Basel is best known as an art destination but it’s dining scene is also quite impressive. High-end, fine-dining establishments headed by top chefs rub shoulders with lavish, trendy restaurants offering the best of international cuisines. Take a glimpse at our guide to Basel’s top ten dining establishments.
Patisserie, Restaurant, French
It’s hard to decide on the most tempting thing about Basel’s restaurant Schloss Bottmingen. It could be the impeccable menu of exquisite, classic French dishes, courtesy of Chef de Cuisine Gilles Brunin and Chef de Patisserie Alain Schmidlin, or the strikingly beautiful, dream-like setting in the Bottmingen castle, a medieval mansion surrounded by still waters, and accessed through an elevated walkway. The restaurant’s several indoor dining rooms, each an individual creation, offer a sense of royal grandeur and understated elegance, while its location, the heart of a tranquil, picturesque park, makes Bittmingen an unforgettable fine-dining experience.
Volkshaus combines a brasserie, a bar and a beer garden into one congruous concept. The spacious, light-filled brasserie, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, Switzerland’s most prestigious architecture studio, is an irresistible mixture of green benches, small wooden tables, dangling light bulbs and large mirrors, serving simple but tasty, traditional brasserie fare. In striking contrast to the brasserie, the bar sports a much darker and glamorous design. Last but not least, the beer garden is a romantic, outdoor area, an ideal place to gather with friends for drinks in a leafy setting. Volkshaus also regularly hosts a variety of shows and music concerts, offering yet another reason to visit this very special place in Kleinbasel, the city’s industrial district.
Housed in a historical guildhall, the oldest in Basel, originally built in the early years of the 14th century, Schlüsselzunft is both a bistro and a restaurant, catering to customers looking for a quick but quality meal, and those in search of gourmet dining. Conveniently located in the centre, Schlüsselzunft succeeds in offering its guests well-executed dishes. Try, for example, the homemade ravioli stuffed with garlic, or the black angus filet steak with potato hash browns. Among the unique highlights of the restaurant are the ample, elegant dining room on the first floor and a large furnace coated with ceramic tiles, so richly and finely decorated that it resembles a work of art.
Restaurant Matisse was recently awarded the coveted Michelin star, and those lucky enough to eat here will approve of such a prestigious recognition from the very first bite. Cooking is an art, and the dishes offered at Matisse are masterpieces, creative and surprising combinations of ingredients that reveal unprecedented tastes. The man behind Matisse’s winning cuisine is chef Erik Schroter, and his secret weapon is herb-based. Whether freshly picked, dried, pickled, marinated or dehydrated, herbs and edible flowers are the highlights of Schroter’s haute cuisine; his motto is nature et passion du jardin, which can be loosely translated as ‘nature and passion stem from the garden’.
The name of restaurant Atelier, part of the Teufelhof hotel, mirrors the soul of this quirky place. Atelier is a French word that indicates an artist’s workshop. Just like in the unpredictable, no-rules ambiance of an artist’s studio, as soon as the daily offerings are sold out, Atelier’s chefs come up with a new round of courses to prepare for their guests. The guests, on the other hand, are invited to be creative and put together their own à la carte menus. On one of the restaurant’s walls, moreover, is an intentionally unfinished work of art by a local artist that customers are welcome to contribute to by adding their personal mark. As to the food, the menu presents international dishes, rich in taste and executed with panache.
With two Michelin stars and a star chef, Peter Knogl, Cheval Blanc is a fail safe choice for fine dining in Basel. A dash of Mediterranean flavours juxtaposed onto mountainous Switzerland, Cheval Blanc’s menu tantalises with tempting courses such as the crispy scampi with Madras curry or the Atlantic turbot with broccoli, chorizo and basil. The excellent wine list boasts a selection of bottles from premier French producer Chateau Cheval Blanc. The dining room is, of course, as top-class as the food, but for the full Cheval Blanc experience, have dinner on the outdoor terrace, possibly at night. The view over the Rhine is simply spectacular.
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Restaurant, European, Healthy, $$$
Every year, Basel hosts Art Basel, arguably the world’s most sought- after international art fair. Restaurant Rhywyera blends in with the city’s allure as a top art destination by exhibiting beautiful paintings all over the dining room’s walls, an impressive addition to its otherwise intimate, elegant atmosphere. Dining al fresco is part of the package, and offers a delightful view of the Rhine flowing right by the outdoor terrace. Rhywyera’s cuisine is inspired by the best of French and Italian gastronomy. The menu lists, among others, risotto with artichokes and prawns, an inviting entrecote with jus and vegetables and, for dessert, a glorious Grand Marnier parfait with orange coulis.
The idea behind Blindekuh Basel is a very challenging but fun one. You eat in the dark, and appreciate the food by wholly concentrating on what it’s all about, pure taste. Guests are invited into a dining room completely plunged in darkness, and served by a staff of vision-impaired waiters and waitresses who guide them through the unique experience. The concept is also translated into the ‘surprise menu’, an alternative set of dishes that will leave customers in the dark even about their dining options. A very spacious, airy lounge with a bar and comfortable seats, and a hip, industrial feel awaits guests in the light before or after dinner.
Noohn offers its guests a creative fusion of European and Asian cuisines. In addition to the food, however, the highlight of this trendy spot in Basel is its diversity. It manages to combine several atmospheres under one roof, lavishly designed with a grungy, industrial flair. At the entrance, a comfortable and stylish lounge dotted with cushioned benches and small tables welcomes those waiting for a table or just looking for drinks. Moving forward, the à la carte restaurant awaits Noohn’s customers, but sushi lovers will probably go for the adjoining sushi bar instead, and enjoy the view of the chefs preparing rolls, sashimi and other inviting delicacies right in front of them. When the sun is out, the real deal is dining in the outdoor garden restaurant or on the roof terrace, which overlooks the city.
Tibits offers a range of vegetarian options | Courtesy of Tibits
‘As speedy as a fast food joint, and as cosy as corner café’, Tibits is actually a small chain of restaurants serving vegetarian and vegan food exclusively, including delicious, fulfilling and healthy salads, soups, juices and desserts. The venue takes pride in using fresh, regional produce, and constantly updating their selection of over 40 seasonal dishes. And yet, the best thing about this restaurant is the relaxed atmosphere. Spanning two floors, and featuring an overall dark, warming design with a few splashes of colour, Basel’s Tibits is a place where customers can meet with friends and chat some time away in a tranquil, intimate ambiance.