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Cantinetta Antinori

Cantinetta Antinori

Augustinergasse 25
CH-8001
Zurich

(Also Firenze and Wien)

Tel.: +41 (0) 12117210
Fax.: +41 (0) 12211613

25th November 2002

Once again on business, I have a few hours to kill in the evening. I buy a 24 hour tram pass, but decide to walk part of the way from the hotel (in the industrial quarter - someone will get an ear-bending for that!!) to the old city. Its fairly mild, but trying to rain, so after a kilometer or so, I jump on one of the frequent trams and get off just past the main station at Bahnhopf Quai.

I walk down as far as the lake and double back along Bahnhopfstrasse toward the station. The streets are decked with myriads of Christmas fairy lights. I am looking for a typical Swiss restaurant. I have read up, and checked the internet, but the recommended ones are either off the (my) beaten track, or require reservations. There are a few smaller restaurants on my walkaround, but I never feel comfortable entering an empty restaurant, and many of them were sparsely populated. Others were over-packed, and the remainder looked way too smokey for my taste.

I eventually came across the Cantinetta Antinori, and it looked quite enticing. Nevertheless, I was still looking for something Swiss, so it was some while later when I eventually decided to go in.

The waiters were very good, and found me a table immediately - they made it quite easy for me by speaking Italian (my German is almost non-existent). I noticed that they also spoke German, French and English and I thought I heard one conversing with a couple of diners in Spanish.

The chalked notices above the bar read "Tartuffo", "Ancora Tartuffo" and "Solo Tartuffo" ("Truffles, More Truffles, Only Truffles") I had a small beer to quench my thirst while I perused the menu. A basket of bread was delivered.

The menu of the day was interesting, and the main course of Fillets of Veal with White Truffles was irresistible.

I started with a dish from the a la carte menu: Spaghettini Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino - Spaghetti with oil, garlic and chillies (one of my wife's specialities!). This was al dente, but the amount of garlic in it was, to my mind, a little over the top. Thinking about the atmosphere I would create the following day in my business meeting, I pushed the slivers of garlic to the side of the plate. A good start to the meal.

I watch the other diners - those who were already in when I arrived, those who came in and couldn't get a table, and those who did get a table - including a trio of rather attractive young ladies toting a double bass, sundry other instruments and large bouquets of flowers. The waiters soon tidied the instruments away and led the ladies off to their table.

I knew I couldn't manage a whole bottle of wine to myself, so selected a glass of a rather nice Montepulciano.

The Veal, served with linguini, a creamy sauce, and topped with slivers of truffle, was excellent - I couldn't have asked for more! The amount of truffle was rather more generous than I've come to expect in England.

For dessert, I was nudged in a particular direction by the preponderance of roast chestnut stalls I had seen on the streets: I selected the Spumone di Castagne: Chestnut Mousse. This was very interesting, but not quite to my taste. Funnily, I couldn't really identify the taste of chestnuts.

Finish with an espresso machiato, accompanied by a small dish of Cantuccini - biscuits with almonds.

The bill came to CHF107.60, including their 7.5% VAT, but (contrary to the guides I'd read) did not include service.

At the current exchange rate, the bill was equivalent to 46, and I consider that good value. All in all, considering the food, the ambience and the staff, I can heartily recommend the Cantinella Antinori. Finally, I visited the toilets on the way out. I think it says a lot about a place that eschews paper towels and provides a plentiful supply of high quality cotton hand towels.

Sandro

Eatanddrink Ratings

Cantinella Antinori

Total Score: 84%
Quality: Good
Service: Exceptional
Facilities: Above Average
Ambience: Above Average
Value: Good

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