Happy New Year everyone!
We welcomed in the New Year with our lovely neighbours over good food, wine and smelly cheese, followed by a spectacular display of fireworks over Lake Zurich. The following day, we headed to the mountains of Grindelwald for a change of scenery. Anyone who has watched the classic Clint Eastwood film, The Eiger Sanction, will be somewhat familiar with the famous Eiger mountain that dominates Grindelwald. Unfortunately, I never made it to the ski slopes on this occasion, mostly due to lethargy brought on by round-the-clock feeding and midnight partying at the Little One’s request. That said, despite our initial hesitations about travelling with such a young baby, we had such an enjoyable and relaxing time that we ended up extending our stay.
Quite often when on holidays, eating out at restaurants several times a day for several days in a row can be tiring and make one homesick and anxious for a home-cooked meal. But when you are a new parent, sleep-deprived and out of ideas for one-pot and super-quick dishes, eating out happens to be a real blessing.
Like most popular ski resorts in Switzerland, Grindelwald boasts many good restaurants featuring local fare and hearty cheese dishes to replenish your energy levels after a day in the snow. Our favourite place was the Bäckerei-Konditorei-Café Ringgenberg, a casual eatery which we frequented each morning for a late breakfast (often because we were too tired to make it on time for breakfast at the hotel) and we sometimes even lingered long enough to stay on for lunch.
The café is attached to a bakery which produces a sumptuous array of breads and pastries to satisfy a good continental breakfast, and their lunch menu is appetising to those seeking either a light meal or something more substantial. They serve a very delicious and hearty goulash soup – it was so good that I forgot to take a photo on the three separate occasions that I ordered it for lunch, greed taking priority over publishing. And their toast sandwiches were also delightful. Perhaps my foodie standards are slipping somewhat if I am suddenly critiquing toast sandwiches, but when something simple is made so well, it’s hard to be snobby.
And just look at how cute they are …
If you are looking for other restaurant recommendations in Grindelwald, some places to try are:
Bistro Memory A casual restaurant with lots of rustic charm. Definitely the place to go for delicious burgers and fries, as well as their varied options for a traditional Swiss Rösti (potato cakes or hash browns). They also serve a delicious Swiss macaroni & cheese with a traditional applesauce on the side. A childrens’ menu is available for the little ones.
Restaurant Barry’s Although this restaurant is located in the city centre, the interior could fool you into believing you were in some cosy ski chalet, albeit a fairly large and modern one. Try their varied options for Cordon Bleu or perhaps something from their “light” menu if all the cheese is giving you too much speed on the slopes. We always order a cheese fondue during one of our visits (try the special cheese mixture from the local Molkerei Gertsch), and their desserts always hit the spot. The restaurant is very welcoming towards families with children and they offer a special kids’ menu. There is even a small playroom with books and toys where older kids can amuse themselves or younger children can play with some supervision. The great food and friendly service will have you wanting to return to the restaurant again and again.
Restaurant Challibar Hubby declared their Älplermagronen to be the best pasta dish he’s ever eaten.
Central Hotel Wolter This centrally located hotel boasts a modern restaurant with rustic chalet charm, as well as a great lunch and dinner menu. A changing daily lunch menu is offered at special prices, and their regular menu features popular pasta and salad dishes, a grill menu and Swiss classics such as the fondue chinoise. Their apple fritters with vanilla ice-cream is hard to go past for dessert. The restaurant is child-friendly and they offer a special kids’ menu.
Onkel Tom’s Hütte If you’re in the mood for wood-fired pizza and don’t mind a bit of queuing, this tiny and bustling hut is the place to visit. Their reservation system is a bit complicated, i.e. you can’t call ahead and make a booking, but you can show up at the restaurant and place your name on a waiting list if no tables are available at that time. It goes without saying that their seating arrangements can also be a bit hectic, but as even the locals sing high praises for this pizzeria, it’s worth trying on a night when you don’t mind lingering a bit in the cold or going to a nearby bar for a drink first.
C & M Café Bar Restaurant This cute little chalet is a great place to visit for afternoon tea, although their breakfast, lunch and dinner menu is also worth trying. There is always a great selection of cakes and pastries on offer, and which can be comfortably enjoyed if you can grab one of their cosy sofas upstairs. There is a special menu available for little ones, as well as pencils and crayons to distract them while you enjoy a warming glass of Glühwein or Apfelpunsch.
Hotel Bodmi While I don’t think one would go out of their way to dine at Hotel Bodmi (unless you are staying close by), I thought it was worth including it in this list as we have dined there on many occasions. If you or your children plan to take skiing lessons on the beginners’ slope at Bodmi – an area about 15 minutes by bus away from the Grindewald city centre – it’s helpful to know that there is a restaurant on-site where you can have delicious hot meals and drinks. Adults taking full-day skiing lessons at Bodmi will usually have lunch at this restaurant with their ski instructors. And anyone travelling with children will know that, oftentimes, children will change their minds about being in the snow, so it’s good to have a warm place to escape to where you and the children can grab a warm drink or snack. The menu is typically Swiss, meaning you can find the usual Pearl Barley Soup, Goulash Soup, Corden Bleu, Rösti, and a few salad and pasta dishes. The kids’ menu is also great – our children loved the fish fingers with boiled potatoes. It goes without saying that it is a very family-friendly restaurant, and baby-changing facilities are available.
Skiing Lessons for Children in Grindelwald
In Switzerland, most children tend to start skiing lessons around the age of 3. Our son started to express an interest in skiing at this age and was happy to put on his ski boots and skis in the snow, although he was not brave enough to move on his own. Any “skiing” was done with my husband holding him and guiding him down the slopes. Given his reluctance to do much independently in the snow, we felt he was not ready for skiing lessons at age 3; he still needed time to just play in the snow and get used to the idea of being outside in the cold.
But a year makes a big difference and our son was totally ready for skiing lessons at age 4. Not only was he excited about learning to ski, he was also motivated to learn something new. We initially enrolled him in 3 half day lessons at Bodmi, but ultimately extended it to 5 half day lessons as it turned out that, not only did our son absolutely love the skiing lessons, but he was also doing really well in the classes. The “half day” lessons are actually only 2 hours long (from 10.00 to 12.00), with some warming up time beforehand.
If parents wish to take a whole day out for themselves (whether to ski or otherwise), you can also enrol your children in the Snowli Kids Club where they can have lunch and/or play in the afternoon. Two qualified child-minders are on-site to take care of your children, whether it be playing indoors or outdoors in the snow. Your child must be at least 3 years old to attend the Snowli Kids Club. Our son absolutely loved it and he can’t wait to go back again soon.
More information on the Snowli Kids Club Bodmi can be found here.
This post was updated in December 2014 to include more restaurant reviews, and in January 2016 to include more photos.