Swiss 2 GO
4306 118 Ave.
587-520-9400
www.swiss2go.ca

Food: 5 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns

Tues. to Sat. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Mondays

Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $20; fully loaded, $35
 

I’m all for the Denny’s, Joey or McDonald’s of this world – may a thousand flowers flourish – but what a joy to find another small, independent restaurant off the beaten track, offering home-cooking excellence that the chains simply can’t touch.

You have to drive down 118th Avenue almost to the Beverly Bridge to find Drita Keller’s Swiss 2 GO sandwich shop at the corner of 42nd Street.

You’d never know from the outside that Swiss 2 GO makes the city’s best sandwiches, even better than the hipster sandwich boutiques of Farrow, Sandwich & Sons, the Nate Box group and Local Omnivore.

You’d never know, except there’s one big clue: The exterior of Swiss 2 GO is spotlessly clean. You walk in, and you are struck by both the friendliness – as if you’d wandered off an Alpine hiking trail into momma’s kitchen in Switzerland or Austria — and the cleanliness.

Chef/owner Drita Keller is Swiss-born, has been making her own sandwiches, soups and desserts for 22 years in Canada – 18 years in Kamloops, B.C. and in Edmonton since 2012.

It doesn’t occur to her that running an independent eatery is a hardship. It’s what she does. It’s her passion. If she’s researching a new sandwich, don’t expect her home before the wee hours of the morning.

Choosing a sandwich or two from the 15 offered on the sandwich menu is difficult.

Should it be the “Italian Bride” – prosciutto, roasted red pepper, bocconcini cheese: Or the “Matterhorn” – alpine-style dried beef, cilantro, sliced avocado and banana peppers: Or the “Fleisch Salat” (Meat Salad) – Bavarian meat loaf, emmental cheese, dill pickles and hard-boiled eggs?

So much choice, and only one stomach to fill!

One of Keller’s many secrets is her home-made bread, accurately described as a pretzel baguette. The bread itself is soft and billowy, close to a brioche. The gently glazed, chewy brown crust is that of a soft pretzel, with sea salt flecks baked into the surface.

My wife and I opted for the Arosa (A Swiss town where the Alpine-style dried beef is made) and the San Bernardino (another Swiss town). We shared the Seven Cheese Tortellini soup of the day, and a dessert.

Both sandwiches were so tasty as to defy description. The secret: The bread, unusual combinations that do not rely on sauces and an astounding attention to detail.

The Arosa had a generous slice of that Alpine dried beef, its light chewiness combined with freshly boiled egg slices, top-quality Swiss emmental and two outside-the-box additions, roasted and slightly crushed salted walnuts and almonds, plus thin slices of apple.

The San Bernardino went slightly to the Orient, with spicy, herbed meatballs, chopped purple onion, cilantro, a sprinkle of sweet chili sauce, and in another perfect touch, a slice of ripe mango. Talk about a well-managed taste explosion!

The chains are quite good at mass-producing soup, but Swiss 2 GO’s soup is a reminder of the difference between those and the lost art of home-made, long-brewed soups. Drita’s soup veggies had a deep sweetness, hardy and hot. As you dug in, beneath the layered veggies were the tortellini pasta shells, each with a cheesy filling.

I set aside my notebook to indulge in a Swiss 2 Go dessert, so I cannot give you details. It was as tasty and made-from-scratch as the rest of a superb, inexpensive, light but filling meal.

Five out of five Suns for Drita Keller’s Swiss 2 GO. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

* * *

Last week saw a grand re-opening of the Sherwood Park New Asian Village, after renovations. The New Asian Village group/brand, owned by members of the Harmeet Kapur family, is now comprised of the Sherwood Park, 34th Avenue, and West End restaurants, plus New Asian Village fast-food outlets in several city malls. Harmeet sold New Asian Village – Old Strathcona (It’s now The Great Indian Kabob Factory). He has since opened a New Asian Village in Victoria, B.C.