Sowgandhika Krishnan, together with her friend, Tripti Abhijatha, traipsed along on a hot and humid Friday evening for an Indian meal, and Restaurant Swaad it was!
As you walk along Uetlibergstrasse, the nondescript orange building and the humble ‘Restaurant Swaad’ banner do not attract the eye, but on the inside, the restaurant tells a different story – a lip-smacking food experience that leaves you wanting more.
The bright blue chest of drawers at the entrance, the lovely collection of Buddhas on the special shelf, and the well-selected row of Jharoka paintings on the walls spoke of a completely different world within the orange building. Greeted by the soft-spoken and demure Amandeep Kaur with Swaad masala lemon wasser, which came as a relief in the hot weather, our evening couldn’t have started better.
A few groups who were busy ‘meeting up’ at the nearby tables and a couple of other diners kept our hosts on their feet, and that gave us a lot of time to look around the place and the menu, click pics and relish the starters.
Food and Drinks – What we liked and would order again
First up on offer in the starters was dahi bhalla, followed by a combo of Samosa (a popular Swiss favorite), aloo tikki and dal vada. Our pecking order was: Samosa first (yes! We are becoming truly Swiss), aloo tikki and dahi bhalla next, followed by the dal vada.
Swaad had a happy hour offer on for two weeks, and we tried some of their in-house drinks (recipes put together by their team). The Swaad Mix (Prosecco with mango juice) is a well-thought-through take on the mango and we think it is an absolute must-try. Little India – a mix of lychee wine, Campari, and lemon juice came next. After the Lemonwasser and the Swaad Mix, this one was a slight letdown. A hint of sweet somewhere in this drink would have it top the drinks chart. Then came drink de résistance (apologies to the French), the Swaad Twist – a mix of ginger, bell pepper, vodka, sprite, and lemon juice. Whoever in the team thought of this combination of ingredients deserves a round of applause. Refreshingly different, nice on the taste buds, spicy-sweet, with the right mix of vodka, this one tops our list of must-try.
We got to know a little more about our hosts over starters and drinks and what wonderful people they are! Harbinder Singh is someone I would call a ‘serial restaurateur’, having previously started and run restaurants like Restaurant Bahnhof Wetzikon, Korma Sutra, and Tandoor House Seebach (jointly owned formerly), and then sold them to settle for the humble Restaurant Swaad and Alpine Palace in Rumlang. Amandeep Kaur gave up her job as a pharmacist to join her husband Harbinder Singh in the restaurant business. Known for the buffet lunches they offer daily to cater to the office areas nearby and their catering orders, their love for cooking and feeding hungry souls like us is evident.
The feeling of being fussed over and lovingly fed at a warm and cosy Punjabi home rather than a restaurant was amplified in our main course. On offer were paneer palak, malai kofta, dal makhani, rice, garlic naan, and some chole bhature. The palak paneer and the dal makhani had this ‘smoked’ taste, as though they were cooked on a traditional wooden stove (chulha), rather than on a modern gas or electric stove. Full marks on getting that authentic taste right. It took our food experience several notches higher. The chole and the bhatura were extremely well made. I am normally not a chole bhature fan but I loved it and will happily have it again. The food was light on the stomach, not greasy, and just right on spice. The malai kofta with its sweet tinge is a perfect choice for a non-Indian customer wanting a vegetarian option with milder spice levels. The restaurant offers to modify spice levels on request. For those wanting to try meat varieties the restaurant is known for chicken tikka, rogan josh, and Goan fish curry.
In keeping with the mango season, we went for mango mastani (listed as a shake on the menu) as our dessert for the evening. We opted for this over the Kulfi, and the gajar halwa. It was one heavenly dessert, and we definitely recommend it over other options. We closed our evening with the soothing Ayurvedic kadha tea (comes sans milk and is a good alternative to masala chai) and some more conversation.
We ask Harbinder Singh what is that one most important thing he has learnt over all these years in the restaurant business? “Quality”, he replies without batting an eyelid. “Quality brings repeat customers, happy customers, and builds business”. As we speak of Covid and the slow opening up of eating places, we learn the restaurant has provided lunch boxes everyday via the “too good to go” app for the Covid hit. To quote Yotam Ottolenghi, ‘Food can bring people together in a way nothing else could’! So what are the favorite dishes of the man who loves to feed others? Lamm Masala and the vegetarian bhindi kadai masala, he replies with a childlike smile.
As we drive back home, one thing that strikes both of us is that the restaurant lives up to its name in every way – It gives you a taste of Indian food as well as a taste of hospitality and service. Swaad gives a taste of India and does it Dil Se!
Amenities and Accessibility
The restaurant has high chairs, and parking is available for patrons. However, there are limitations to wheelchair accessibility. The restaurant is easily accessible from the Zurich HB (main station) and from Sihlcity, via trams.
Opening Times: Mon to Fri: 11 hrs to 14 hrs and 17.30 hrs to 22.30 hrs, daily buffet from 11 hrs to 14 hrs
Location: Uetlibergstrasse 166, 8045
Photo Credit: Tripti Abhijatha & Sowgandhika Krishnan
Disclaimer: Namaste Switzerland was invited to review this restaurant. The meal was complimentary. Opinions expressed belong solely to the content provider. Namaste Switzerland does not undertake any financial/reputational/legal/misrepresentational impact or other obligations/liabilities that may arise from the content.