Basel has a bad rep for an uninspiring food scene, but you just have to know where to look! The quality of Swiss produce and food items is excellent, so if you can find the restaurants that know what to do with them then you are in for a culinary treat. Restaurant Rubino is certainly one of those gems (probably my top recommendation at the moment), and the team there only uses organic, local and sustainable ingredients.
Chef Manuela Buser creates daily “surprise” menus – basically a set menu for the day based on whatever is fresh/she decides to make (and I do love restaurants that boldly only offer one set menu). At Rubino you don’t have a choice except if you want vegetarian, meat or fish and then the number of courses (two, three, four or five). We got three courses and couldn’t finish the final dish despite how tasty it was!
Here’s how it works:
- 2-course Menu – 65 CHF* (starter or dessert & main dish)
- 3-course Menu – 83 CHF (starter & main dish & dessert or cheese) (Though my friend Fitzy and I are not big dessert people, so we asked for two starters and a main dish which the maitre d was happy to oblige. Boy, were we happy because the starters were exceptional!)
- 4-course Menu – 98 CHF (2 starters & main dish & dessert or cheese)
- 5-course Menu – 115 CHF (2 starters & main dish & cheese & dessert)
Supplemental wine pairings were essentially 11 CHF a glass.
Now to the food porn.
Amuse bouche (no photo): Their take on “deconstructing” a margherita pizza. Tomato soup in a small glass, bread bite and basil-infused cheese slice on the side.
1st starter: Octopus carpaccio, tuna tartare and trout mousse. I could have eaten two plates it was so wonderful, tasty and light. I have no idea what they did to that octopus, and who would have thought trout mousse would be so delightful?!
2nd starter (this is where our minds were blown, and I will caveat that Fitzy and I are veteran foodies): Risotto in a wine sauce with cherries, topped with cheese from Belp, Switzerland. The cheese was the most incredible creamy, “goat-y” cheese with a pepper coating. The photo doesn’t do the dish justice. The combination of flavors was out. of. this. world! I am even considering going to Belp to search for this cheese (or I could just figure out where they distribute … but where is the fun in that?)
Update: The cheese was a young Belper Knolle, an invention of cheese-maker Herr Glauser. Culture magazine (as in cheese culture …) says, “Belper Knolle is made from raw cow’s milk that has been rolled in a spicy mix of powdered Himalayan salt, local garlic and Oberland pepper.” The young cheeses are not firm and can be used in pasta/risotto dishes, while the aged cheeses are rock hard and impossible to slice – making it suitable for shaving or grating. Thank you to reader sula362 for the suggestion to find out more, and to Fitzy who went back to Rubino with her bf (she called ahead to see if they would offer the dish again and they did!).
2nd Update, and most relevant to fellow Basel residents: I contacted the restaurant about the cheese, and the owner just emailed to tell me it is available in the Glauser cheese shop at the Spalenberg in Basel. Sounds like I know where I’ll be going this weekend 🙂
3rd course: Lamb with green-garlic coating with veggies and mashed potatoes. Very good, but overshadowed by the two starters. We were also already full because we had eaten every last crumb of our previous dishes. Surprisingly (especially for a meat lover like myself), I thought the mixed veggies were the stand-outs of the plate.
Neither of us could finish the final plate. But of course when the waitress brought us each a mini creme brulee (gifts from the kitchen), we somehow managed to finish them. It would not be polite to turn down a gift, right?
We took two wine pairings and they were funky, unusual flavors that paired nicely with the meal.
Fitzy and I were very happy with our yummy meal and the kind staff who obviously took pride in the food and wine of Rubino. Before we left, we were even given tickets to the upcoming Basler Wymärt, a wine fair for smaller wine producers and traders.
I will definitely keep this place on my list for special-treat dinners.
Restaurant Rubino, Luftgässlein 1, 4051 Basel
Phone +41 61 333 77 70
Open Monday-Friday lunch & dinner, Saturday dinner, closed Sunday
http://www.rubino-basel.ch/en (online reservations available)
* One Swiss Franc (CHF) is roughly equal to $1
(Cover photo credit: 9-6)