A seven-strong EatFIFA delegation, including three debutants, entered the Thursday-night Soho labyrinth to find London’s only Swiss restaurant, St. Moritz.
Nearing its 40th anniversary, the cosy chalet-style Wardour Street stalwart makes an instant impression on arrival – it smells of cheese. Not just a whiff, you understand. Its atmosphere consists of at least 30% Gruyère.
An impressive menu of French, German and Italian-inspired dishes is mere window dressing for the inevitable choice of fondue. The 1970s dinner-party novelty has no fewer than seven variations on the St. Moritz menu, from the standard Neuchateloise to the rather more exotic Chinoise. We plumped for a Moitie-Moitie (a blend of Gruyère and Vacherin cheeses) and the Forestiere (with wild mushrooms) and, in the interests of variety, Emince de Chevreuil – venison in a cranberry cream sauce served with spätzle and red cabbage.
The rich, rich bubbling cheese and unrelenting carbohydrates of bread and new potatoes called for a refreshing beer from St. Moritz’s extensive selection of one.
Fondue is wonderful in theory. In practice, however, it can be an arduous experience. Your whole body radiates Gruyère by the end but, entranced, you find yourself still digging away at the bottom of the pot for la religieuse, the crust of burnt cheese at the bottom of the caquelon. Several rules of fondue etiquette, relating to double-dipping and use of the long forks for anything more than transportation purposes, were summarily broken throughout. The venison dish was notable for its incredible, glossy sauce of port and cranberry, although the spätzle noodles were a tad dry.
With every drop of molten cheese consumed, the concept of figugegl becomes clear: Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luun translates into brilliantly matter-of-fact English as: ’fondue is good and creates a good mood’.
Some persuasion was required to indulge in dessert, but it didn’t disappoint. Palate-cleansing sorbets, Coupe Danemark and some in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound richness of chocolate truffle cake were all just about polished off before the scores were tallied:
Food – 77.9
Drink – 62.1
Service – 76.1
Atmosphere – 73.4
Value for Money – 57.4
Total – 69.38
A solid demonstration of what EatFIFA is all about. A hitherto-untried cuisine, eaten in the only restaurant that can authentically offer it, resulting in full bellies and a bloody good laugh. You couldn’t eat a fondue every night of the week, but there’s no excuse never to try it once. St. Moritz deserves its status as London’s culinary Swiss embassy. Figugegl indeed.