Reviewed and recommended are four mid-priced restaurants within walking distance of the main rail station.

With the strengthening of the dollar over the past two years, a meal in Switzerland's largest city is no longer one of those "wanna know how much I paid for a bowl of soup in Zürich?" experiences.

To be sure, if you want Michelin rosettes or five-star hotel dining rooms, you can post some breathtaking numbers. For the most part, however, good food can be found at reasonable prices.

Here are four recommendations:

Mere Catherine: Charming, French/Mediterranean-style bistro in the old town near the Grossmünster. Most menu choices are light with usually a pasta dish or two and lots of seafood. Start with very fresh Normandy oysters (about $1.50 each when available) served with tiny rounds of pumpernickel bread and butter. Specials change daily but we've had such dishes as primavera pasta of corn noodles served with carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and broccoli; and a wedge of firm white scorpion fish in a lobster bisque sauce with basmati rice. The very fresh salads often arrive with a tray of additions: seeds, chopped egg, onion, parsley, and croûtons. Recently, we paid 36 Sfr. ($22) for a pleasant bottle of Saint Amour Beaujolais.

Starters range from 7 to 15 Sfr. ($4.30-$9.20) and main dishes are in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 Sfr. ($12-$18)

Mere Catherine Nägelihof 3, tel. +41/01/250 5940. Until midnight.

Brasserie Lipp: The famed Paris bistro has locations in both Geneva and Zürich. The Zürich store is just off Bahnhofstrasse and one of the city's best see-and-be-seen watering holes. The atmosphere is bright and upbeat and the efficient, white-aproned, all male waiters are reassuringly brusque.

The food is very good and surprisingly affordable. Sole de France, grilled or meuniree, for example, is 15.20 Sfr. ($9.33); half a lobster Thermidor is 35.50 Sfr. ($22) and Entrecote (pan fried beefsteak) in a pepper sauce goes for 37.50 Sfr. ($23).

If you just want to soak up the scene, you can try one of the wines featured each day for tasting. We recently sampled a delicious Sancerre (8.50/$5.20 per glass) which came with a tiny plate of pate and toast, a nice touch.

Inside the restaurant is the elevator to the plush Jules Verne Panorama Room, where one can enjoy great views of Zürich and environs while sipping an expensive cocktail.

Brasserie Lipp/Jules Verne Panorama Bar Uraniastrasse 9, tel. +41/01/211-1155.

Caduff's Wine Loft: We haven't been there yet, but some Zürich foodies say this is one of the two or three best restaurants in town; California-style, industrial-chic in a big, brightly-lit high-ceilinged room. To quote one review, "the freshest ingredients, purchased at the morning market, impeccably prepared and served the same evening, with no unnecessary frills." Starters are priced at 12 to 30 Sfr. ($7.40-$18) and main dishes from 28 to 52 Sfr. ($17-$32). Book well in advance.

Caduff's Wine Loft Kanzleistrasse 126, +41/01/240 22 55, fax 240 22 56, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Le Dezaley Vaudois: Near Mere Catherine, this lively spot serves up wonderful meat-and-potato dishes; veal and pork steaks, sautéed calves liver, and heavenly Pommes Frites and Rösti. Main dishes 28 to 33 Sfr. ($17-$20) range. No beer on draft, but reasonably-priced Swiss wines.

Le Dezaley Vaudois Rämergasse 7, tel. +41/01/251 6129, fax 252 2702

February 2001