Dining Review: Alpenclub – Engelberg, Switzerland
When looking for places in Engelberg to eat, Alpenclub stands out as one of the staple establishments in town. The building itself was built in 1780 and was used as an inn starting in 1875. Currently, there are half a dozen dining spots in Alpenclub along with hotel accommodations. With attention to detail and dedication to tradition, we knew this had to be one of our dinners in Engelberg.
We arrived on a quiet Thursday for our reservation and the restaurant was empty at 5:30PM opening. We learned during the trip the Swiss eat later like other European countries but the jetlag kept us at an earlier dining time. While we may not have needed reservations on this Thursday, when we walked by on Saturday the line to get in was out the door! So I would say reservations are definitely a good idea.
First thing to comment on is how wonderfully friendly everyone was from the moment we stepped inside. Engelberg has such hospitality and Alpenclub was no exception. The dining room has a few notable characteristics. The ceiling is quite low – and this is something we noticed in a few other places – so Engelberg was not built for tall people. Everything is covered in beautiful wood, all the tables were candlelit, and there was overall just a cozy and inviting ambiance.
Once we settled into our corner table, we reviewed the menu full of traditional dishes and house specialties. For beverages, after Kevin ordered a Negroni cocktail we tasted a few glasses of Swiss wine. We had no idea Switzerland had a wine region and we learned that it is no typically found outside of Switzerland so we made sure for the rest of the trip to take advantage of their delicious wine. Note that wine pours are definitely smaller than what you may be used to as well. Now, onto the meal!
Homemade beef goulash soup with vegetables, potatoes and homemade bread roll
Kevin ordered this hearty soup to start the meal. This was the perfect cold weather dish to warm up your soul. And this was stuffed with veggies and super flavorful. And I am not sure why, but the bread roll served with this was amazing both on its own and dipped into the soup.
Classic French onion soup with cheese croutons
I joined Kevin on the soup train by ordering the French onion soup. While it was labeled french onion soup, it was not done in the preparation style I was expecting (which now makes me question what the traditional preparation of this dish is supposed to be). I guess I can agree that it was not prepared in the way I am used to – dark broth with layer of bread and melted cheese on top. This was a clear broth with fresh herbs. I was tasty and more flavorful than I expected a clear broth to be. And while it was. notwhat I expected, it was still a good cup of onion soup.
Alpenclub veal cordon blue stuffed with shaved beef and raclette cheese from the Gerschnialp with vegetables, creamed spinach and french fries
Kevin ordered the veal cordon blue which I had read was a staple dish in Engelberg. We were both surprised how much German influence was present here so it was fun to experience these dishes authentically. This piece of veal cordon bleu was massive! And it was stuffed with raclette cheese before the entire thing was fried to a perfect golden brown. The second Kevin cut into it, the raclette came gushing out as did that funky yet delicious raclette smell. This was absolutely delicious but the portion was too enormous to finish. I think the staff were surprised at our inability to finish this off but we could not believe someone could finish this! Delicious dish and loved every bite.
Spaetzle pan with veal strips, vegetables, mushrooms and Engelberger cheese
Since Kevin had the meat covered, I decided to try something different. As a fan of spaetzle (though who isn’t a fan of spaetzle?), this dish sounded wonderful. And it was so delicious! Something about Engelberg cheese – it had concentrated flavor without being heavy or overwhelming. The addition of the veal, vegetables, and mushrooms worked very well in this dish. Overall, really enjoyed it and was happy with my selection.
Homemade chocolate mousse with cream
Typically we do not order chocolate mousse out cause Kevin learned how to make an incredible version at home. Thank being said, reviews mentioned the chocolate mousse on multiple occasions so I knew we had to try it. When our server came to the table with a legit wooden pale of chocolate mousse I was at a loss for words. Was this table side chocolate mousse?! Indeed, it was. The server bring the giant pale of chocolate mousse, has a pitcher of hot water that the spoon is dipped into (think of water pales for ice cream scoopers) to make the perfect spoonful portion, and the a second pitcher contains freshly prepared ream that. is drizzled all over the scoops of chocolate mousse. The dish is also covered in cocoa powder so it adds more chocolate. We were amazed and must have had the strangest looking grins on our face as we witnessed this entire process. We learned that this recipe is more than 40 years old and has never changed, including continuing the same table side presentation. Even when new chefs arrive, they are not permitted to alter the chocolate mousse recipe. Simple amazing and yes, it was perfection.
What an incredible first meal in Engelberg! We were looking forward to all the other meals we had in Engelberg with how delicious this meal at Alpenclub was. It was obvious to us why this is such a staple of Engelberg and why it draws the popularity. This commitment to tradition and service really shine, and the food is simply delicious.