“Igniv” means “nest” in the Rheto-Romanic language spoken in parts of Switzerland. It is the name (in all caps) that Grisons star chef Andreas Caminada gave his second new restaurant brand that he developed and then opened in Bad Ragaz, putting his long-time sous-chef Silvio Germann in to run the kitchen for what would be the test of a new dining experience: serving gourmet cuisine, but in many small portions that are meant to be shared.
By creating this “feathered nest” for the youngster, Caminada also put his reputation on the line. How would it all turn out?
“Sharing is caring” is a trendy concept, especially with the younger generation. As it happens, I belong to a more seasoned cohort that is not as prone to willy-nilly sharing everything – and certainly not a gourmet meal!
But, then there is Walter, ever eager to chase down and test a new concept. After all, the IGNIV Fine Dining Sharing Experience is carefully designed to provide just that: a shared culinary experience. Well, say no more…!
Alone the drive to Bad Ragaz has plenty of charm – or would have had if this vacation destination had not been greyed out in a steady drizzle on the day we arrive. Dispensing with the umbrella, we hurry from the parking lot to what used to be the space occupied by the Äbtestube, the former restaurant of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, which now houses IGNIV under its stylized nest and egg logo.
This is where Caminada has “nested” junior chef Silvio Germann, himself celebrated as the GaultMillau “Discovery of the Year 2017.” No doubt, this move helps Caminada keep his status as a top chef undiminished. After all, he can’t both fend off Pantaléon, the contumacious castle ghost haunting his Restaurant Schloss Schauenstein, while riding herd on the kitchen in Bad Ragaz at the same time…
Here, by the way, is our report on the “Haunting of Schloss Schauenstein” by said (real!) castle ghost (link opens new window).
Back at IGNIV, we are genially welcomed by restaurant manager Francesco Benvenuto. With that auspicious last name, how can anything possibly go wrong? Encountering this fellow Italian, I’m definitely perking up. The warm ambiance created by interior decorator Patricia Urquiola and the lovely table reserved for us by the fireplace raise my spirits even more.
Walter, too, relaxes, and soon he is intensively (read: “like crazy”) shooting everything in sight with his camera.
Compliments from the kitchen: IGNIV amuse-bouches
As he learned under Caminada, chef Silvio Germann sends all sorts of greetings from the kitchen in the form of amuse-bouches: The Fine Dining Sharing Experience starts off with air bread and gazpacho, mackerel with kohlrabi, duck foie gras with dried pear and eggs royale.
Each of the assorted tidbits comes in pairs in little bowls, so that sharing is not so hard after all :-)
Not bad, and I’m feeling more chipper by the moment! And that is because Benvenuto now puts on his sommelier hat and recommends a new wine with each course. And fills our glasses for starters, with a vintner’s champagne.
Appetizers without end
In an appropriately slow rhythm, the attentive servers Francis and Tobias bring us duck liver with truffles and brioche, tomato salad with basil and pascal celery, beef roulettes with chanterelles and potato chip, char with cucumber, dill, and radish, and trout with fennel and Amalfi lemon.
Not only are these delights delicious, their presentation on decorative Nachtmann glass bowls, moreover, is excellent.
Walter almost doesn’t get out from behind his camera. And me, I almost don’t get to eat…
Now, sommelier Benvenuto reaches for an unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc. Exquisite choice!
The table, already loaded with choice morsels, is turning into a feast for the senses. I’m nearly blown away by it all already, when here come our hosts bearing a “steamed up” glass cupola under which rest, we are informed, IGNIV nuggets of chicken from Val Lumnezia, cured over 3 days and nights. Mamma mia!
With solemn mien, the glass dome is at last lifted and dramatically waved before our eyes. The steam (or is it smoke?) wafts away in all directions.
Shock! For just a moment, I think I’ve seen the face of Pantaléon the castle ghost in the steam!
Did Caminada chase him out of Schloss Schauenstein, to have him breathe down magician apprentice Germann’s neck for a change?
Or is it Benvenuto’s wine accompaniment that is playing tricks on me? Whatever; the spectacularly-staged, gourmet quality chicken nuggets taste out of this world, that I’m sure of!
And one more surprise course…
Because we came for lunch and will have ample time after for digesting it all, we also do not pass up the added surprise elements. That results in our being served baked zander on peperonta and estragon foam, then pork ravioli and nut butter and, finally, pork belly with crispy skin.
And now… the main course!
Once more, on decorative small plates, we are served “Holzen” calf entrecôte, carpaccio of calf with potato vinaigrette, braised calf cheek with radish, and napkin dumplings with porcini, beans, and artichoke.
Benvenuto materializes by our table with a 2010 Barbaresco. The Nebbiolo grape juice presents wonderfully in the elegant Zalto Denk’Art wine glasses. And, so it does also, slowly but surely, in my head…
As usual, we end with dessert – or the chef!
In other bowls of shining crystal, we finish with iced yogurt balls with cherry and cherry sorbet, Black Forest macaroon, farina blancmange with kirsch sauce, clafoutis with apricot and vanilla, pecan nut parfait inventively camouflaged as hedgehog, and an apricot champagne mousse.
I’m about to lose my mind!
And just then, Silvio Germann emerges from the kitchen. Owwww! He is even better looking than Caminada!
Ok, I’m seriously blown away now! as Walter struggles to help me pick myself up from the carpet…
What more can I say, other than that a visit to IGNIV is crazy worth it! Forget about anyone “having his nest feathered”. Not a chance! The young team around Germann and Benevenuto on its own, in practically no time at all, has already won 16 GaultMillau points and one Michelin star for Caminada’s “Sharing Experience.” I’ll be interested to see what other heights they will scale…
The IGNIV 3-course sharing adventure costs CHF 148.— per person. It’s not exactly nothing, but worth it!
If you want to let yourself be treated to 3 or 5 surprise components, you will need to put down another CHF 40.- or possibly CHF 60.-.
Incidentally, on Sunday afternoons they have a 3-course sharing for kids! How very cool is that?
Restaurant IGNIV in the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
7310 Bad Ragaz
Tel +41 81 303 30 30