It has almost become a sort of tradition that I spend my birthday in St. Moritz, so 2010 was on again. The reputation of St. Moritz travels faster than the speed of light, and after being there a few times by now, I’d like to shed some of that light from my experience what to expect, where to go and what to do. (All the pics are here on this Flickr-set, by the way.)
First of all, the skiing slopes are the most awesome I have ever seen, it feels like driving down a 12-lane Autobahn on snow. And so is the view.
The area covered by the lift-pass is huge and there is something for every level of difficulty – I will usually stick to the “red slopes” with my average skiing abilities. In terms of what to expect for foodies up there when skiing, this is what I can share:
Really good, by contrast, is Salastrains where one would also see non skiers hanging out in the sun-chairs who have come from the bottom by car or walking. Food is decent, prices reasonable and the waiter keep in midst of the hectic lunchtime their happy spirit.
- El Paradiso is a platform for plain vanity, even by St. Moritz standards. The owner, his staff and the guests mutually reassure each other how great they find themselves. The waiters are cover-magazine-beauties, the food is poor, the prices astronomic and the attitude fucked up. Once you step in, it is all about that artificially inflated show if you have reserved and how long you would have the table before the next service. Once you order the bill and intend to pay by credit card, you get told that this incurs a surcharge of 3 %. This place has seen me for the last time.
- Poor on a completely different level is the otherwise lovely looking hut of Lej de la Peche. The entire service is completely disorganised, waiters don’t show up at all or if, they forget half of what you ordered. It takes finally 45 minutes to get some pasta. Just bad.
Down in the Dorf (=village) of St. Moritz there is plenty to do and see. During the last three weekends, there is a major happening taking place: The White Turf – the only horse-race in the world on snow, to be more precise, on snow which has been layered on top of the frozen lake.
Opposite above the lake stands majestically the characteristic hotel Badrutt’s Palace, one of the architectural symbols of St. Moritz.
The Bellini in the night bar costs 25 Swiss Francs, but it is a worthwhile investment for people spotting. Unlike El Paradiso, the setting is immaculate, and expect the unexpected: Women on botox, men in blue blazers with golden buttons or, as this, time a group of rich teenage kids most likely from the prestigious and adjacent boarding school of Zuoz having a night out. One couldn’t say that they were behaving badly, but at some point one could tell that they were spoilt brats who got shovelled everything up their arses by their wealthy parents. 16-year old girls in ultra-short mini-skirts and designer bags – as I learned – priced at 3,000 Euro, is devoid of any envy a bit over the top to establish a proper moral compass for life.
One of my consistent favourites for an aperitif is the cosy bar of the Kempinski hotel with a modern fireplace in the middle surrounded by glass.
The service runs like a Swiss clockwork and embodies style, too. At the rate occasion that I order a bottle of champagne, as I did for my birthday, the waiter would put on their white champagne-gloves to serve the bubbly happiness.
Other places to recommend for food:
- Chesa Veglia is a sort of classic with an exquisite restaurant as well as a pizzeria. The selection of wines is abundant. Expect to run into folks like Claudia Schiffer as I did two years ago. Prices-wise rather at the upper scale.
- The Veltinerkeller does a bit more of the rough stuff. A very recommendable highlight are the Pizzocheri (a pasta). Service is super-efficient, almost such, that one tends to tell the waiters to slow down the pace a bit.
- One of my personal highlights is the simple Swiss restaurant Engiadina right at the central square of St. Moritz village. When entering the place, the smell of melted cheese will crawl up your nose, and that’s exactly its speciality: cheese fondue. If I had a wish how to die, it would be drowning in cheese fondue.
Along with some open white wine and a good cherry schnapps for digestion afterwards, there is nothing more the culinary heart can desire.
Last but not least, the greatest discovery in St. Moritz which is still considered something as a secret tip and stands right at the parking of the Signalbahn: La Baracca. Founded some six years ago, it was targeted at ski teachers and other working staff as a place where they could have a decent meal without the high price tab of St. Moritz on it. However, by now the place has evolved into a potpourri of people from all walks of life. Dresscode is whatever, music nicely chosen, the decoration set with personal love to the smallest detail and the food exceptionally good.
There is a changing menu every evening with, say, ten dishes to choose from. But those are done really, really well. Somehow this place reminded me of “Soul Kitchen“, a restaurant of a similar type which is currently the name and subject of a successful German movie.
St. Moritz has lots of stuff to offer from the bottom to the heights – in every sense of the word – but keeps on calling to come back for more.