It is not always easy to find traditional Swiss food outside Switzerland, but those who crave a fondue or some rosti should pay a visit to St. Moritz, the oldest and probably most traditional Swiss restaurant in central London. Just minutes away from the crowded Piccadilly Circus, the restaurant is a complete change of scenery from what surrounds it. The moment you step inside you are transported to a traditional chalet-style room with the atmosphere of a ski-resort in the Alps.
The restaurant is spread over two floors and the room upstairs is definitely the cutest and cosiest of the two. The space is not extremely big and a bit on the crammed side with antique wooden tools and cow bells hanging on the walls, but still comfortable. The first thing that hits you at the door is the strong aroma of cheese accompanied by the traditional accordion music.
Established in 1974 and owned by chef Armin Loetscher, St. Moritz – though offering a variety of Swiss dishes – is best known for its fondues to share between two or more people. For those who never tried one, it is a melted cheese dish -usually a mix of two types: gruyere, vacherin or emmental- served in a communal pot over a paraffin burner and eaten by dipping bread into the cheese. Besides the classic version, the diner can choose among a few variations, coming with mushrooms, new potatoes or even a beef option.
Following the traditional fashion, the fondue comes in a hot, bubbling cauldron with long-stemmed forks to dip the bread. The portions are generous and, though filling, the cheese is very tasty. After struggling your way through the bottom of the pot, you fill so full that having a dessert seems out of question. However, you shouldn’t leave St Moritz without trying the chocolate fondue, served with a selection of fruit and finger biscuits for dipping; an absolute must-try. The restaurant also offers a respectable selection of easily enjoyable Swiss wines that marry well with the flavours of the cheese. The service is attentive and friendly and the atmosphere very pleasant.
Although not being the type of place where you would go regularly – unless you are a voracious cheese-eater – St Moritz makes a perfect winter venue, especially if you don’t have a chance to make a skiing trip to the Alps: warm, cosy and ideal for a get-together with friends.