Mischa Dieterich is one of the creative minds behind miteinander GmbH, a driving force behind Zurich’s gastronomy scene, which has spurred incredible innovation over the past few years. He reveals to us what he likes best about Zurich, what restaurants and bars you shouldn’t miss and – most tellingly – what sometimes annoys him most about living in Zurich.
Mischa, you recently travelled around South America for a couple of months. What did you miss most about Zurich while you were abroad? Well, besides my friends, the lake of course! One great and somehow underrated advantage of Zurich is the nature. It's all so close here. In no time you can be on the lake or in the forests on Zürichberg. I really like that about Zurich. I also totally missed our bread. Zurich bakeries have an abundant choice of breads. And the traditional plain Zurich fare: sausages, Röschti, all the different cheeses...
Anything about the city that you didn't miss? Something that can be annoying at times? Well, the small size of the city and the proximity of everything in Zurich can be both a blessing and a curse. It's literally impossible to go somewhere in Zurich without seeing a familiar face or being recognised by someone. So in major cities I often enjoy the anonymity.
How would you advertise Zurich? Well, again - first of all, the nature! In summer you can just jump into the river or lake right in the city centre. Foreigners never believe me at first that there are river baths right next to the main train station. And, of course, the gastronomy! You can be in Zurich for one week and have lunch and dinner in an extraordinary place every day.
What makes Zurich's gastronomy so special? The quality here is extremely high. You won’t find any tourist traps or restaurants of poor quality. Of course, there are differences in quality, but it's always at least OK here. The competition is fierce, so if a place serves bad quality cuisine, it simply won’t survive.
Where do you go for dinner or lunch these days? Recently I somehow rediscovered the traditional, classic restaurants. I, for one, still love to go to Kronenhalle. It’s classy, timeless and serves excellent food. Or the French brasserie Lipp for some seafood, Café Odeon or Zeughauskeller for traditional Swiss fare. I also like Italia for straightforward Italian food or Josef with its concept of small plates. All of them really know what they’re doing, and I know what to expect. A tip for lunch: our Michelin-starred Maison Manesse has unbeatable lunch offers.
And where do you go for drinks and beers? I live close to Idaplatz and I love that district, so you can often find me at our Le Calvados sports bar there. For cocktails Kronenhalle and Widder Bar still are state of the art, but they receive more and more competition from young and wild mixologists. The district around Langstrasse is definitely the most happening place for those small, innovative bars like Central Bar, Fat Tony or Hotel Bar for example. Clubbing is not my thing anymore. In fact, I became an early bird who prefers it rather chilled in the evening.
Where do you get your ideas? When you were travelling, were you also scouting for new trends? Well, definitely. Though on my last trip I didn't see anything totally new that doesn't yet exist in Zurich, be it in Lima, Los Angeles or Tokyo. Zurich has really caught up to major cities over the last few years. The city can definitely compete in variety now – and, just as importantly, in style. That said, I think there is a certain saturation in Zurich's gastronomy market, despite many recent openings. My guess is that some long-established venues that haven't innovated much over the years will increasingly feel that.
Tell us a little about how your company works. It's different with every project. Sometimes we actually run places, sometimes we just bring the right partners together. One example is the recently opened Japanese restaurant Ooki. We knew chef Ooki was looking for a restaurant for quite some time. Then the owner of a restaurant came to us, because he wanted something innovative at his place. We brought them together, advised Ooki on the budget and the reconstruction, but the place is run by Ooki and his son now. They know how to cook a Japanese meal, not us.
So you're sort of a matchmaker? Well, not only, but yes, sometimes we are.
What does your ideal weekend look like? Honestly, on the weekends I’m often outside of Zurich. My weekend usually consists of Sunday and Monday. In winter I often snowboard in the mountains. In summer I do lots of city trips. Something I find interesting is that Zurich doesn't really have that one perfect getaway, a place outside the city where everyone wants to be and that still has some typical city life like the Hamptons for New Yorkers, for example. That is something we might help to develop.
Last question Mischa. Has any restaurant or bar recently opened in Zurich that impressed you so much you asked yourself: ‘dammit, why didn't I have that idea?’ Yes, the Vicafé coffee shop at Bellevue. This is such a simple concept, and it works! A tiny place selling high quality coffees all day, mostly for take away, and nothing else. Really great.