Friday, January 16, 2009

Stars and Stripes: An "American" Restaurant in Switzerland

Stars and Stripes. Deemed an "American bar and restaurant", it's located in the middle of nowhere on a hill between Zurich and Baden in a town called Mutschellen. Mutschellen? It's a little off the beaten track but nevertheless, I have to recommend it. After all, on the menu, the football player is wearing an ILLINOIS helmet! What are the chances that an obscure restaurant in Switzerland would feature my very own alma mater's team as part of its carefully crafted menu montage?

Anyhow, I digress. It's just hard to get over the graphics on the menu. While I love to analyze Swiss people and how they do things, I am also interested to their perceptions of America. This menu is one of the best representations that I have ever seen of that. The interior of the restaurant also sums up the Swiss perception that we Americans are still a bunch of carefree cowboys roaming the wild west.

So how American was the food? I have to give them credit. My spare ribs (SFr 29.50) were really good. They came with French Fries that also tasted American. The only things un-American about it were the sides of salsa, sour cream, and pickles. Wasn't really sure what I was supposed to do with them. 

But if you live in Switzerland, you know the Swiss don't eat anything without pickles. Even the nachos (SFr 10.50) come with pickles. But I have to say that I like Swiss nachos much better than American ones. Mainly because the Swiss have never known a processed cheese.

I loved the drink menu too, with its title, "Juice, Booze & Pops." But the drinks are far from American priced. And if they really wanted to be authentic, there'd be free refills and much more ice. Especially when you have to pay SFr 4.80 for a Coke Light (another un-American drink) and heaven help us, a Rivella, which is also on under "Juice and Pop". I hate to break it to them, but Americans don't drink any pops with whey in them.

But who was drinking pop anyway? Since we went to this establishment to celebrate my birthday I went all out and ordered the 1 liter pitcher of margarita (SFr 49). It was a little confusing trying to order the flavor, because I never considered a regular margarita to be labeled "nature," but after an intense discussion with our waitress in German, we determined that just meant the lime flavor.

When the margaritas arrived, I was a little disappointed by the price/liquid ratio, which basically meant 4 small glasses of the stuff and a bit left over as you can see in the picture.
And there was no free water. But for SFr 7.80 you could have a bottle of mineral water or for SFr 9.50, a liter of water with gas. Water with gas. Surely every American's dream.

The desserts were pretty good. Choices included cheesecake (SFr 8.50), sundaes (SFr 8.50-13.50), shakes (SFr 8), or a brownie (SFr 7.50). There was also some kind of strange waffle with toppings on the dessert menu that none of the other American expats I was with could figure out. 

The sizes of the desserts were pretty American-sized if you ordered the large--for example, take a look here at this large strawberry sundae. All yours for SFr 13.50.
All in all, Stars and Stripes is a great place to visit, birthday or not. But as a bonus, if you do have a birthday (or just want to fake it for the attention), all of the lights in the restaurant will be turned off while they bring you your dessert of choice topped with a burning sparkler. As it burns below you, they'll turn on a soundtrack to a cowboy birthday song you've never heard before, but you can't argue that it's not in true Americana style. At least from a Swiss point of view. And that just makes it all the more memorable.


Ritsumei said...

Happy birthday! This place sounds like a hoot!

Chantal said...

Thanks. Yeah, it's definitely worth checking out if you're an American in Switzerland. But a lot of locals hang out there too. It's a very interesting crowd.

Unknown said...

Your stories always make me laugh!! Keep up with it, love your work! And of course: best birthday wishes from Texas - the Swiss must have gotten their inspiration from here ;-) ! Cheers from a Swissy in the U.S. ;-), Yvonne.

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