well in the background behind the food. Pichler tries to play as the first violin but gets knocked out. Winner is Chardignon.
As a preparation for the main dish I get a bowl containing ice-cream of sheep cheese, pear compote and pear brioche. This is like a street fight between Mike Tyson and Stephen Hawking: quite unfair. The ice-cream is massively dominating the flavors.
Arriving at the main dish we have
Pigeon with Black Salsify (svartrot; Schwarzwurzel), Litchi and Pink Pepper
As can be seen it looks like there is not much food on this plate. Well, truth to be told this is not usually served as a main course and I of course forgot to take the photo before eating half of my food. I was therefore offered to go into the kitchen and take a photo of the regularly sized dish. You will have to imagine a dish twice the size arriving at my table.
Works well as a main course, lots of flavors and structures to play around with.
Here we move in to red territory 2008 Sió (Bodegas Ribas), Mallorca
. The wine contains Manto Negro, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and considering this grape mix I was expecting a powerful wine but to my surprise it is very refreshing and feminine. Wine never seizes to surprise me… Pichler left walkover.
The suggest dessert on the menu was
Sour Cherries, Salty Caramel and Popcorn
I will let the image speak for itself… And yes, the popcorn was very nice and crispy.
To the coffee I ordered what is presented as a dessert
Of course there is an ice-cream present. The question is if the ice-cream machine is Christian’s latest toy and hence a lot of ice-cream gets made. Or is it so that Christian had a strict mother that did not let him eat as much ice-cream as he wanted when he was a kid and now he is compensating..? ;D Well, the various ice-creams are really, really delicious so I am not complaining.
To the coffee I also had a chocolate liqueur and as can be seen on the glass the fluid was thick as melted chocolate. Is anyone talking about using the tears in the glass as quality measure…?
A couple of reflections.
This is the first year Christian is the boss in the kitchen and Rigiblick Spice has been awarded 16 points in Gault Millau 2011 (and one star by Michelin). It however feels like 17 would be easy to justify. Could it be that GM has only been there once early in the year and that Christian has now filled the shoes better? Or could it be that GM wants to see where this goes before awarding higher notes? Or could it be that the dude from GM was pretty sloshed at the end of the dinner, I have seen some very strange notes from GM before…
Also it is interesting to check out the wines to the food. A person with a good memory remembers the question “what can go wrong?” regarding the Pichler wine. Well, as we have seen pretty much everything. The Pichler wine is without a doubt the wine of the highest quality of the evening. And still it did not come out as number one in any single head to head competition to match the food. Conclusion is of course that if possible the single glass option should be chosen unless you are a company big enough to take in full bottles to each course.
And as a final hot tip: the bistro is open on Sundays. As far as I know you will not eat better on a Sunday in Zürich.