If you want the skinny on good places to eat in and around Basel, you have a number of options at your fingertips. First, natch, there’s the Eating Out: Alsace, Basel and Baden page of this site, which I strive womanfully to keep current, and which attempts (not always successfully) to keep a balance between the various eating possibilities in the three countries on our Dreilaendereck doorstep.
There’s also the Michelin Guide to Switzerland, the Swiss Gault Millau guide and the Guide Bleu Suisse, all of which have entries for Basel. And then there’s Basel Geht Aus, the annually published magazine devoted to good eats, whose 2015 edition was launched at the Kunsthalle on 1st December and which is now on sale at Jens and Franziska Stocker’s brilliant Bider & Tanner, Basel’s best and liveliest bookshop, and in kiosks around town.
The magazine, published only in German (look upon it as a great chance to polish up your gastro-Deutsch), is split into several categories. Thus, if you want high-end eating, you go to the section entitled Grosse Küche für Gourmets in Basel, or (for Alsace and Baden) to the same in Südbaden und im Elsass. If you’re in need of an Italian fix, check out Verführung auf Italienisch and for a bit of Eastern promise (and aromas), head for Wohlgerüche des Orients.
Other sections are distinguished by location: tables beside the Rhine (Tische direct am Rhein), or out in the boonies (Ab ins Grüne); or by character, as in Gemütliche Beizen für Geniesser or Genuss pur in den Quartieren, a roundup of those cosy, nut-brown neighbourhood ‘pubs’ that punctuate Basel’s residential quarters. And for those who just want something safe, not too ambitious price- or foodwise, there are the sections entitled Gut und Bürgerlich or, for more adventurous souls willing to stray over into Baden and Alsace in search of classics, Traditionshaueser in Südbaden und im Elsass. In short, something for everyone.
Monday evening’s event was jointly hosted and catered by the Kunsthalle (Urs Kunz), Rubino (Manuela Buser and Beat Rubitschung), Les Quatre Saisons (Peter Moser) and Feldberg (Elias Buess). Sausages and veal nuggets came from star butchers Grauwiler und Jenzer, and jamon iberico from Casa del Jamon. Wines also had a Spanish flavour, including one of my fave cavas, from Raventos y Blanc, a Rueda from Finca Montepedroso and a Rioja Vina Bujanda, all provided by Casa del Vino Ebinger. Beer from the local microbrewery Unser Bier flowed freely.
Out of the Kunsthalle kitchens came a parade of what in Spain are called raciones (think tapas, but a bit bigger). Standouts for me were from Rubino: a morsel of skrei/Arctic cod wrapped in lardo with Puy lentils, a black risotto with sweet-sharp dried strawberries and peppery-garlicky Belperknolle, and a luscious little mousse of Buttenmost (rosehip puree) smoothed with cream.
Leafing through the 2015 mag, I find plenty of old friends and some new acquaintances, yet to be made. Among the trendsetters flagged up are the tried and tested Coté-Cour in Colmar and the Alte Post in Müllheim. Heading Basel’s top tables are Peter Knogl at the Cheval Blanc and Tanja Grandits at Stucki, while in Baden and Alsace, Douce Steiner (Hirschen, Sulzburg) and Le Maximilien and La Table du Gourmet (Zellenberg and Riquewihr, respectively) all feature. Jay’s gets their vote for the coolest Indian food, and the Krone in Binningen for Thai.
My husband, a Stammgast (regular) at Zur Harmonie, will be delighted at the inclusion of this calves-liver-and-Rösti temple in the neighbourhood-pubs category with super-nice people and friendly service, while I rejoiced to find Au Violon, a little haven of French-ness housed inside Basel’s former prison (the name is slang French for ‘in the slammer’ or ‘in the nick’), still locked inside the pages of Basel Geht Aus.
And those new acquaintances, yet to be made? Among Basel’s trendsetters, I’m looking forward to trying out the Feldberg in Kleinbasel (whose ear-ringed, top-hatted chef also provided some of the launch eats) and Rubino, which used to be called the Luftschloss, downtown just off Baumgasslein. Next time I’m up in Baden’s premier wine-growing region of Kaiserstuhl, I’m heading for the Kellerwirtschaft in Oberbergen. For an Italian treat I’ve earmarked Aroma in Basel and Il Cortile in Mulhouse and I’m keen to give Za Zaa a go, opposite the Unispital on Petersgraben, for a bit of oriental flair.
There’s just one thing that strikes me as bizarre: there’s not a single food photo in the entire magazine, only rather uninspired interiors. For foodie pics – and for other suggestions on where to eat – you’ll just have to revert to Eating Out Alsace, Basel & Baden.
Basel Geht Aus, www.gehtaus.ch, CHF24.50 or €18.80