2016/03/17

Best restaurants in my home town of Olten/Switzerland

Olten as a gourmet Mecca between Zurich, Basle and Berne

This post may be of interest for Swiss in particular as Olten is not a tourist place, sorry folks, but maybe you will be stranding there when you are en route in the area of Zurich, Basle and Berne.



Olten is a small town with about 18,000 inhabitants. Its main asset is its central location in the Swiss Central Plateau. It has a quite nice historic district, but unfortunately only a small one. Have a look at my picture of the old town.

Old town and bridge of Olten


Another asset in my opinion is its quite impressive number of gourmet restaurants. Gault-Millau 2016 (a gourmet guide like Michelin) lists following restaurants for Olten and surroundings in its guide: 
  • Felsenburg 15 points
  • Salmen 13 points
  • Traube 17 points (in Trimbach, 1 km away from Olten)
  • Kreuz 14 points (in Obergoesgen, 5 km away from Olten)
  • Lampart’s 17 points (in Haegendorf, 6 km away from Olten)
  • Hotel Storchen 13 points (in Schoenenwerd, 8 km away from Olten)
  • Sonne 14 points (in Gunzgen, 8 km away from Olten)
  • Bruecke 15 points (in Niedergoesgen, 9 km away from Olten)
  • Gasthof Kreuz 15 points (in Egerkingen, 9 km away from Olten) 

When checking TripAdvisor for Olten only (no surroundings) you get the following ranking of – what I consider as – gourmet restaurants:
  • Felsenburg #1
  • Terminus #2
  • National #3
  • Salmen #5
  • Schlosserei Genussfabrik #9     

As you can see, “Felsenburg” and Salmen” are listed in both guides. The Gault-Millau restaurants in the neighbourhood of Olten top the TripAdvisor rankings in the respective villages (if listed at all).

I have categorized the gourmet restaurants in Olten and surroundings as follows:

Top restaurants

When you are looking for top chefs with a sublime cuisine, then you have to go to Lampart’s and to Traube. I have been to both restaurants several times, but not recently. Because of that, I will not make individual reviews of these ones. But I do not want to hide my impressions of these establishments from you.

First to the Traube: the chef really is a culinary artist, but if you do not want to have the menu – reasonably priced, 145 CHF for 7 courses –, it is not easy there. Twice, we had problems when we “only” wanted to have three courses from the a la carte menu. Once, when we ordered the main course from the menu as indicated on the a la carte menu, we were told that we would not have enough to eat! Go only there when you want to stick to the menu, otherwise let it be.

Then to Lampart’s: the chef is – as the one of the Traube – a master of his craft. When I remember correctly, there are different menus and some a la carte dishes. What I criticize is, that you do not find the menus on the restaurant’s website. You have no idea what to expect when going there. They are not in keeping with the times! Pricewise, you have to dig deep into your pocket. What I found out when researching is that the “regular” menu (5 courses) costs 175 CHF, the signature one (13 courses) 295 CHF. This does not seem to be a lot of money in Zurich or Geneva, but we are here in a village close to the small provincial town of Olten!

Innovative restaurants with contemporary cuisine

Following restaurants fall under this category, of course always in my opinion:
  • Bruecke, Niedergoesgen
  • Terminus
  • National
  • Schlosserei Genussfabrik

Restaurant Terminus

I will make individual reviews of most of these restaurants later on, but let me say a few words about them at this moment. Bruecke is a well-run restaurant offering innovative and traditional dishes equally. Terminus is at the moment my favorite restaurant in town offering only an a la carte menu with some really inventive dishes (not exclusively, you also will find classics). The chef of National is the former one of “Terminus” and has a rather minimalist approach, he does not have a menu, only a blackboard indicating today’s offerings (some innovative, other traditional). The chef of Schlosserei Genussfabrik has changed not a long time ago, I have not yet tried the cuisine of the new one; you normally choose dishes there from the varied a la carte menu.



Classic restaurants with modern touches

This category includes restaurants offering classic cuisine keeping up with contemporary influences:
  • Felsenburg
  • Salmen
  • Kreuz, Obergoesgen
  • Hotel Storchen, Schoenenwerd
  • Sonne, Gunzgen
  • Gasthof Kreuz, Egerkingen   

Restaurant Felsenburg

Individual reviews of most of these restaurants will follow at a later point of time. Here only a few short remarks to them. Felsenburg is my all time favorite restaurant in my region over time. As I mentioned above, I am a huge fan of Terminus at the moment, but it still has to be confirmed over time. I cannot imagine that my enthusiasm for Felsenburg will decrease, I have been a regular at this great restaurant for over 30 years! On the a la carte menu (no separate menu) you find haute Italian dishes, sometimes with influences from the French cuisine. More to it later!

All the other restaurants of this category (Salmen, Kreuz in Obergoesgen, Hotel Storchen in Schoenenwerd, Sonne in Gunzgen, Gasthof Kreuz in Egerkingen) are known for a refined cuisine that is more on the traditional side, but always with an innovative twist, and this mostly at reasonable prices. All of them have menus and a la carte menus. The most creative chef is probably the one at Sonne in Gunzgen, the highest prices under this category you find at Kreuz in Egerkingen (5 courses for CFR 125).

As you have noted, I covered in my review restaurants in the region of Olten that I consider as gourmet restaurants. Should you be more into restaurants with hearty cuisine I have nonetheless a recommendation. Above all, I would point out Fluegelrad in Olten. This restaurant - where the well-known Swiss writer Alex Capus has a share in it - offers dishes with fresh ingredients prepared in a skillful manner.

You see, Olten as a town may not have that many merits, but the culinary scene there and in its surroundings is thriving!

Planned next posts 

Forthcoming posts will cover – as mentioned above – restaurant reviews for Olten. Then I have to work off hotel reviews concerning my trips in 2014 and 2015; this concerns Bali, Valencia, New England, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapur/Borneo and Mauritius/Dubai. Finally, my trips to Lisbon and to NYC/New Orleans/Florida Panhandle/Saint Augustine/Miami are coming up. Quite a lot to do for me! Come back and have a look. In case you have questions or comments, I am happy to answer resp. to hear them.

2 comments:

  1. You won't find a better hamburger in all of Switzerland than Restaurant Rathskeller!
    Also had wonderful meals at Hotel Taverne zum Kreuz while vacationing last year!

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  2. Thank you for pointing that out. You are right, the hamburgers in the "Rathskeller" are really great and the restaurant "Taverne zum Kreuz" offers good, but rather traditional fare. I miss a certain modern touch with both restaurants.

    ReplyDelete