The restaurants have finally reopened and date night is back! Our food writer Hans Georg ‘HG’ Hildebrandt decided to head to the new Falken. This restaurant in Wiedikon is now being run by the former Hardhof team.
It all felt very strange – having dinner with my wife outside the familiarity of our own four walls, without a teenager in sight. Finally being waited on again and enjoying a friendly chat with the restaurant owner. Of course the seating arrangements in the garden of the Falken at Schmiede Wiedikon also felt a little strange. When we booked a table, our host Céline Tschanz warned us the place would be packed, but in fact the coronavirus restrictions meant we had plenty of space. I would actually have been happy to sit in their pleasant, spacious dining room because there’s a lot of traffic noise outside, particularly on the Zurlindenstrasse side. When reserving an outside table, make sure you ask to sit on the Birmensdorferstrasse side.
The Falken has been an inn for more than 400 years.
On a side note, when it comes to eating in enclosed spaces I tend to be a bit slapdash about the coronavirus rules. But I don’t think people should act like everything is back to normal. We should all try to eat out as often as possible, otherwise our diverse restaurant culture is in danger of going under. But we should also try to keep the infection rates as low as possible. We don’t want clusters of infections in our cities, as that could send us straight back into lockdown.
Anyway, going back to the Falken in Wiedikon, the new team enjoys an excellent reputation thanks to the great work they did for so many years at the Hardhof on Albisriederplatz. When it was taken over by Beffa Gastronomie (which also runs the Weisses Kreuz at Stadelhofen and the Aargauerhof on Langstrasse), this cosy restaurant remained largely unchanged apart from updating the menu. The Hardhof continued to serve the meat dishes that reflect the character of Albisrieden (the abattoir is just around the corner), and they are some of the best in the city. The restaurant was serving tongue, kidneys, liver and tripe long before they suddenly became hip again. The team of experts buy their meat from the best suppliers: Holzenhof, Jumi, Heinzer in Muotathal and Zanetti in Val Poschiavo. When I was working for Schweizer Fleisch, I once organised a tripe-tasting evening at the Hardhof. As we wait for our Leberli-Rösti and schnitzel cordon bleu, our friendly host tells us how their years of hard work at Albisriederplatz means that many former regulars have followed them to their new restaurant.
It has been something of a quantum leap for the team from the Hardhof. The large room on the top floor seats 150 guests, while the beautifully furnished dining room seats another 100 and has a pleasantly luxurious feel compared to most other eateries in Zurich that have yet to be given the lounge treatment. The restaurant run by Céline Tschanz and Florian Bobst proudly considers itself one of these, despite the spacious rooms and fine furnishings. The Falken has a long history. It has been serving food and drink for more than 400 years, and the Wiedikon guild was founded here in 1897. In the nineties the restaurant was renamed the Falcone and turned into one of the many faceless ‘Italians’ that you only go to when you’re starving and everywhere else is full.
I dare to predict that once the coronavirus restrictions are over, the Falken in Wiedikon will become one of the most popular restaurants in the whole of Zurich. Even now, there are plenty of restaurants that would envy the Falken for its mixed, non-hipster clientele. Florian Bobst’s cooking is simple and unpretentious while remaining tasty and traditional. As they did at the Hardhof, the Tschanz/Bobst team is offering a limited menu. This means that all the dishes can be freshly prepared from local, seasonal produce.
Florian Bobst’s cooking is unpretentious while remaining tasty.
I think there’s a real demand for this kind of food. It’s authentic, honest and delicious and, above all, very reasonably priced. You won’t find them selling 50-franc schnitzels here. They also offer a well-priced selection of wines from some interesting regions. Wines sold by the glass are actually brought to the table in a bottle, something I remember from eating out in the nineties. ‘Bottle empty’ is of course standard if you order a half-bottle, so the price is higher than expected, but you won’t regret it.
When I visited, the standard of food and service was good, if a little slow. But I blame this on the lockdown, which has upended the routines of many businesses (not only in the restaurant trade). I hope the Falken team continues to have the success they enjoyed at the Hardhof as a result of their hard work and understanding of how to please Zurich’s diners.