Zurich has a new NENI restaurant. It comes with a hotel: The 25hours Langstrasse, which sparkles not just because of its special location between the red-light district and Europaallee (Europa Avenue), its colorful design rooms and Kamasutra-themed bar, but also because of this restaurant serving Mediterranean fare with a Middle Eastern flair.
But, don’t even think about spontaneously dropping in, especially evenings: ever since the opening, this is an in-destination and, for all practical purposes, booked solid!
It was only fairly recently that the design oasis of the Hotel 25hours Langstrasse rose on the border between Zurich’s Europaallee and the red light district. Outside it, the still somewhat unfinished forecourt looks “urban” at best, if not to say ugly: scattered about the buckling asphalt stand “vintage” brand garden chairs, and you’ll search far and wide for shade.
As I enter the building at the corner of Langstrasse and Lagerstrasse, a slight irritation sets in again: can this really by the official entrance to the hotel? A house cat fixes me in its stare while sunning itself comfortably on a luggage trolley. And what are those bags hanging from the concrete ceiling? It’s not Friday shopping night, is it? And what’s with the many kinds of exotic-looking colored luminaires?
But, I really shouldn’t be surprised; after all, the design for 25hours Langstrasse sprang from the pen of Werner Aisslinger, the pro who did the interiors of the spectacular 25hours Bikini hotel in Berlin (read our review here). And designer Aisslinger goes for the “wild mix”! In Zurich, he might have found himself inspired by the contrasts between banks and the red-light district or between art and railway tracks. Makes sense, since “urban nomads” is the demographic targeted by the newly-opened hotel. It includes not just bankers but also creative types who make culture or artsy tourists.
And hungry city dwellers!
NENI Restaurant – congenial chaos
NENI is the establishment and culinary concept of the Molcho family, originally from Tel Aviv. It is fielded by kitchen virtuoso Haya Molcho and her four sons, Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv and Ilan. The first letters of her son’s names go to make up the “NENI” name.
In Tel Aviv, family and friends are an important part of life of city life and so they remain for the exuberant Haya Molcho. Her family’s Israeli, Romanian, and Spanish roots help shape her concept. At NENI, life revolves around shared dishes, passion and joie de vivre — in short, it is balagan, i.e. “congenial chaos.”
At the side table, the high-spirited Haya tests various dishes with her boys. It’s easy to see why the family motto is:
Life is beautiful. Be part of it!
There are already successful NENI restaurants in Vienna, Berlin, and Hamburg. In Zurich, along with the Middle Eastern meze of hot and cold dishes, premium meats from the glowing hot Josper grill are supposed to delight. In fact, they do so excellently! Not only are we gaga over them, but also over the attentive service by Anke, our server seconded here from the Berlin NENI to break in her new Zurich colleagues.
Be sure to make your evening reservations here! The restaurant has enjoyed great popularity from Day One!
Hotel 25hours Langstrasse – the restaurant comes with a hotel
To be sure, bare concrete in the red-light district is not everyone’s thing. Moreover, since the Cinchona hotel bar is decorated with an outsized Middle Eastern love scene. But, bear in mind that 25hours CEO Christoph Hoffmann and hotel director Anita Vogler after all envisioned it as a design hotel for the daring…
Daredevils that we are, Katja and I thus bedded down to listen into the urban night in the colorfully-decorated hotel room.
There was not much to be heard in the hotel room until the alarm clock sounded the next morning to remind us of the task that we had set for ourselves: testing the Middle East-inspired breakfast buffet…
But, not before I get under the rain shower first. So what if the shower head is not quite the size of a satellite dish, like the one in the Vals Thermal Spa? The shower stall still measures almost 2 meters across diagonally; it must be one of the largest of its kind. And it’s all glassed in.
Wide awake and fresh, we set to the ample breakfast buffet. For “normal guests,” there are the usual muesli, bacon and eggs and the like. But, adventurers that we are, we go for something Middle Eastern: Having been turned on to the taste of menemen (a dish of eggs and tomatoes) for breakfast in Istanbul, this time I went for the shosushka! The Israeli variant of this egg dish measures up in every way. But, that said, shouldn’t the skillet really be the same size as the shower head?
Well, ok; the portion in any event is enough to let me survive until lunch…
Invigorated, we finally tore ourselves away to dive into the commercial bustle in the design oasis conceived by the Zurich architectural studio E2A. Like Pia Simmendinger, who heads up PR for E2A, we are curious how the district’s social scene will change: Will the 25hours hotel crowd, district residents, the red-light district denizens, the business people and Googlers hit it off? Add to the urban mix that the KOSMOS Culture Center right next to the 25hours hotel is slated to begin drawing visitors starting in September 2017…
Restaurant NENI Zurich in 25hours Langstrasse Hotel
Hearty thanks to Anita Vogler for the invitation! Thanks also go to Anke and the Molcho family for the memorable description of the restaurant’s business background: the chefs were trained at the Molcho headquarters in Vienna, some even flown to Tel Aviv to really absorb the culture in authentic fashion! Also, a great thank you to Pia Simmendinger for filling us in on the new construction for her architectural studio!