Northeast Alberta Street is dotted with so many great restaurants that it’s easy to overlook the side streets. But if you head south on Northeast 14th for half a block, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most satisfying meals in Portland. Swiss Hibiscus, which has been open for four years, serves up authentic Swiss German favorites in a room as cozy as your grandma’s kitchen.
Chef Jennie Wyss, the daughter of Swiss chef and salad dressing entrepreneur Martin Wyss, presides over a menu that features specialties such as Swiss cheese fondue made with kirsch, Emmentaler-glazed Swiss onion soup, house-cured gravlax on toasted rye and various salats, all of which are served with Martin’s Swiss Dressing. This creamy, peppery condiment accompanies the complimentary basket of warm house-made bread that starts every meal. (If you just can’t get enough of it, you can ask your server for a 12-ounce bottle; it is also available online at martinsswissdressing.com/order.html).
Wyss accommodates various dietary preferences; not only can she can omit the ham from her croute emmental, she also offers a vegan rösti. Vegetarians will enjoy the vegan lentil stew, which can be made without gluten. The salat teller, or assorted Swiss marinated salads, may be ordered without fish.
This writer was delighted to find spätzli (“little sparrow” pasta) on the menu. The buttery, irregularly shaped egg dumplings complemented three tender fillets of wild rock- fish in a lemon butter caper sauce. Homemade coleslaw with tomatoes and shredded carrots was refreshing. A plate of marinated salats featured dill-accented albacore salad, egg salad, and marinated beets and carrots.
The dessert of the day was a warmed almond plum buckle with vanilla bean-flecked ice cream. Since the res- taurant prides itself on its homemade hot chocolate sauce, we ordered a side of it; this sauce also formed the base of the whipped cream-topped cocoa. Other sweet treats included caramel custard, chocolate mousse and eis kaffe (vanilla ice cream blended with coffee and whipped cream).
Since there are only about half a dozen tables in the restaurant, reservations are recommended. According to our server, weekend wait times at Swiss Hibiscus often approach one to two hours. (As we finished our meal, we heard an old gentleman yodeling; perhaps he was overjoyed to score a table!)
Swiss Hibiscus: 4950 NE 14th Ave., Portland | 503- 477-9224 | swisshibiscus.com/home