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Let's do lunch! In Bern: Restaurant Kirchenfeld

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Lunch: That meal which makes for a lovely break smack in the middle of the day. It's the perfect occasion for an informal business meeting or simply catching up with a friend. And a wonderful opportunity to discover new restaurants and menus!

It's Thursday, 12:30. I've reserved a table for two in the "old" part of the restaurant. It's less noisy and cozier being smaller than the hall on the other side. I feel like I've stepped into a French brasserie in a small town in France. The waiters wear ankle length aprons, there are old style lamps, two 1930's style coat racks await patrons; the tables are wood with wrought iron legs.

 

The establishment fills up quickly. From the waiters' demeanor and body language, I realize there are quite a few regulars enjoying lunch here today. Most just briefly glance at the menu returning it to the waiter with a smile.

My companion and I opt for the Tagesmenu translated Special of the Day: A very common choice at lunchtime in restaurants all around Switzerland. For anywhere between 17 and 25 CHF, one is in general offered a choice of soup or salad as starter and a main course; sometimes only one dish to choose from, sometimes up to four.

A small linen lined silver dish of fresh bread, dark and white, and two carafes of water are brought immediately following our order. And soon thereafter the soup and salad arrive. I chose the carrot soup, which is served in an elegant tureen with ladle. The purée de carrottes is bright orange and velvety, very fitting for the season. I add a bit of salt and pepper to enhance the flavors.

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My friend's salad is fresh and crisp with various shades of leafy greens dressed in balsamic and olive oil, sprinkled with thin batons of yellow and orange carrot and beet matchsticks plus thinly sliced radishes and a small mound of sprouts: Very appetizing.

While we wait for the main course, we take in the atmosphere of this very old establishment. Maurice and Charlotte Rota, who personally greet patrons, have been running it since 1994 having taken over from a previous owner. Not only is Kirchenfeld Restaurant a traditional culinary institution in Bern, some of the staff is also long standing. One member has been with them for 20 years, another 10 years and a handful since 5 years. There is a real sense of "happy family" in the air. If the staff is happy, the customers will surely be happy.

The main course arrives. The waiter remembers who ordered veggie, who meat. The portions are generous but not overwhelming. The mozarella burata is melting inside a wonderful thin yet crunchy encasing of the finest breadcrumbs, fried in oil. It's served atop a medley of grilled zucchini, eggplant and cherry tomatoes. The spoonful of tomato sauce goes well with the dish, but would be better off encircling the golden mound of mozzarella instead of being plopped on top.

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A red wine based mushroom sauce with crunchy croutons gently protect thin slices of beef accompanied by diced fried potatoes and think chunks of perfectly cooked kohlrabi sprinkled with minced parsley. The meat is mouth melting tender. I imagine a large roast cooking for hours on end at a low temperature to gain the soft silky texture I so enjoy. The potatoes are cooked to perfection and salted just right.

Feeling rather full yet tempted, we choose a dessert and share it. This turns out to be one of those times we say, "We should have gone with the chocolate cake." The Swiss style cheesecake (made with quark – French equivalent of fromage blanc) looks really enticing. The thick white layers make one want to dive in and float all afternoon. The white cake base feels dry, the small pieces of cooked fruit are lost to the acidity of the quark which in turn is too "quarky" implying not enough sugar.

We request the bill and an espresso. 77,- CHF. For lunch it is slightly high considering we did not have wine. But this is Switzerland. The service is impeccable, the décor pleasant and the food better than good: Definitely recommendable. Also open for dinner, but the menu and prices are a whole other ball park.

www.kirchenfeld.ch

Thunstrasse 5
3005 Bern
Switzerland

Business Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday
8am – 23:30

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