Enjoy Cheese Fondue Without the Smell!
Few things are more Swiss than enjoying an intimate evening around a bubbling pot of cheese fondue with a group of friends and family; this highly social activity is as ubiquitous in Switzerland as are chocolate and watches. You can learn more about cheese fondue, its origins, and how to prepare it in your home, in our “Culture & Traditions” section at https://www.basellife.com/cheese-fondue/.
Aside from the high number of calories, however, one of the main drawbacks to serving cheese fondue at home is that it leaves a pretty strong smell in your house that can linger for days. As the Swiss-German slogan says “Chli stinke muess es” (It must stink a little)! So, while most proper Swiss households have their own cheese fondue set-up (ceramic pot, stand, heat source, and forks), many Swiss people prefer to eat fondue outside of the home—in restaurants, ski chalets, or fondue huts—to avoid the lingering olfactory souvenirs of the beloved dish. In addition to Basel’s traditional Swiss restaurants like the Walliser Kanne (https://www.walliserkanne-basel.ch/) that serve typical Swiss specialties such as cheese fondue year-round, an increasing number of places pop up to offer cheese fondue in the cooler months; here are a few for you to discover in the Basel area.
- Baracca Zermatt
Until March 25
Set up every winter near the zoo, the Baracca Zermatt is an alpine-style fondue chalet offering rustic cuisine in a nostalgic atmosphere that will make you believe that the Matterhorn is just outside the door. Here, you can find cheese fondue, Fondue Chinoise, and raclette on the menu. You can opt to eat in the charming chalet with wax-dripped candles near a roaring fire or you can book the quaintly decorated “love gondola” just outside the chalet that is lit by candles and decked with fur throws on the chairs (suited for 2-4 people). The chalet is located at Binningerstrasse 14 in Basel; they are open Monday to Saturday from 18:30; closed Sundays. You can make reservations by phone at 061-564-6699 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. https://baracca-zermatt.ch/bs
- Fondue Stuebli at the Kunsthalle
Until February 25
The garden of the Kunsthalle restaurant, located right next to the Tinguely fountain by Theater Basel, is converted each winter into a fondue hut. They offer regular cheese fondue (Wirth’s Hausmischung) as well as cheese fondue with porcini mushrooms, with prosecco and truffle, and even a cheese fondue made with Ueli beer. Fondue Chinoise is also on the menu. They are open from 18:00-23:00 on Tuesday to Saturday in November and December and from Thursday to Saturday in January and February. Reserve your table directly online at https://www.fondue-stube.ch/#kontakt.
- The Dandy Winter Pop Up
On the roof of the Viertel_Klub in Basel, you will find the Dandy Pop Up restaurant that focuses on cheese specialties in the winter months. From November to February, they serve fondue (house blend, Ueli Bier, or champagne truffle) and an extravagant variety of raclette in a very special ambience that pairs classy and modern elegance with a rustic chalet style. Cigar lovers can visit their special cigar lounge next to the chalet where they will find a rare selection of cigars. Reserve directly online via their website. https://www.dasviertel.ch/dandy-winter-pop-up
- “Fondue am Fluss” (Fondue by the River)
Until December 16 and January 8 to February 20
The Sorell Hotel Merian, located right on the Rhein next to the Mittlere Brücke, offers cheese fondue in a tent-like pavilion set up on hotel’s terrace above the Rhein in the colder months. You can enjoy a variety of cheese fondues (with hot chili, dark beer and smoked bacon, truffle, and even vegan fondue made of cashew nuts) in the comfortably decorated winter pavilion, hence the name “Fondue am Fluss” (Fondue by the river). They are open from Tuesday to Saturday from 18:00-22:00; you can make reservations at 061-685-1111 or email@example.com. https://fondueamfluss.ch/
- Fondue on the Ferry
If cheese fondue by the river is not special enough, how about fondue on the river? A winter tradition in Basel is to gather a group of friends or colleagues and hire one of Basel’s lovely ferries (and its driver) for the evening while enjoying a fondue on a fully decked-out table inside the cabin. The ferry will cross back and forth over the Rhein as you and your group (8-14 people) enjoy your cheese fondue and drinks. You pay for the hourly ferry hire (after the normal winter operating hours that end at 17:00) and the fondue per person. Three of the four ferries offer private fondue evenings. To make a reservation on the “Wild Maa” Ferry (near St. Alban), use the online form at https://www.wild-maa-faehri.ch/; for reservations on the “Vogel Gryff” ferry (near Klingental), use the online form at https://www.vogel-gryff-faehri.ch/; and for reservations on the “Ueli” ferry (near St. Johann) go to https://www.ueli-faehri.ch/.
- Sandoase Winterdorf (Winter Village)
From November 11
Located at the Dreiländereck, the area where Switzerland meets Germany and France, you can find the Sandoase—an unexpected bar-restaurant where in the summer months, you can enjoy cool drinks and fine eats among palm trees and sand. In the colder months, this “tropical beach in Basel” is turned into a winter wonderland, the “Winterdorf” (winter village). This season, you can enjoy different types of cheese fondue (traditional, alpine herbs, bacon & onions, red wine-pepper, or truffle), as well as Fondue Chinoise and raclette in the chalet (max 120 people), the KOTS (8-12 people) or the fondue gondola (2-4 people), starting at 18:00 every evening. You can make reservations directly online on their website. www.sandoase.ch/winterdorf#startseite
- Fondue on the Rhystärn
Until December 23 and January 12 to February 18
You have likely seen the beautiful and sleek-looking, modern ship—the Rhystärn—docked at Schifflände or cruising up and down the Rhein on one of its regular or hired events. In the winter months, however, the romantic ambience is enhanced by the festive decorations, the view of thousands of twinkling Christmas lights sparkling from the city, and the winter menu that includes cheese fondue (mixed cheese, tomato-cheese, or Wild Maa fondue with apple wine) and Fondue Chinoise. Evening boat tours run from Wednesdays to Saturdays (Until December 23) and Thursday to Saturday (January 12 to February 18). For these “Abendfahrten” (evening trips) from 17:00–21:00, adults pay a CHF 9 fee to get on board, CHF 5 for kids ages 6-15, and free for kids under 6. The Rhystärn departs from Schifflände every hour but you are welcome stay on as long as you like after paying your one-time entrance fee. Reserve your table at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly on their website. https://www.bpg.ch/de/Events/winterschiff_rhystaern.php
- Cheese Fondue at Basel’s Christmas Markets
November 24 to December 23
At the Münsterplatz, the large chalet that serves cheese fondue—the Wacker Fonduestübli—is a Christmas institution! With its cozy setting, alpine decorations, and fur-lined chairs, it is an annual tradition to pile in and enjoy a pot of cheese fondue among friends. Be sure to make reservations as it is always packed at mealtimes (079-549-6626), and dress in layers as it can get quite warm. They are open during the opening hours of the Christmas markets, from 11:00–20:30 daily.