The Volkshaus is a century-old workers'/bolshie arts center, still active today. It has a restaurant. The restaurant is often presented as a "corrective" to the much more expensive Kronenhalle (as if Kronenhalle needs a corrective), in that it serves similar homey Swiss-German food for less money (and emphasizes that it uses organic ingredients). It's not as good, though. I mean, it's perfectly fine, but Kronenhalle is special.
Old dining room: would be shabby chic, if anything in Zürich were ever shabby. Let's say nicely faded, then.
Having just emerged from a post-flight nap, I started uncharacteristically slow: a mushroom salad. Of course, the mushrooms were great.
Then, a loin of venison with port jus, more mushrooms, chestnut, pear, and -- the star of the plate -- plum brioche dumplings. Classic, obvs. The only thing wrong with it is that wasn't as good as a similar dish I had at Kronenhalle a couple of nights later. But, as everybody will remind you, this was much cheaper.
You know, in restrospect, this was really quite good.
I was faced here with an almost comic example of the Old Skool European (and Zürich is nothing if not Old Skool) incomprehension of solo dining. I had made a reservation for two, but the grad student I was visiting in Zürich had a late lecture, so I showed up alone. I was shown a table that wasn't in the dining room but rather alone in an alcove behind the hostess desk and told that was all that could be made available. "Come on," I said, "you can't expect me to eat there." I was then taken to a table in the dining room. I mean, come on.