Schwarzenbach: from 19th century egg seller to the world’s best chocolates under one roof in Zurich

Schwarzenbach in Zurich brings the best of the world’s chocolates under one roof. In Oberdorf, the charming cobbled hill in the old town, the fifth generation of the Schwarzenbach family has shaken the chocolate traditionalists’ palates in the 21st century cosmopolitan Zurich.

Swiss best gourmet shops

Celebrating diversity in the Swiss liberal metropolis

That the Swiss have a penchant for fine chocolate is old news. Yet being open beyond the milk in it and beyond the Linds, Teücherlis, Läderlachs to contemporary local newcomers as well as sensitively selected foreign bean-to-bar craft chocolates, shouts that change is abound in the cantonal federation. The liberal Zurich has transformed itself over the past decade from a stiff banking centre of Switzerland, to the most internationally diverse city in Europe. As of 2022, forty percent of its residents are not Swiss. And as the diversity colours its streets, the dining and cultural scenes got more interesting, so naturally even the most traditional of products, such as Swiss chocolate got a spruce up in a more diverse offering. Just a few years ago my Zürich trips were streamlined to breakfast and snack at Sprüngli, Swiss traditional lunch at Krönnehalle and some ok Asian dinner with cool atmosphere. Hold and below, as if sprung up from the bushes, the ‘Züri’ youth now creates a vibrant plethora of anything you would expect from a worldly city. Liberal and open.

Swiss chocolate

Contemporary Swiss artisan chocolate

The new Swiss brands in the spotlight make their chocolates around Geneva or Zurich in scaled down production quantity, bean-to-bar, fair-trade, vegan, raw, name it.

La Flor is the Züri best it is said. Next to the bars but also the enrobed cocoa nibs, Piedmont hazelnuts and only in best years selected raw whole cocoa beans are extraordinary. I also like Garçoa not for their new age spiritualism on the cosmic packaging, but the content and the graphic shape of their thin bars that just feels perfect in the mouth. The Geneva-based, Orfēve signals your preferred bar by detailed, transparent description of the production of each pure chocolate bar ranging between 70 to 90 percent.

Yet, chocoholics rejoice, the offer is well beyond just Swiss-made!

Swiss chocolate

European chocolate offering

The best of the world’s chocolates now unreservedly found support beyond the Swiss in Zurich. Britain’s best, made by a popular coastal bakery Pump Street chocolates, especially the bread crumbs in dark chocolate bar gets your jaw into shape through some serious crunches, wonderful! Akesson’s for their pure origins of “single plantation” terroir precision is another made-in-Britain star and so are the more widely distributed Original Beans.

Aside from Millésime, Belgian chocolatier sourcing from South America and Mexico (I love their nutty and spicy Criollo bean of Chantugo Cacao 80% bar from Chiapas), there are more Italian than from Belgium additions in the Schwarzenbach chocolate library. From Southern Tyrol, where Austria borders Italy arrived Karuna. Ideal for those liking some fun in their chocolates, adding organic dried sea buckthorn, casis, milk, raspberries, coffee, nuts. From the South comes organic certified Sabadí with the Modica production style, which is not as smooth as the subtly conched chocolates you may be more familiar with, but it has its fans. You should try.

Chocolate ZurichSchwarzenbach chocolate boutique

Back to the cacao roots

More in the bygone times chocolate tradition, from Mexico comes Taza, round shaped more raw tasting chocolates. From South America, the Peruvian Qantu also made in Peru from its own elevated soil.

From Uganda, not just the beans but also manufactured in the country comes the Latitude range.

artisan chocolate bars

Unafraid: heritage meets contemporary tastes

H. Schwarzenbach is an iconic Zurich name known to the discerning locals for its finely selected worldwide gourmandise. In the tiny “colonial waren” as such worldly produce delivering stores used to be called, in-house roasted and freshly ground coffee, loose tea, spices, a wide selection of rice and beans, exotic fruit and nuts from dried persimmon to Thai dragon fruit and jackfruit chips are weighed into elegantly illustrated black and white paper bags upon order. The coffee is hermetically sealed to prevent moisture infiltration. Since 1928 the coffee roastery has operated its machinery to provide caffeine boost for the local discerning intellectuals. From bankers, lawyers to the Zurich university professorship, Schwarzenbach is still a point of indulgent quality reference.

best in Zurich

Schwarzenbach, unlike Sprüngli (brought by the Swiss chocolate giant Lindt) is still a family owned business. Now in the hands of the fifth generation, the deliciousness offering is there most expansive it has ever been. Originally an egg seller from St Gallen, later in 1910 the family bought the old post office at Münstergasse in Zurich. Curiously, the line of inheritance was always male, but the current Heinrich V. has two daughters, so who knows where the H. Schwarzenbach goes next?

The shop on your right used to stock also some of the chocolates, but as the cocoa passion has possessed the family members, there was a need to open a properly dedicated store only to chocolate pleasure. So where now the chocolate and espresso bar is situated used to be the open coffee roastery (now sandwiched between the chocolate boutique and the gourmet store) with a cosy indoor café. While we miss the wooden tables with perfectly brewed cups of coffee, the walls lined with chocolates more than made up for the loss.

coffee roaster in Zurichhot chocolateCoffee in Zurich

Each time I ventured in ever since the silent opening during the pandemic (in the early months of 2021), some new stock seduced me to a purchase. In all sizes, from tiniest squares, though half-bars, to packs of diverse flavours or single origin range of one brand such as the Vietnam-based Marou, but also melted in 65%cocoa Schwarzenbach hot chocolate (the grated dark chocolate bar can be bought for home making) next to the ultra serious sugar-free 100% cocoa powder by La Flor, either steamed with your choice of milk (Oatly barrista satisfies demanding vegans) or water. You can also have an espresso to go or to sit outside if the flimsy Swiss weather allows (when the sun shines though, the city revels!).

Schwarzenbach chocolate boutique Singaporean chocolate brands

Asia has landed in Zurich

Most recent additions were quirky flavours from Singaporean Fossa. How has the chocolate game down over there changed since I spotted the weird durian-flavoured funky chocolate bars there a decade ago (Naive Durian 67% with Bolivian cocoa still on offer at Schwarzenbach next to their other unusual flavours such as Porcini mushrooms and milky sour Kefir). Peanuty, satay sauce flavour with milk chocolate, Chrysanthemum for the China chic, dairy-free oat milk with apple and cinnamon warmth, the radical Salted Egg cereal echoing the Singha breakfast (I did not dare but was told that it is more like a custard than thinking of chocolate omelette) and for the purists like myself 100% Tanzania Kokoa Kamila and 75% Malaysian dark collected by the island’s Semai community. I kept the best for the end, a gift with humour if you dare, the Duck Shit Dancong milk chocolate that is not containing any animal excrements but a fine oolong tea.

Not far, still in Asia, from the Philippine soil came Auro, with added local glazed pili nuts(high fat content similar to macadamias) by Theo & Philo artisan chocolatier, while Krakatoa explores the Indonesian islands mounty from Bali to Sulawesi. I can go on, but even beyond the online store, there are more chocolates sold at the store, so I encourage you to come in person.

gourmet Zurich

My countless visits, with chocolate-infused chats with the lovely ladies led to buying more than I needed, (well I do need to match a broad chocolate library with my books studded study) but also to informative content for my chocolate-loving brain. It is the happy hormone needed for overcast and cold days that I seek for harmony, not the sugar. Schwarzenbach is now my drug store and a spa in one.

Open: Mon – Fri: 9am – 6:30pm; Sat 9am – 5pm

Maison Manesse: a gastronomic point in the most international city of Europe

In the lively vein of the Zurich Hasidic jewish neighborhood, casually, yet with a bright welcome, Maison Manesse treats you to a fun meal in touch with contemporary tastes. A red and green Michelin star for sustainability, the kitchen’s creativity is worth not just the stop, but in the gastronomically still somewhat impoverished Zurich worth traveling across the town as we do frequently. The Austrian chef Fabian Spiquel, a knife and fork tattooed on his arm, cooks tasty, locally sourced, flexible food.

Creative snacksCreative snacks

Maison Manesse is for everyone appreciating sustainably sourced fine meal in a relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant’s flexible menus welcome all dietary restrictions and lifestyle choices — from an incredible wine list, a creative house-made drink program including non-alcoholic concoctions.

Casually rustic, wood meets colourfully painted brass, this popular restaurant is not set along the lake luxury or the hip fourth district bohemia. Just off the highway in the Jewish neighbourhood less than half an hour walk from the compact city centre, Maison Manesse hides behind neon pink doors spawned over with ivy.

Creative vegan snacks at Maison ManesseCreative vegetarian snacks

Flexible and sustainable can work together

The bright name reflects the Manesse Platz in front, but there it ends. While not serving kosher food, local sourcing with sustainability focus their radar, and in so open eco-enthusiasts clap with appraisal. We also appreciate the customer-friendly diversity of the menus.

The MAISON EXPERIENCE comes in four or six VEGETARIAN, PLANT BASED or EVERYTHING mixed plates. This tasting menu is “a collection of the team’s favorite dishes inspired by our relationships with the best local farms and distributors.” On the menu you find the sources for the LAMB: CORTESI SERGIO from Puschlav; CHICKEN: Alpstein; PORK: Naturpark Beverin (Wergenstein) and Zur Chalte Hose (also ANGUS BEEF) in Kusnacht; PIKE PERCH from the Swiss part of LAGO MAGGIORE bordering Italy); SALMON TROUT from Bremgarten or BRÜGGLI in Sattel; EGGS: Hofblum in Samstagern; CHOCOLATE: Zurich-based Flor and Taucherli; POTATOES: Freddy Christiandl and BROAD BEANS by Family Heinrich both from Albulatal; HONEY from WABE3 in Zurich; VEGETABLES and eggs from Steffan Brunner Eichhof in Aarberg.

Water is filtered into reusable bottles. Wine or non-alcoholic pairings are available, but for aperitif the sommelier’s own infused gin collection towering in giant glass jars on the splash-painted bar counter is a must try. Hazelnut with green apple aroma smelled the most intriguing, better on the rocks. Since I like the local Zurich-made Gents tonic with my gin, I sipped on the reputedly the most popular ginger, chili with lemongrass infusion from an ultra wide, long-stem glass. Over festive periods special flavours pop out so watch for them if gin is your thing. I opted for the Hopfenstrasser Rose during the recent Christmas. Sans booze, the house redcurrant water kefir, homemade iced tea, and creative juice blends can spark up your water regime.

best dining in Zurich Maison Manessesummer terrace in Zurichhip Zurich Maison Manesse

Across the Swiss seasons with Maison Manesse

After a few tasting experience menus, we prefer to start with a la carte snacks. The fried yuca chips with truffle mayo were crunchy and thick-cut, the vegan mayo was based on soy cream. More on the fresh side, the romaine lettuce cups stuffed with watermelon, white asparagus and lovage sprinkled with marigold petals in summer. Also pickled kohlrabi rolls and savoury cabbage semolina strudel with chestnuts and cumin this winter were on the lighter side. We also loved the Zucchini, pistachio hummus and wasabi sesame. The Australian chef’s roots reflect in a multi-cultural immersion in one bite. With a white wine aperitif once, the broccoli gruyère balls with quince had a Sicilian whiff of arancini, but with a rich Swiss touch of the cheese and sweet quince jam topping. Another time steamed buns with pulled Swiss grass-grazed beef were served literally on fingertips of a hand sculpture set on the table.

Maison Manesse caters wonderfully to vegetarians and vegans. I usually go here for at least one of the plant-based snacks, because they are so creative and appetizing.

A bag full of daily fresh rye sourdough with whipped buttermilk butter poured over with herb-infused oil lands casually on your wooded tabletop.

Next to those few, small, creatively decadent snack options, there are no starters and mains, just plates, cheese and sweets. If you do not go for the tasting, then it is recommended to get at least three courses.

plant-based Michelin star meal at Maison Manesseplant-based Michelin star mealplant-based Switzerlandvegetarian Zurich

While the menu does change slightly every couple of weeks, it mostly plays with different, intriguing platings of the same dish. It shows how one recipe can look quite differently depending on the current mood in the kitchen. Also a touch up with another ingredient than you had previously  is fun and comforts with familiarity. My husband enjoyed the lightly cured salmon trout. Once served with carrot kimchi and leche de tigre like ceviche marinated in spicy peruvian sauce, the river pink fish instead of the Peruvian corvina (seabass) totally change the taste of the dish. A fish mainstay on the menu, on another occasion a touch of sour freshness with pickles or citrusy zest changed it up.

plant-based Michelin star mealplant-based Michelin star meal

Seasonal vegetables inspire the kitchen team. Winter is about roots from celeriac, jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin to cabbages, but once spring kicks on, the colors on the plate become a rainbow. I always go for at least one plant-based plate at Maison Manesse. A generously sized Radish salad with fried Caesar‘s mushrooms and smoked shiitake freshened up the oily intensity of the rare summer mushrooms. Most of these courses are richer for most of the year. Savoy cabbage, mole, nut crumble and sweet corn cream was sublimely satisfying and delicious. I tasted once my husband’s Chanterelle goulash with quark dumplings and lovage. Like gnocchi, the with dairy-lifted dumplings were rich and the sauce Swiss- intense. The Brussels sprouts, smoked carrot and coconut were not as exciting, but Red cabbage baked in salt crust, porcini, jerusalem artichoke, morels and apple roared my red wine palate.

Still the fish and meat are reasonably sourced. Our favourite meat plate over the years was the organic Swiss Alpstein chicken breast, onion puree and grilled lettuce. Cooked sous-vide, the bird was perfectly soft and the vegetables added just the right rich balance to the light meat.

lake fishreal bread

Michelin-starred Maison Manesse restaurant in ZurichMichelin-starred Maison Manesse restaurant in Zurich

Sometimes we add a Swiss cheese board with chutney, plus an extra slice of the house superb sourdough. Sourced from the best producers and cheese shops in Switzerland (Jumi in Basel Canton, Willi Schmid in the Canton of St. Gallen – Andreas Caminada, Switzerland’s most famous chef currently also sources there). Impressed, we bought the soft, creamy goat Geisseinrolle similar to the Geissenbartli we loved at Maison Manesse and the Jersey Blue at the recommended Tritt Kaserei store in the Viaduct gourmet hall in Zurich the next day.

Michelin dessertsmacarons and fruit jellykase platli

When going for one of the tasting experiences, a pre-dessert of snowy local fruit sorbet freshens your palate up and a trio of sweets pampers in tradition meets contemporary bowls blending frozen, dried, fresh, and creamy textures. Finale of small fruit jellies and changing flavours of macarons zap you sweetly up.

rare ginrare gin

A sensible wine list for every palate

Offering one of the best drink programs in Switzerland, not cultish, but open to great, affordable and premium rare wines, most in ready to drink older vintages, the cellar at Maison Manesse must be the best in Zurich. The reasonably priced wine list pleases like fine connoisseurs (we splurged once on a Mouton Rotschield 1988) and treasure seekers as well as those seeking good value not limited to well-known wine producing regions. Small vignerons, rare gems, and local Swiss Pinot stars (Bachtobel No3 2011, Fromm 2012, Studach 2016) were always in great shape. From Viña Tondonia blanco (this Spanish beauty calls for a sufficient age, so delighted were we with the 2004 vintage), through Hungarian Furmint blend, the Lebanese great Château Musar (we had 2012), Italian biodynamic trailblazer Emidio Pepe (2013) to the shooting star of our favourite French Château Rayas, we travelled on each occasion across the world’s greatest vineyards. By the glass, the bubbles impress anyone serious about sparkling wines, not just the labels. Once, instead of my usual gin apero, I appreciated the organic certified Loire Les Chatainieres from the indigenous Romorantin grape by Herve Villemade. Wine-wise, we never get bored at Maison Manesse and it is the place we often take visiting friends.

best wine list Zurichbest Swiss wines

While the kitchen can take the pace on low gears, especially once it gets busy, the service at Maison Manesse is perhaps the best balanced, friendly cum helpful in Zurich. When it is warm enough (you rarely find “unecological” heaters in Zurich) a shaded terrace on a side across from a supermarket opens up more tables, but we much more prefer the inside ambiance.

Address: Hopfenstrasse 2, 8045 Zürich

Phone: +41 (0) 44 462 01 01

Hours: Lunch & Takeaway: Wed – Fri: 11:45 am – 2pm; Dinner: Wed – Sat from 6pm

KLE elevates plant-based dining in Zurich with a chef trained at the world’s best restaurants

Kle, infuses an international fine dining pedigree into plant-based cuisine in Zurich. Opened and owned by a fearless female chef with Moroccan roots Zineb Hattab, a former engineer who followed her passion to cook. While her restaurant experience is not vegan (the closest to it was Dan Barber’s cauliflower ‘steak’) her work portfolio has the potential to upgrade the plant cuisine in Europe and will take your breath.

Growing up in Catalonia, her culinary journey took a star-studded path by the best kitchens on the Western dining scene. Zizi, as her nickname goes on Instagram, staged at the legendary El Celler de Can Roca, Nerua in the Bilbao, Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena, then the farm-to table Blue Hill and hip Cosme in NYC. In between, at the three Michelin Schloss Schauenstein, she became the right hand to the celebrity Swiss chef Andreas Caminada. We dined at all of these wonderful restaurants, hat down, bellies ready. Becoming vegan herself only recently, Kle was a last minute challenge that nevertheless seems natural to the chef who quit an engineering job to pursue her dream to become a great chef.

Zizi Hattabplant-based Zurich

The vegan state of restaurants

Unlike vegetarian menus popping even at the finest restaurants, vegan is still often associated with fringe cafes. Not until the American Matthew Kenney and Tal Ronen had started revolutionising the animal ingredients-free cuisine, blending their fine dining training, global culinary inspiration and using sustainable local, if possible small farms local produce. 

In Europe, time is ripe to go beyond the caffetteria base of sustainable eating out. Kle has a casual, relaxed vibe in the residential, hip Zurich’s district 3. Her team at Kle is very international, more typical of large fine dining establishments, opening up Zurich dining to a multicultural experience on small, cosy premises. The outside terrace snakes around the corner building for warm weather. After four meals and counting, we tried most of the summer menu.

dining in ZurichMoroccan heritage at Kle Zurich

Colorful, plant-based international inspiration sourced locally at Kle

There must always be the house bread. An indulgent take on traditional Moroccan bread buns, the pillowy coins of semolina are served well oiled with a superb, egg-free aioli whisked with “aqua-fava” (chickpea water), Moroccan spiced hummus and an oil and vinegar blend. The generously seasoned Moroccan pickles, once with radishes and cauliflower, other time red beets and mushrooms start you delectably. The pickles change on the whim which is unpredictably fun.

Sauerklee is an edible leafy plant used by diverse cultures reflective of the culinary concept using local produce while being inspired by global cuisines that the chef Zineb Hattab acquired at the greatest kitchens.

Kle: best brunch in Zurich? You judge.

The weekend brunch is generous. House granola, giant pancakes, cashew cream cheese over warm bagel, but also lighter fare like the refreshing Crunchy salad hearts, garlic, capers, roasted slivered and cracked almonds, slightly spicy horseradish dressing that also made it into dinner menu.

vegan brunchvegan Zurich

The BBQ mushroom sandwich on local bread maestro Paul the Baker’s sourdough was perhaps the best warm sandwich either me and my Philadelphia-born husband have ever had. Most likely healthier than most sandwiches, the juicy sauce leaked into your jaws with each sumptuous bite, heaven! I got a split decadent veggie wrap with falafel which was not stuffed in ball-shapes but mashed in with house coleslaw and an oozing pepper sauce. Both served wrapped in paper so spilling is minimal, and you can take the other half for a hike on nearby Uetliberg.

To sip on, Cafe de Ola, the sweet latin orange-scented coffee brew with Swiss brown sugar (or piloncillo, dried sugar cane juice, in Mexico) or freshly squeezed orange juice are offered for the typical brunch fix. On a hot day I went for a Swiss gin with a Fever Tree tonic pick me up. Sustainability certainly is taken seriously at Kle, so reusable steel straws are offered with drinks. Loose leaf green, strong Chinese black tea, mint infusion and African red rooibos brews are served in a large glass pot. 

plant-based Zurich

As the evenings cool off, the small interior with a bar just to mix drinks is cosy. Intriguingly retro Swiss meets contemporary rustic design. We adored the hanging light bulbs on strings snaking along the ceiling.

Kle is an international, contemporary restaurant using local seasonal produce. Expect some small plates and large enough bowls to share, so it is best to ask the server how big the specific portion is. The dinners can be a four course tasting or a la carte.

The generous Smoked carrot tartare, pickled onions with Swiss-grown quinoa has remained a popular staple of the sharable starter menu. Japanese seasoning adding a smoky depth, the long marinated and gently cooked carrots soak in the flavours like potatoes in traditional mayonnaise potato salad.

vegan Kle Zurich

Local potatoes feature in a superb indulgent main course. The Züri young potatoes, miso mayo, pickled and roasted beets, beet ketchup and radish sprinkled with the sauerklee herb are a must try.

The menu slightly changes every couple of weeks. For example the decadent house dark mole sprinkled with sesame seeds was served with a better fitting green sprouting broccoli in July, while roasted cauliflower accompanied the superb Zizi’z mole in late summer. A refreshing mid-summer gazpacho was as excellent as the best we had in Spain and the Pea, tomato and mushroom ceviche with sunflower seeds was perfect on a balmy summer evening on Zurich’s streets.

food at Kle Zurich

Hesitant, but curious, worth taking the risk was the Mushroom and Jus ragu on a wild blueberries acquarello risotto served recently at Kle. Surprisingly not sweet, a relief, since the wild berries are more sour like pickles or a vinegar. Homemade pasta also step into the changing menu.

The chef’s stage at Enrique Olvera’s Cosme in New York reflects on the menu with some Mexican touches. Since we dined at Cosme countless times, we easily recognised the delectable pool of fine Mexican gourmandise. Kle’s outstanding Tostada topped with peanut salsa macha, herbs and grilled summer vegetables, Zizi’s caramelized mole with pan fried seasonal vegetables I mentioned earlier or the Corn tamal and chile guajillo sauce topped with nut cream will all rock your belly. It is virtually impossible to find such high quality Mexican fare in Europe! Making it all vegan was surely challenging, but I did not miss any cheese, pork or seafood on these delectable Kle creations. We dined at Mexico’s best restaurants and at Enrique Olvera’s Cosme, but this was a summit climbed up on the European soil.

Mexican dishes at KleMexican dishes at Kle

plant-based cuisineVegan Mexican cuisine

Cosme also rings in the dessert of Corn custard, whipped vanilla soy cream topped with airy cardamom chips. Her vegan take on the famous Corn husk meringue at Cosme in New York in this cardamom puffed cloud smartly replaced the egg whites and dairy with luscious flavours. Swiss berries in summer and carrot cake further pop on the sweet menu.

Kle vegan Zurich

Spirits are not the house specialty, but the wine list is themed around natural winemakers’ provisions. International, not huge, but curated towards more biodynamic and organic wines. By the glass as an aperitif Dido, a Spanish organic wine blend from Montsant, once a mass producing region with some great producers injecting more personality into their wines, was refreshing yet deep. We love the volcanic wines from Tenerife. A bottle of the red blend with the typical Listan Negro, smoky deep, but a Pinot-like light, was perfectly suitable for the diverse cuisine at Kle.

Spanish wineorganic Spanish wine

Opened this winter in the most challenging environment for restaurants globally, Kle is yet to withstand the indiscriminate thread of Covid. As an appreciative foodie with an empathy for excellent restaurant employees, I think that it is the duty of us customers to support the best talent there is. Therefore, I encourage any of you dining out these days, please, tip generously (as we do). These teams work hard, wearing masks for your protection which is not comfortable when you sprint around with heavy plates. The same applies to the cooks steaming more into their masks over a hot stove. Ground-breaking restaurants like Kle in Zurich are worth keeping around.

Zweierstrasse 114, Zurich
+41 44 548 14 88

Dinner Wed – Sun: 6 pm – 10 pm
Weekend brunch 11 am – 2 pm

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