Ecco is the two star Michelin restaurant in the Hotel Atlantis at the foot of the Uetliberg Mountain. The interior is elegant and an upstairs terrace overlooking some of the grounds is also available for dining. We started on the terrace but threatening rain and the accompanying wind made us move inside after the first set of snacks. That way we got to experience both options – and they were both nice – but inside had an elegance hard to achieve in outdoor dining. Inside the cloth-covered tables are widely spaced and most have a combination of banquette seating and chairs. The room is divided into thirds by large candles on pedestals and the back of the banquette that is topped with lovely flowers that meet glass sticks from the ceiling that form a light fixture. One side of the room’s walls is covered with large paintings that are opposite the wall that is the open part of the kitchen. Another wall looks out onto the terrace and its opposite wall has large windows looking into the hotel.
The menu offers tasting options of 3 to 9 courses with one choice for the meat course. A supplement of caviar was offered for the Japanese Wagyu course. Wine pairings are offered for the 5 to 9 course menus. We chose the 9 course menu, no supplement and ordered our own beverages. Overall it is a nice dining experience but there tends to be too many ingredients on the plate. Service was efficient and pacing started out good but slowed toward the end. A glass of champagne seemed appropriate to start with the snacks and the outdoors.
The first snack was a squid salad on a crispy rye shell. It was seasoned with sour cream and dill with the squid cut into ribbons. It had a nice flavor.
Next was several items at the same time. A poached Gillardeau oyster was large, plump, topped with a crispy chip. It was mixed with yuzu and cucumber and okay. Breast of duck was served on a piece of crispy skin with pointed cabbage and liver cream. It had a slightly sweet sauce and the skin was ultra crisp. It was the best of the bunch – really good. The last was a salmon trout with sweet potato and maracuya. The fish was chunky and good and mixed with other ingredients that contained some crunch for texture. It was good.
After we moved inside they served a round loaf of potato skin bread. It was heavy and dense with little chew. It was served with buttermilk butter that was whippy and regular butter that was better but still too whipped for my tastes. They also brought a container of live gardencress with some little scizzors. It was lightly peppery but I couldn’t figure out what to put it on.
One last amuse bouche was variations on King fish – mostly tartar – with radish in many forms. It was a bit of a mess with so many bits. Some of the radish was in frozen form and there were many colors. It was an okay dish but it really didn’t make it for me.
The tasting started with Carabiniero prawn with tomato, coriander and Thai salsa. The shrimp was raw at the bottom and then pan-fried on the top. The salsa had a sweet component and the raw portion didn’t have the pastiness I usually associate with raw shrimp. Every bit just burst with flavor. This one was very good.
Balfegó tuna toro was plated with artichoke, bottarga and sherry vinegar. It was a large piece of the fatty tuna belly. It was tender and full of flavor and richness. The artichoke was in different forms and all the parts blended well. The botarga gave it a slight fishy essence that was not complimentary – I would have left that out.
Turbot from Brittany with cauliflower, peanut and red curry was a wonderful combination of tastes. The cauliflower was barely cooked and the sauce worked great with the fish and vegetable. Bits of peanuts added a nice texture. A good dish.
Swiss white asparagus was plated with crayfish, smoked ham and lemon. A hollandaise sauce brought out the best of all the ingredients. The crawfish were large, meaty and tender and the ham bits gave it a nice chew. The tender asparagus were cooked to perfection with not a hint of bitterness and mixed with small fresh peas. It was another good one.
Japanese Wagyu entrecôte Kagoshima was presented as grilled carpaccio with onion and sour cream. They managed to still keep the thin slice of meat slightly rare in the center. The tender, sweet onions added great flavor to the dish.
For the meat course there was a choice of bison or lamb. The Canadian bison filet was plated with spinach, chanterelles and young garlic. The bison was lean but tender enough.
The young lamb from the Pyrenees was presented sautéed and braised with green asparagus and watercress. The cuts were saddle, sweetbread and belly and the sauce was a salty lemon one. Too much dill was on this one. The piece of sweetbread had herbs mashed into it and then was pan sautéed but it was a tad overcooked. It was a nice variety of cuts but the dill muted the subtle differences here.
Cheese from the Jumi Versum were from cow, goat and sheep. It included Schlossberg young/old cow milk cheese aged from 16-36 months, Fessli goat milk cheese aged 3-4 months, Le Bele was a sheep’s milk cheese aged 3-4 months and C’est bon cow’s milk cheese aged about 5 weeks. It came with a dark nut bread and wheat bread.
The first dessert was Felchlin opus blanc chocolate with rhubarb, greek yoghurt and champagne. The yoghurt ice cream was great as was the rhubarb sauce. Rhubarb also covered the ice cream, maybe mixed with a gelatin to do this. The rhubarb stalks were too tough to eat and too tart but the other parts had enough sweetness. Overall it was not spectacular.
Marinated wild strawberries were served with liquorice and sorrel and plated on a strawberry sauce. Some frozen strawberries were mixed with the fresh. An amazing pound cake completed the top that was on the bed of liquorice. A crispy item that was the stems of sorrel mixed with egg white and caramelized into a crispy wedge, completed the display. The flavors were really strong and good. The strawberries were good but the pound-cake was the star here – it really absorbed the flavors. It was intense and divine.
Final treats were macadamia nut, sea buckthorn and cacao; Ecco truffle; Blackcurrant & caramel chocolate; Raspberry, black vanilla & pumpkin seed; and a canelé with tonka bean and passion fruit. The crispy bits were fun but overall there were too many flavors. Lots of textures and some of the nuts were almost over roasted and bitter.