For a short trip to Switzerland head to Alphabet City. This tiny spot on Avenue A near 12th Street, run by Edgar Villongco, is serving up the Swiss dish raclette, which is also the name of the restaurant.
Potatoes are cooked until gold brown as a half wheel of Swiss cheese is melted slowly beneath a heated grill. As the cheese softens on top and the rind crisps up, the top layer, about a quarter inch deep, is scraped onto the potatoes creating gooey goodness. The potatoes are served with slices of Viande séchée, a air-dried beef that turns beet red from aging. It's finished off with fresh greens, pickled onion and baby gherkins. The combination of flavors is fantastic and a filling meal at 15 bucks. And while you probably couldn't eat something this rich every day, it is truly a destination dish.
Raclette is also serving up croques, or grilled cheese sandwiches, with jambon de Paris and Gruyère. The Havana gets pulled pork, while the Americano version is stuffed with caramelized onion and a leek fondue. There are also open-faced sandwiches called tartines, including one made with sardines and another with cauliflower. Most dishes are in the $10-$15 range.
Scoring a table here is difficult with just two small ones available and some tight counter space. Be prepared to take out or dine al fresco. By that, I mean on the street. As for Chef Villongco, his love of food truly shines through.