15th April 2012

Haus Hiltl

Sihlstrasse 28, Zurich, Switzerland

What could a self-service vegetarian restaurant in the land that invented muesli be like? Well, you pick up a tray and wander around trying to choose between dishes of hummus, mung beans, quorn, paneer curry, asparagus in sesame oil, beetroot, cucumber, potatoes, wasabi beans in their pods, carrots, mushrooms and several dozen others, both hot and cold, before taking your tray to a cashier who charges according to weight. Every one of the dishes I tried was fresh, attractively presented and extremely tasty. The restaurant also offers freshly squeezed juices, among them an apple juice bursting with flavour; other juices were of tropical fruits, which must have accumulated a fair few air miles on their way to Switzerland. At lunchtime the place is full of a mixed crowd of students and workers in suits for whom it is obviously a favourite. And despite the restaurant having been founded in 1898, at about the time that Bircher-Benner was perfecting his muesli, there’s not a bowl of moistened oats to be seen.

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