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Say Cheese

Prepare for a stirring experience at the Swiss Haven Restaurant.

Swiss Haven's Neuenburger fondue, with a mix of Emmentaler and Gruyère, is the most common combination in Switzerland; we found it simple and straightforward, if a little dull. The house fondue was more interesting. The Masts so love the bold, raw flavor of Vacherin -- also known as Vacherin Fribourgeois, to distinguish it from France's Vacherin du Haut-Doubs and Switzerland's Vacherin Mont d'Or, a usually unpasteurized cheese that's hard to get in this country -- that they decided to pair it with another favorite, Appenzeller, an almost piquant cheese as renowned for its pronounced flavor as for its often outrageous price. The resulting fondue was flawlessly melted and melded, pure cheese nirvana. Next time, though, we'd skip the side of mixed vegetables, because the crunchiness of the under-steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots took away from the glorious gooeyness of the cheese.

In addition to the five cheese fondues, Swiss Haven also offers a roster of house specialties, all of which come with spätzli or rösti. The former is to Germans in Switzerland what pasta is to the Italians; rubbing the dough through a special sieve into boiling water gives the noodles their funny little shapes. Swiss Haven's take on spätzli was soft, with no floury aftertaste or half-done centers. After fondue, rösti is Switzerland's favorite dish -- and with good reason, judging from Swiss Haven's version. The shredded spuds were butter-soft inside, fried golden outside, and the potato cake was as big as the frying pan from which it emerged, a faintly greasy, crackle-encased marvel. These heavenly hash browns had just the right crunch to set off the Zuriberg, a classic Swiss preparation of tender veal strips dripping with a rich, creamy, mushroom-based sauce -- what stroganoff only wishes it could taste like.

Swiss Haven did just as well with more modest dishes, including the Bündner Gerstensuppe, a rustic soup that combined barley and Bünd- nerfleisch, or air-dried beef. The tomato-basil soup suffered only by comparison; the thinner but no less flavorful concoction was rife with fresh basil and had an almost Italian red-sauce taste. After making our way through luncheon entrees -- Jungfrau, a sizzling platter of rösti topped by a grilled bratwurst and an oily, super-rich onion gravy; and Kaseschnitte, an open-faced sandwich of wine-soaked French bread with Swiss-style prosciutto, pear slices and melted Vacherin and Gruyère -- we were ready to skip dinner.

Fond of fondue: Eric Olson fans the flames at the Swiss Haven Restaurant.
Q Crutchfield
Fond of fondue: Eric Olson fans the flames at the Swiss Haven Restaurant.

Location Info

Map

Swiss Haven

5946 S. Holly St.
Englewood, CO 80111

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Southeast Denver Suburbs

Details

303-741-6443
Hours: 11 a.m.- 2 p.m., 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Neuenburger fondue: $14.95
House fondue: $15.95
Mixed vegetables: $4
Zuriberg: $18.95
Bündner Gerstensuppe: $4.95
Tomato basil soup: $4.25
Jungfrau: $9.95
Kaseschnitte: $8.95
Swiss chocolate fondue: $6.95

5946 South Holly Street, Greenwood Village

Not dessert, though. While chocolate fondue is considered an aberration in Switzerland, Swiss restaurants in this country would be nuts not to include it. And so Swiss Haven sacrifices lots of excellent Swiss chocolate to create a thin but densely chocolatey fondue, which comes with marshmallows, a ladyfinger, pineapple, bananas and strawberries for dipping.

After two meals at Swiss Haven, it was impossible to remain neutral on the issue of Swiss cooking. Just smile and say cheese.

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