2017/10/18

Review of Restaurant Einstein (“new”), Aarau/Switzerland

Location

Hippest dining spot in town with a unique food concept

Restaurant Einstein under the old management (see my review) had been the favorite dining spot of our family in Aarau for more than ten years. In August 2016, a new tenant took over, Thommen Gastronomie AG – a family-owned company running a couple of restaurants in the region of Olten and Aarau. I was skeptical about this development as
this restaurant group had not been known for upscale gastronomy up to that point, but I was ready to give them a chance to prove me wrong.


Some introductory comments

Here you find the review of Einstein as it presents itself now after having launched a new concept as from May 2017. There is no information as to the restaurant’s development over the years or considerations behind the introduction of this new approach. In a separate outline, I go more into these details and give the present (dinner) concept some more thought.

Location/Ambiance

I will not dwell on this as I already described the dining spot in my first review. I restrict myself on having a look at things that underwent a change.

One important alteration was taken by dividing the large room in different parts so the “noise” of the bar-goers does not spill over to the dining area any more. This modification lessens maybe the modern urban touch of the restaurant a bit but contributes to a quieter atmosphere in the dining room.
Another apparent thing is the casual fine dining approach that was taken even further. The white table runners and the shiny tables are gone; now you find matt bare tables here. I like the new look, nothing distracts from the food in such a way!

The outdoor area was changed too, a (public) square was constructed called “Einstein Platz”, a nice and useful addition. People can meet here, have a drink and some small bites from the Einstein Food Truck, but without being forced to consummate something, a nice touch!

What finally caught my attention was the number of guests on a Saturday evening or better the lack of them. A good ambiance usually comes along with sufficient other diners. When we were here, the restaurant was only occupied by a quarter. I never had experienced this at the Einstein before!

Food concept

In terms of cuisine, fresh and high-quality ingredients, whenever possible locally sourced, are used to prepare light and innovative dishes. The chef, Mario Noetzli, lets himself inspire by modern, urban tendencies. After an apprenticeship with a well-known local fine dining restaurant, Baeren Suhr (see my review), he worked at different renowned places such as Hotel Kulm in St. Moritz, Restaurant Mosimann in London and Widder in Zurich. The chef and his team put emphasis on the fact that everything is homemade at Einstein – from sauces to tofu. Sweetness, sourness and a lot of herbs are used to create new taste experiences.

For dinner, there is a sole four-course surprise menu on offer, also in a vegetarian or vegan version. The staff asks about possible intolerances and dislikes and then you will be surprised with four dishes.

A special approach was also chosen for lunchtime. Here, three courses are served at the same time: a salad, a soup shot and a main dish, a premium menu is also available.

Four-course dinner

When my husband and I tried out the four-course surprise menu, we were served the following four-course surprise menu.

As a first dish, we got a flavorful goat cheese variation. A goat cheese praline coated in quinoa balanced on top of apple chutney. It was accompanied by goat cheese espuma, sprouts with citrus dressing and a rice and apple chip. All ingredients blended just nicely and resulted in a beautiful creation.
The menu was continued with an excellent pasta dish. Homemade ravioli with a paper-thin dough and filled with veal breast were cooked to perfection and served alongside sage butter and cherry tomatoes, a heavenly delight!
We proceeded with roast duck breast “au jus” as main dish. It harmonized wonderfully with its accompaniments, Camargue rice with Lapsang Souchong Tea, bell pepper sauce and physalis. I was pleasantly surprised how the slightly bitter, sweet and sour flavors together were a great match! While the duck was scrumptious, it lacked unfortunately in tenderness, but that was the only slip …
The dinner ended just as it started, with a variation. This time, the major player was fig, in the form of ice cream made from leaves, muffin, meringue and sauce. This was completed with fresh and preserved figs as well as dots of vanilla custard. This dish provided plenty excitement to our tastebuds and was the perfect example to demonstrate how far you can go with a solitary ingredient!

Service/price

Staff is young, friendly and mostly helpful. We had some problems ordering an adequate wine pairing – unaware what was going to be served –, so we asked for advice. Unfortunately, the information we got was a bit misleading. But in the end, we managed to have matching wines to our meal.

When it comes to price, the four-course menu costs 58.50 SFR, the vegetarian and vegan alternatives amount to 52.50 SFR. In view of the level of quality, this is good value for money. In this context, you have of course to consider that the concept of a sole menu helps to reduce costs.

The “three in one” lunch costs 22 to 29 SFR, the premium menu is on offer for 35 to 50 SFR. The mineral water is always included in the price. I cannot judge on that as I have not had the chance yet to try it out.

Overall

I thoroughly loved the culinary experience at Einstein. The cuisine comes with a healthy dose of creativity, in both the preparation and presentation. If you are a lover of modernist, innovative food, then this is your place. The casual chic of the place is still appealing, also without the open room concept. As to prices, you get here very good value. Staff is mostly hospitable and competent.

As far as the new dining concept (sole four-course surprise menu), I am not sure whether the dining concept is well received with previous guests and whether it has enough potential to attract a new clientele. I am also skeptical whether it can be continued without some alterations. I gave Einstein’s current situation some more thought. In case you are interested, have a look at my separate outline.

·       Costs: lunch: “3 in 1” 22 to 29 SFR, “premium menu” 35 to 50 SFR / dinner: 4 course menu SFR 58.50, vegetarian/vegan SFR 52.50
·       Cuisine: casual fine dining, creative & modernist
·       Good to know: only 4-course surprise menu available at dinner
·       Address: Bahnhofstrasse 43, 5000 Aarau, Tel. +41 62 834 40 34, E-Mail info@restauranteinstein.ch

Date of visit: September 2017

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