Zurich has a reputation for being quite expensive, that’s nothing new. For example, at 4.00+ CHF, a run-of-the-mill espresso costs 4X as much as it does in Italy and more than 2X the price you’d pay for an espresso in Munich. To my knowledge, the word “cheap” doesn’t exist in Swiss lexica.
I hadn’t been to Zurich for about a year and was getting the itch so I decided to call my friend Christoph (Pichler) and ask what was new and exciting with the city’s eclectic culinary offering. Within 30 seconds I realised I couldn’t get there quick enough. So I loaded up my bike a few days later and headed out.
Christoph (Instagram: @christoph_pichler) has been in the fine wine game for over a decade and I met him during my Zurich stint. He’s the Fine Wine Director at Smith & Smith Wine Company, Zurich’s most progressive wine wholesaler and retailer. What I liked about him right away is the fact that he‘s a high-level wine freak but without the snob factor – he deals with wines at the highest echelons but talks about it with authentic passion rather than it coming across like simple name dropping and high snobiety.
When I’m in Zurich I prefer to concentrate on things which offer a unique experience in order to somehow give me some sense of value and tame the price shock. I had the opportunity to live in Zurich for a few months back in 2012 during an important phase of large corporate re-design and multimedia project I was hired for. And Zurich has a lot to offer. I love the city and people. And considering it’s only a few hours away from Munich, I try to get back as often as I can.
In addition to being a fine wine professional, Christoph is an avid outdoorsman (fly fisherman/mushroom hunter/urban cyclist) and bread-baking savant. Want to hear someone geek out on yeasts, dough fermentation and other things re: baking I have absolutely no idea about? Christoph is your guy. I’m still trying to get him to admit that he heads the Confrerie Du Pain Au Levain (The Brethren Of The Sourdough Loaf) but he says it doesn’t exist. They say the same thing about the Illuminati. Hhhhmmmm, I just don’t buy it. But I digress…
Cycling in Zurich, and Switzerland in general, is very widespread and many people commute with their bike on a daily basis. In my experience, a lot of the bike paths are close to or criss-cross traffic lanes. So unless you feel secure riding in or in close-proximity to traffic, it may not be a bad idea to walk or take the tram while discovering the city. But when it comes urban commutes, Zurich is definitely not Milan (where it helps to have three more sets of eyes and the twitch reaction time of a 20 year old professional gamer).
Our tour started in Binz, to be more specific, at Smith & Smith HQ where Christoph works and also happens to be the location of their retail wine shop (which predominantly sells wines you don’t have to re-mortgage your house for – not that the above photos give off the impression S&S only sells blue chip wines). And located right next door is Smith & De Luma, a gastro partner-project between the wine company and the well-known steakhouse specialists.
Binz is located in the Wiedikon district of Zurich (just slightly south-west of the city centre – District 1) and not long ago was regarded as a cement jungle with old industrial buildings. However, in recent years, “The Binz” has evolved more and more into a vibrant urban oasis with great gastro concepts and has become an insider tip.Smith & Deluma is no exception: the level of quality in regards to the food & bev, the spot-on modern-industrial and inviting atmosphere, and friendly service speak for themselves. A restaurant and steakhouse with high-grade beef and a deep wine list to back it up. S&D is definitely at the forefront of Binz’s evolving character and a crowd favourite in the quarter.
After Christoph gave me a tour of the S&S headquarters, we primed ourselves for the tour ahead with a glass of handcrafted cider (Cidrerie du Vulcain), which was opened in a spectacular fashion by G.M. Mark Müller.Afterwards I received a quick run-down of our planned tour that day:
1. Zurich’s hottest coffee shop, aptly named COFFEE
2. FORK & BOTTLE, Zurich’s first craft beer specialists
3. A Michelin Star Lunch at Fabian Spiquel’s MAISON MANESSE
4. A quick stop at THE ARTISAN, an urban garden concept restaurant
5. Followed by an aperitivo with Alexander HELLBERG
6. Next on the list was the hottest Burgundy temple in the city: LE MUSIGNY
7. And closing with a late dinner in one of Zurich’s hottest restaurants: GAMPER
8. And just as we were about to begin our ride, I was pleasantly surprised to see a bike shop located next door to Smith & Smith, or better said, a bicycle frame-builder… WIM KOLB. So first things first…
Enjoy the Zurich series and feel free to offer feedback or suggestions in the comments section below. Ride safe, ride ON, ride far and drink slow.
Smith & Deluma Restaurant and Steakhouse and the Smith & Smith Wine Shop contact info:
8045 Zurich (Binz)
+41 (0)44 515 55 96 – wine shop
+41 (0)43 333 04 53 – steakhouse
Note: Since Christoph and I were zig-zagging quite a bit and I don’t expect anyone will follow the route establishment for establishment in a single ride (we were literally on the go for twelve hours – from 10:00AM to 10:00PM), I didn’t see the point in adding the map & track of our tour.
But here is a google map overview of the individual locations:
I have also added a few links to easy and intermediate level tour suggestions within close proximity to the city centre (KOMOOT maps). If those aren’t to your liking there are many more on the the website.