Sunday 7 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 7/4/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Fresh brews

There’s a spring in our step as April brings brighter days and lighter evenings to the northern hemisphere. In this week’s dispatch, we get our shot of caffeine at the remarkably compact café in Argentina and break bread with the Israeli chef making pittas popular around the world. We also get a preview of a hotly anticipated Tokyo bolthole and raise a toast to a Parisian aperitif that honours the city’s Gallic roots. And, should you happen to be near Zürich this weekend, Tyler Brûlé might have a plan or two for you...

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Thinking outside the ox

Over the past few months you’ve perhaps read the odd mention of my new side project along the lake from Zürich, a classic Swiss Gasthof in the heart of the neat, well-mannered village of Küsnacht. Given that this is indeed a project, there has been a considerable amount of thinking about how you revive a building that has been around for five centuries and how you make it function for a community that’s both established and one of the most international in Switzerland, if not Europe.

The good news is that when the Gemeinde (the community) is your landlord, you inherit a building in excellent shape; everything is fully functioning – almost immaculate in some cases – and all aspects are ready to roll. This being Switzerland, however, function often trumps warmth and intimacy, so the past few months have been devoted to softening the edges, dimming the lights (indeed installing dimmers), adding metres of felt and putting up artwork. What started as a fondue pop-up back in November is now nearing the point of becoming a fully functioning restaurant, bar, garden and low-scale hotel operation.

We officially threw open the doors to the Oxen (formerly Ochsen) on Friday and it has been full tilt for the kitchen from the get-go. With about 50 seats indoors and more than 60 in the garden, as well as room for another 50 in the Oxensaal, (birthdays, wedding, local choir crazy nights), we’re building slowly. The “we” in all of this is me, along with my business partners Marc, Markus and Thomas. While it’s a distinct operation from Monocle, there are some Monocle components in the mix. More on this in a moment. In the tradition of a hearty Gasthof, the Oxen also features seven rooms on the top floor and an apartment suite on the second floor. As we’re a bit more than a B&B but not quite a full hotel, we’re dubbing our overnight offer the “Oxen Sleeper” as every room features a comfy bed and washbasin, with two full bathrooms along the corridor. Think more mid-century Swiss train than five-star lakeside hotel. One floor down, we’re almost finished with the two bedroom Monocle Suite. It’s available to all but there are preferential perks for Monocle subscribers. Indeed, Monocle Patrons will get their first glimpse on Monday evening, when a group of 30 will join us from far and wide.

As we thought about how to offer more for the community and add to village life, the laundry facility out the back caught my eye. Could it be an extra conference room? A wine-tasting venue? A newsstand and coffee shop? No surprise that we went for the latter. We’ve dubbed it the “Oxbox”. At the time of writing this column, it has been open for exactly five hours and we’ve already welcomed neighbours from across the courtyard and down the lake. For anyone familiar with our operations in Merano or on Dufourstrasse in Zürich, the Oxbox is currently sailing under the Monocle flag. We’ll see how it goes over the coming months. It’s a seasonal spring offer for now but, like many such ventures, it just might turn out to be permanent. As you plot out summer and where you might fly in and out of, we look forward to helping you. There’ll be more on over the coming weeks and a dedicated send-out as soon as we hang the final pictures in the apartment. The temperature is due to hit 27C today, so the lake is, of course, calling. If you have any questions, please send them to Izumi in my office at You can also find more at

First look / Janu, Tokyo

Ground control

Tokyo’s recent luxury-hotel openings have been nestled in the upper reaches of towering skyscrapers but new opening Janu has brought things back down to earth (writes Fiona Wilson). The ground-level 122-room hotel in Azabudai Hills is the first of 12 for Aman’s new sister brand, Aman Resorts, which comes with a lifestyle label and a slightly lower price tag.

Image: Yoshitsugu Fuminari
Image: Yoshitsugu Fuminari

While its sister hotel was designed as an ultra-rarefied retreat from the bustle below, Janu sits in the heart of the neighbourhood, opening onto the adjacent shopping area and welcoming in the outside world. Its eight bars and restaurants include Hu Jing for modern Cantonese, Janu Grill for a wagyu steak and Mercato for fresh pasta, while Iigura serves sushi and Sumi offers fish and meat cooked over charcoal.

Jean-Michel Gathy’s Kuala Lumpur-based studio, Denniston, was tapped to design the interiors. Janu’s rooms have Aman’s trademark serenity and their giant bathrooms are finished in a neutral palette. The development’s architecture maximises what the Japanese call shakkei (borrowed scenery). The Tower View Suites overlook Tokyo Tower, as well as lesser-known buildings such as the Reiyukai Shakaden Buddhist temple (you can’t miss its sloping roof).

Image: Caffe Del Popolo

Eating out / Caffé del Popolo, Argentina

All bar none

Nestled between two towering buildings in the city of Córdoba, Argentina, lies a remarkable experiment in retail design (writes Alexandra Aldea). The 4 sq m Caffè del Popolo occupies a previously unused patch of pavement that has been reclaimed as a community gathering point. The coffee bar was designed by Rare Studio Experimental, which sought to maximise the location of the corner spot while leaning into the idea of compression.

Despite occupying a tiny space, the bar packs a punch in terms of cultural significance. “Our menu is inspired by our travels around the world and Italian traditions”, says co-founder Ramiro Traversa. “We offer traditional bites such as alfajores and Córdobeses cremonitas de grasa [a local pastry].” The result is a quirky addition to the cityscape that offers a moment of respite in the bustling metropolis.
Ave Hipólito Yrigoyen 398, Córdoba, Argentina

Sunday Roast / Eyal Shani

Bread winner

Israeli chef and restaurateur Eyal Shani has created more than 40 restaurants around the world, including internationally renowned chain Miznon (writes Claudia Jacob). These contemporary canteens have been serving up fluffy green falafel in pillowy pittas for more than a decade in Paris, New York and Melbourne. Here, he recounts his hummus-making habits, celebrates the tranquillity of a classical concerto and tells us about the refreshing drink that he enjoys after service.

Where will we find you this weekend?
I’ll be at home by the sea, just north of Tel Aviv. I recently left the city after 35 years but I have 17 restaurants there, so I often return. I’ll spend some time with my giant turtle, which lives in the garden.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
In Israel, our day off is a Saturday, so I wake up and have a coffee and smoke a cigarette, while looking out at the sea. I make some hummus at home, which is a long process involving dry and cooked chickpeas and plenty of tahini.

What’s for breakfast?
Creamy porridge.

Lunch in or out?
I try to eat a bit of hummus at lunch with the team at one of my restaurants.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I prefer to go running or swimming in the sea.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Bach or Glenn Gould. I stopped listening to everyone else 15 years ago.

Sunday culture must?
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

News or not?
I didn’t listen to the news until the war in Gaza began. Now I have it on for more than three hours a day.

What’s on the menu?
If I’m doing a restaurant service, then I taste my dishes as I go along. When I’m at home, I open a white burgundy and prepare quinoa with vegetables, tofu or fish. I improved my home cooking during the coronavirus pandemic. Before then, I was more comfortable cooking in restaurants. The energy is completely different and I can be a real master of my kitchen at home.

Sunday evening routine?
I’ll head to Cassata, my new gelato-cum-wine bar in Tel Aviv, for dessert.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Yes. I have olive-oil stains on all of my clothes, so I don’t usually have much of a choice.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Prawn toast

Monocle’s Swiss chef grew an appreciation for high-quality seafood while working in kitchens in Tokyo and San Sebastián. This straightforward appetiser, which can be prepared in less than 20 minutes, makes a feature of prawn and has undertones of chilli and ginger to cleanse the palette.

Serves 4

100g raw shrimp, deveined and diced
1 egg white
1 tsp cornstarch
1 small jalapeño, diced
Handful of mint, finely chopped
Handful of coriander, finely chopped
½ tbsp ginger, grated
¼ bunch Tokyo Negi onions (or spring onions)
1 tbsp sesame oil
Pinch of salt
2 thick slices of white bread
Sesame seeds, to garnish
Knob of clarified butter
Wedge of lime
Spoonful of mango jam

Mix the shrimp with the egg white, cornstarch, jalapeño, herbs, ginger, Tokyo Negi onions and sesame oil. Add salt and pepper.

Generously coat the slices of white bread with your shrimp mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Melt the clarified butter in a hot pan. Fry the bread for about 5 minutes in the butter with the shrimp side down, until it becomes golden brown. Fry for another two or three minutes on the other side.

Serve with the wedge of lime and mango jam.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms Up / Lutèce

Spirit of the age

Lutèce – the name of the Roman city on which Paris now stands and one of the capital’s most celebrated hotels – now lends its name to a Parisian aperitif (writes Lucrezia Motta). “I set out to make something to share while sitting en terrasse at the end of the day,” says founder Joshua Fontaine. “Despite France’s long tradition of heritage aperitifs, they often seem outdated. We decided to make a modern spirit to appeal to contemporary sensibilities, bringing apéro culture into the 21st century.”

Lutèce is a gentle blend of gentian root, linden flower and fennel seeds, which is macerated and blended to create an aromatic tipple that honours the artistry and aesthetics of the city.

Hospitality holdouts / Café Prückel, Vienna

Café culture

As part of our series of hospitality holdouts, featured in our April issue Expo, Monocle visited Café Prückel in Vienna to find out what hospitality secrets have stood the test of time.

With its vast windows, Café Prückel on the western edge of the city’s Ringstrasse excels in most departments (writes Alexei Korolyov). It opened in 1903 under a different name and in the bright, gaudy style of artist Hans Makart. In 1955 architect Oswald Haerdtl spruced up the interior to include cheerful pastel hues and spindly low-slung furniture, helping the café to stand out from its wood-panelled peers.

Thomas Hahn, one of the three new co-owners who took over in January following the 62-year tenure of Christl Sedlar, is intent on preserving what he first found at Café Prückel. “Tradition is very important here,” he says as elderly Viennese ladies descend on their Stammtisch (regular table) for a game of cards. “It is my third restaurant but my first with this kind of past.” The only real changes slated are to the kitchen equipment; the classic fare on offer, from the schnitzel and goulash to the cakes, will stay the same. Now, where’s the waiter with that coffee?

To see more hospitality holdouts, pick up a copy of Monocle’s latest issue, which is available to purchase now. Or subscribe so that you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


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