In an unusual twist, Zurich’s swanky Rive Gauche restaurant is showcasing vegetarian food for the next two weeks. The restaurant, known for its succulent meat dishes, has created an exciting vegetarian menu for its contribution to this year’s Food Zurich festival. And it’s not just any old vegetarian food, Rive Gauche invited one of the world’s top vegan chefs – Tal Ronnen from Crossroads in L.A. – to devise a delicious tasting menu for the brasserie. As a special treat, Ronnen himself will be in the RG kitchen during the first week of Food Zurich, working alongside Rive’s head chef Olivier Rais.
Time Out Switzerland got a taste of Tal’s food today and we were well impressed. Definitely a step beyond Hiltl and Tibits (although we love them too) – Ronnen’s food takes vegan into the realms of haute cuisine.
Perhaps one of Ronnen’s most impressive achievements is his vegan cheese, produced by Kite Hill in California. The cheese is made from almond milk -- Ronnen told us his team tested no fewer than 27 different varieties to find one with the right levels of protein – and was created in consultation with French cheesemaker Jean Prevot, so it’s the real deal. (Although, according to Baur au Lac general manager Wilhelm Luxem, the kitchen ran into some Swiss bureaucracy when trying to import it, as the local authorities regard all “cheese” as being made from animal’s milk!)
We tasted a selection of Kite Hill cheeses on their own; it also featured in the luscious agnolotti with sundried tomatoes and almond-ricotta. A steinpilz (porcini mushroom) risotto using Kite Hill aged parmesan was spot on as well.
Other flourishes included the vegan “oyster” made using artichoke, oyster mushroom and seaweed to add the requisite ocean tang. And a chocolate mousse made with avocado. Assuming you like avocado. But what vegan doesn’t? A special mention also goes to a seasonal pumpkin soup with harissa-roasted pumpkin seeds which was far and away the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever tasted.
There are two tasting menus: “Tal’s menu” (CHF125) is all-vegan while “Olivier’s menu” (CHF155) features salmon carpaccio and steak. Dishes are also available a la carte.
Crossroads Meats our Veggies is at Rive Gauche, Talstrasse 1, 8001 Zurich. From today until September 17.