After 8 summers in Grindelwald, we have found that the two best restaurants for a treat for ourselves and for taking guests are those in the Schweitzerhof and the Hotel Kirchbuehl. The Schmitte has delicious food, a competent staff, and an atmosphere that my husband calls "fairyland" -- and he is not given to hyperbole. We have now eaten here more than a dozen times and almost weekly for lunch this past summer. Lunches out on the terrace in the midst of the garden, dining in the small alcove for nonresidents with gleaming glassware and pastel linens, or lunch in a rustic corner with Swiss table mats -- every experience is a real treat!
We used to come to the Schmitte only for special occasions or when we had guests, but this summer we discovered their Business Lunches. They are a terrific bargain! For 19 francs you get a first course of soup or salad, a main course with protein, starch, and veggies, and a dessert that is usually a ball of ice cream or sorbet, but sometimes you have the option of fruit tart as well. The lunches are prepared specially for you and are elegantly served. We have had Wiener Schnitzel, grilled salmon, Saltimbocca, and on the menu have also been regional dishes, spaghetti, pork, chicken and more. There is a different menu every weekday and a different set of lunches every week, plus a special one on Saturday which costs 29 francs. Every time we enjoy a lunch outside on the terrace, we think of all the people crammed into the narrow cafes on the street near the station paying more for one or two courses than we do for an elegant three! All they have to do is walk in the opposite direction from the main thoroughfare for less than 5 minutes to the Schweitzerhof and you can have an elegant lunch for 2 including a small bottle of wine and tip for 50 Sfr. We never can eat "dinner" after this lunch, but then we aren't 20-year old hikers. The business lunch is clearly a loss leader, so I don't know how long they will continue it.
In all the meals I have had, the only dish that disappointed me was the main dish from the half board I ordered when with friends. It had clearly sat in a warming oven too long. But the person next to me had ordered the same fish from the a la carte menu and hers had been prepared just for her and wasn't dry. My husband usually goes for the Wiener Schnitzel because it is prepared the Austrian way, not the German. The fish is excellent and they always have local varieties. And there's a whole page of vegetarian choices, unlike many restaurants which just have a token dish or two. Wines are also good.
It's a bit hard to rate this restaurant because the a la carte menu is not cheap but the business lunch is really inexpensive for what you get. Also, while the service by the waiters is professional, helpful, and friendly, we find the attitude of the women who greet us rather offputting and unwelcoming. So just put up with them, and the rest of your experience should be great.
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