For the casual hipster: Volkshaus Basel

Volkshaus courtyardA few months ago, some colleagues from the Australian office were in town and were looking for somewhere to go for drinks after work. I told them to go to the Volkshaus. “It’s not far from here and you can sit outside” I suggested.

At the time, I’d only been to Volkshaus once and it was for a meeting so my recommendation was based on the fairy lights in the courtyard area and distance from the office. Recently, I walked past the Volkshaus again and thought it looked like a lovely place to have dinner on a warm summer’s night. It looks look and feels sophisticatedly cool. Like a hipster that shaved off his beard but kept the nicely fitted suits.

The Volkshaus is a bar, brasseries, beirgarten, club, gallery and venue. The bar, which faces the street (Rebgasse) is a nice place for after work drinks or meeting with friends. The brasserie however, disappoints.

The menu doesn’t offer a lot in terms of choices and the meals are small – not to mention expensive for what you get. Not to be a fatty boomsticks about it, but I left the restaurant still hungry – we all did.

While the Volkshaus has a lot going on – for example Jazz Brunch on the last Sunday of each month, live music and culture events and its No 8 club – the menu is somewhat of a letdown.

The atmosphere, the ambience and the décor are all fantastic. Full marks indeed. But the dining is just too casual and is at odds with the rest of what is on offer at the Volkshaus.

A salad topped with deep-fried fish. Hmmm...
A salad topped with deep-fried fish. Hmmm…

And I’m going to nitpick…our meals came out to an unset table. We were seated outside despite requested to sit inside (slight chill in the air). We were told because the weather was nice they would not be serving inside. That was fine, but we were put at an unset table and had to ask for salt, pepper, bread, etc. the waiters scrambled to give us the cutlery. The service was also very unfriendly…we felt like a burden to staff even though it was a Thursday night and not busy at all (we were eating at the relatively early time of 6:30pm).

I hate going out for dinner and leaving disappointed. I don’t expect to always love the food, but going out for dinner is a treat and you leave feeling like you were ‘treated’ to a nice evening at least.

We enjoyed some fantastic wine here but the meals were, as my father-in-law put it “not special”. We found them to be quite flavorless and unoriginal.


Bite-sized info

Cuisine

Swiss gastro pub. If this doesn’t exist, these guys have invented it. What is it? Overpriced festival food.

Price

A Blattsalat is CHF 12, a veal schnitzel CHF 42, which puts Volkshaus at the more expensive end of the dinner scale considering what it serves and the portion sizes. English menu here.

Good for…

A few drinks with the after work crowd.

Not good for…

A hearty meal.

What to wear

Something with pockets so you can bring your own food along for before and after. Just kidding…wear your hipster get-up. This place is uber cool.

Address

Rebgasse 12-14, 4058 Basel

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