2016/11/30

Review of Restaurant Beluga, Aarau/Switzerland

Location

Good dining experience in the gourmet part, but some points need improvement

Restaurant Beluga is housed in a building in Aarau’s old town, which accommodated quite a few fine dining spots in the last decades. Not all of them lasted a long time. It is to be hoped that this will be different as far as this restaurant is concerned. I get the impression that Beluga was well received in this small town. This does not come as a surprise as Aarau unfortunately cannot be called a foodies’ heaven.


General

When our family first went to Beluga some two years ago, I made a reservation at this restaurant without mentioning in which part we want to be seated - I was also not asked about it - and it resulted in our being seated not in the area we wanted to be. We would have liked to be in the rear section, the so-called "Pi" (Greek letter), the gourmet part. Never mind, we had a good table and we were able to order from the "Pi"-menu. The second time, we were in the gourmet section and a few months ago, we had dinner with friends in the front area with more traditional cuisine.

Starter: Salmon Tatar with Avocado, Brittle Cookie & Sour Cream


Ambiance/food concept

As mentioned, there are two distinct areas. The front part is the one where they serve more classic dishes (a la carte menu plus a fixed price menu with three courses), but there is also the possibility to order from the gourmet menu. The atmosphere is rather noisy, it is quite dark and there are cramped space conditions. The rear part (“Pi”) is the gourmet section where you can order from two fixed price menus. This part is rather small, there are no windows, but a nicely decorated rear wall.

Interior (front part)

Food experience

The chef is one hell of a talented cook. I knew him already as he used to cook at another hot spot for lovers of fine food, at Restaurant Baeren in Suhr, a neighboring village of Aarau. Here at Beluga he does a good job, but as I think not at the same level he did at the restaurant in Suhr. I have the impression that he deliberately “downsizes” in Aarau, maybe due to economical reasons.

Starter: Salmon Carpaccio


When it comes to our three visits to Beluga I have to say that while we loved our first two dinners when sampling food from the “Pi”-menu (gourmet menu), we were not that satisfied when having dinner at the front part ordering from the “regular” menu last time. Everything was fine, but the quality of the meat was not convincing. Everyone of our party who had a meat dish complained about meat that was not tender enough, something that must not occur!


Main: Veal Escalope with Red Wine Sauce, Baked Potatoes & Asparagus

Sampled food

Two persons out of four ordered the fixed price menu with three courses (salmon carpaccio, veal escalope with red wine sauce, baked potatoes and asparagus as well as a brownie with marinated strawberries and hazelnut ice cream). One of us had salmon tatar with avocado, brittle cookie and sour cream as a starter, filet stroganoff with noodles as a main and coffee ice cream as dessert. Another person opted for spring salad as a starter and grilled salmon, asparagus with cream and fried potatoes as a main. As already said, everyone liked everything except the meat quality.

Main: Beef Stroganoff with Noodles

Staff/price

The manager, who is highly visible, is friendly and attentive. The other staff is amiable and helpful. There is nothing to complain in this regard. On the occasion of our second visit (in the gourmet part), service was efficient until the main course had been served. After this, it became rather slow, we even thought for some time that they had forgotten about us – we were the only guests left in this part.

Main: Grilled Salmon, Asparagus with Cream & Fried Potatoes


As far as prices are concerned, they are quite high albeit not too much so. I am ready to pay for an exquisite dinner, but when doing so I expect that the product quality and the service are impeccable.

Dessert: Brownie with Marinated Strawberries & Hazelnut Ice Cream


All in all, Beluga is a fairly recent addition to Aarau’s restaurant scene –
where recommended fine dining spots are not exactly abundant – with a really talented chef, but performance has to be enhanced with some aspects.

Date of visit: June 2016

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