If you’re a sports fan, then you’ll know that Swiss tennis player (legend) Roger Federer is in England right now, hoping to bring home another Wimbledon title. But you may not know that he and wife Mirka were in Zürich about 2 weeks ago, in line for a wurst. The buzz went wild here about the city’s best sausage. If Federer’s first choice is not enough proof, then what is?
“Twenty centimeters long, with a total of 500 kilo calories and 33 grams of fat.” That’s how the group at Zürich’s Vorderer Sternen Grill brags about its bratwurst on their website. I doubt a public relations agency in America would use the same approach. Perhaps they would rather talk about the fact that this sausage stand serves Anne Mae Bullock, aka Tina Turner, and even the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos. But most importantly, my guess would be that they feed about 99% of all of Zürich! Included on almost every restaurant list and compilation of top Zürich attractions, this unpretentious stand boasts the “best bratwurst in Zürich.” And it’s not just a tourist destination, it’s a local favorite – hence the lines reminiscent of New York’s Magnolia Bakery or Paris’ L’As du Fallafel. The lines don’t detract, and they go super fast.
Ask the outgoing and always smiling men manning the grill, and they’ll tell you that their bratwurst is for Zürich exactly what the Eiffel Tower is for Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge is for San Francisco. An icon. Halit, above, is a charmer, and along with your sausage, you’re guaranteed a laugh or two for sure.
The menu is not long; it’s really just a matter of a simple question – pork or pork/veal. The item that gets all the raves is the St. Galler Bratwurst, the thinner grayish sausage, made of a mixture of veal and pork. The fatter and reddish sausage is the Servelat, made entirely of pork. Both come with a little paper cup of a rather strong yellow mustard. You have been warned: a little goes a long way. Plus a crusty bread roll, real hard on the outside and soft and doughy within, and you’re set. They get their bread from Gold Bakery, which has been making their signature roll since 1907, and many say they’re the best rolls in town. So sausage in one hand, bread in the other – you’ll look like a local in no time. As for eating said bread roll without amassing a generous collection of crumbs around you, that I have yet to figure out.
Sitting above the sausages lined up on the grill are also half chickens, which come with the same Gold bread rolls as well as Russian dressing. Juicy and flavorful (and deliciously greasy), the chicken is also an excellent option. You might be surprised to know that there is in fact a vegetarian option too: a warm pita filled with lettuce, tomatoes and Russian dressing. That much is clear. I am less certain about the exact makeup of the large pieces that resemble chicken, but are in fact made from corn. It’s actually quite tasty, if a bit mysterious. Potato salad is the other way to go.
Either way, you’ll either eat standing up as most people do, over a little cocktail table, or grab a seat at a table, where you can also order drinks. Beer seems to be the default! But how to drink it when you’ve got a sausage in one hand, and your bread in the other….? I’m open to suggestions.
Vorderer Sternen Grill
Sunday to Thursday: 10:30am – midnight
Friday to Saturday: 10:30 – 1:00am