When was the last time you had a cordon bleu? When I was younger, I remember Wendy’s made a cordon bleu sandwich, and years later, a few other fast food restaurants followed. Since then, the Swiss creation (not French as most people believe) has been banished to the frozen food aisle, sad diners, and dated catered events. In fact, on last season’s Top Chef, Stefan almost got cut for making a cordon bleu, a food item Tom deemed for “bad banquets.” In Switzerland, however, the cordon bleu is still alive and kicking, and pretty tasty as long as you know where to go.
There’s a lot of places to have a cordon bleu in Zurich, but I chose Gertrudhof because they have 12 varieties on their menu. Yes, 12! There’s also the option to have a “mini” version which I appreciate. How much cordon bleu can a rational person consume without feeling sick? Especially with a side of fried potatoes. If you disagree, the restaurant also has a “mega” option. Go for it! (I shudder at the thought.)
I started off with a bottle of Erdinger weissbier (CHF 7.50 / USD $7.79; pictured at top), a cloudy wheat beer with orange notes. Although filling, I knew the citrus and extra bubbles would help in the consumption of much fried foods to come. And without fail, it did. Although a slice of orange would have helped even more.
For my cordon bleu, I chose the mini knobli cordon bleu (CHF 21.50 / USD $22.32), a fried pork cutlet with garlic stuffed with ham and raclette, which turned out to be an excellent decision. Intensely garlicky, but not overpowering, it helped cut the richness of the cordon bleu, and kept it interesting after more than two bites. On the side, I had some rösti (CHF 6.50 / USD $6.75) which was well-seasoned and fried to a beautiful golden crunch. When in Switzerland, rösti always seemed to be a wise choice.
Unfortunately for David, the non-pork eater, although there were 12 varieties of cordon bleu to choose from, all of them were pork, but since we couldn’t navigate the rest of the Swiss German menu (only the cordon bleu menu was translated), he bravely decided to order a cordon bleu as well. He chose the mini Entlebucher cordon bleu (CHF 24 / USD $24.91), a fried pork cutlet stuffed with bauernspeck, raclette, and prunes. David’s choice was also quite good. The smoky speck was actually fatty like a nice bacon, which I liked, and the prunes added an interesting sweetness. I know this because David preferred my garlic cordon bleu over his, and we traded midway into the meal. He found the addition of the bauernspeck to be pork overload, but I had no complaints. After eating my cordon bleu, I actually liked ending with the Entlebucher. It was a savory and sweet pork dessert, if you will. On the side, David ordered fries (CHF 6 / USD $6.23) which was pretty standard but was served thankfully extra hot and crisp, much like everything else.
The cordon bleu may no longer be trendy, if it ever was, but done right it’s great, hearty eating, and Gertrudhof definitely does it right.