There are only a handful of restaurants in Switzerland that have been awarded with such a high number of Michelin stars and Gault Millau points. One of them is the restaurant Ecco at the hotel Atlantis by Giardino. The Ecco Zurich is the third restaurant among the namesakes in Ascona and St. Moritz, all founded by top chef Rolf Fliegauf. The cuisine of the Ecco captivates through its exceptional aesthetics which express themselves in the accomplished interplay of trenchant, intense and unexpected aromas. While Rolf Fliegauf is responsible for the conceptual design, his former sous-chef, Stefan Heilemann, sets the tone in the kitchen and applies his own personal touch with his tremendous skills.
The Ecco is discreetly located at the back of the first floor and looks very elegant and inviting. The sophisticated interior design of the restaurant, which is kept in light colors, is supported by a lush and beautiful flower arrangement in the middle of the room. This setup makes it look very bright and airy, even if it has only a few seats. In addition to the main room, the Ecco offers a private dining room with a unique view over Zurich, which can be rented for groups up to 12 people. However, the main focus is on the food and the menu really reads like a symphony.
In his creations, Stefan Heilemann takes the guests on a sensory journey and plays with a mixture of virtuosity and taste purism. The so-called Deluxe Menu is available in either 5, 7 or 9 courses. We chose the golden mean with 7 courses and enjoyed the dishes with the matching wines.
The culinary experience started with a welcome from the kitchen with seafood, sorrel and caviar. What a great prelude for our eyes, nose and mouth. A light sea breeze but in all its glory.
It continued with a trilogy of little appetizers, which consisted of sardine with mustard and tarragon, radish with avocado and linseed and crispy duck skin with pointed cabbage and offal cream. A taste sensation with a perfect harmony of acidity, a slight pungency and exotic aromas. Pure taste magic on dainty bites.
Next we were served an amuse bouche with Alaska king crab, curry, carrot and lime. This Amuse came along so beautifully, it could have been served as a main course. Barely surpassable filigree and elegance with an outstanding freshness. This was a fantastic warm up for the upcoming 7 courses.
As first course we were served Balfegó tuna belly with poached Gillardeau oyster, cucumber and yuzu. It came in gorgeous colors and with a familiar visual sophistication. Almost too good to eat. Thank god we ate it, it was excellent.
For the second course, Stefan Heilemann emphasized his preference for Asian cuisine by serving a Norway lobster with cauliflower, seaweed and cilantro. The Norway lobster is supported by Thai flavours, but always remains in the foreground as the main actor of the dish. And he played his part damn well with an excellent product quality.
The third course presented itself as a North Sea cod with artichoke, bottarga and sherry vinegar. And once again we were impressed by the excellent quality of the seafood. Different consistencies are elegantly combined, conjuring up an fantastic and stimulating taste experience. The North Sea cod was soft as butter and the artichoke was crisp, slightly bitter, discreetly sour with an earthy note. The whole thing was underlined by a perfectly balanced sauce, which was a poem.
The fourth course went straight to the point and hit like a bomb. An excellent piece of meat in its pure form, it really doesn't take more to be happy. Japanese Wagyu Entrecôte "Kagoshima", grilled carpaccio, onion and sour cream. Pure, strong and unforgettable.
The fifth course continued with tender meat and taste purism. Canadian bison fillet, palm tree kale, black morels and young garlic. You literally felt the wilderness on your plate. A tangy and hearty seasoning with a great richness of aromas and structure, without penalizing the elegance and pleasantness.
The second last course was now dedicated to desserts. Pumpkin by Stefan Brunner, coconut, ginger and pandan. A sweet temptation and a perfect interplay of taste-dominant components to a great whole. With ginger and pandan as Asian influences, the dish again got an exotic note, which harmonized perfectly with the rest.
The last course turned out to be the fulminant conclusion of the seven course menu. Felchlin "Opus blanc" chocolate, rhubarb, Greek yoghurt and champagne. What a fantastic play of colors. The intense acidity of rhubarb meets finest Greek yoghurt. The champagne gave the dish a pleasant freshness while the sweet, creamy substance of the white chocolate ideally complemented this wonderful dessert.
A sweet farewell and various Friandises like Ecco truffle, praline mandarine or cannelé with tonka bean and passion fruit made this culinary journey an extraordinary experience. A technical and fine motoric masterpiece.
What a feat of Stefan Heilemann and his team. A perfect game with textures and temperatures. Down-to-earth and modest and yet so ambitious and passionate. An outstanding aroma cuisine, which creates unexpected, intense and exciting moments.
Aperitif: France/Champagne/Roses de Jeanne/by Cedric Bouchard/Val Vilanine
First white wine: Austria/Wachau/Graben-Gritsch/Riesling Setzberg Smaragd/2013
Second white wine: France/Burgundy/Clos des Quarts/Pouilly-Fuisse/2014
Red wine: Spain/Madrid/Daniel Gómez Jiménez-Landi Viticultor/Grenache El Reventon/2013
Dessert wine: Austria/Weinviertel/Gruber Röschitz/Trockenbeerenauslese Chardonnay/2015
5 course menu : CHF 190/p.
7 course menu : CHF 220/p.
9 course menu : CHF 240/p.
Wine accompaniment (7 course menu): CHF 95/p.
Hotel Atlantis by Giardino
Tel: +41 44 456 55 33
Website : www.atlantisbygiardino.ch/ecco