I'd like to offer a few comments on my own experiences with Rösti.
It is certainly true that Rösti are not instant food or "fast" food. And, if you start from the very beginning, it does add some time to shred the potatoes to the correct size/shape/dryness. If you start with a frozen pre-made shaped patty or disc, they are not nearly as good.
However, my own experience has been that it can take anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes. One hour is because the restaurant does not want to go to the trouble of making them.
If you order them at the Zeughauskeller in Zürich, they can come out much more quickly, because they have such a steady demand at this large restaurant that they are always cooking some, for orders yet to come. Their version is not bad, but not the best. Unfortunately, they also tend to undercook so that the flavor does not develop in them and they seem (in my personal opinion) to use a "trick" to make them crisp before they are cooked to the perfect degree. That trick is used in the USA at fast-food restaurants to make extra crisp french fried potatoes.....the potatoes are lightly coated with potato starch before cooking, and an especially crisp "skin" is created during the high temperature cooking process. They become crisp with less cooking time. At least, the Rösti at the Zeughauskeller have tasted that way to me for the past few years, so I don't order them there anymore.
Properly cooked plain Rösti are a golden color ranging to light brown and taste of well-cooked potatoes and butter. They are crisp on the outside and well cooked but tender on the inside. They are not dry to the palate. They form a coherent patty. They are not mushy, the individual pieces of potatoes adhere lightly to one another but are discrete. The patty can be broken apart easily with a fork. If overcooked they may have a dark brown hard crust, which is also acceptable if it is not too thick.
The can be served alone, as a vegetarian dish. In years past, in the winter i the deep valleys, potatoes were one of the vegetables that could be kept in the cellar, and a simple dish of Rösti would be a mainstay of winter existence. In the Emmental, they always accompany certain meat dishes, as a tradition. In the French speaking region, you would get "frites" as a mattter of course....Rösti are rarely served.
They also may incorporate some onions, shredded meat, bacon, or other ingredients, and have cheese in them or on them, as well as a fried egg on top. Years ago, there was "Rösti-bar" in Zürich main station where you could get 25 or so variations. Most did not appeal to me. I like plain Rösti, sometimes called "Butterrösti."
Sometimes, in the Valais, at the newly managed beer garden above Raron, I have had them undercooked with lots of onions in them. I did not like those. After two tries I don't order them any more.
And, cooking them cannot be rushed. They'll burn on the outside before the inside is correctly cooked.
The actual cooking process takes about 15 -20 minutes if you do it at home; restaurants have some tricks to make it a little faster.
Why could they take an hour? Because, if the restaurant usually makes french fries - called "frites" by the French or "chips" by the English - they can cook them in about 5 minutes. Open a bag and pour them into the hot oil fryer. They don't want to make Rösti because they take too long and it is a labor intensive process requiring some care... . So, you get told..."it will take an hour".
The taste and quality seem to vary from restaurant to restaurant, which surprises me since in concept Rösti are a simple dish, consisting of potatoes and butter. But, certain restaurants in the Emmental always make much better Rösti than others here and there. The restaurant at the scenic viewpoint at Uto-Staffel above Zürich on Uetliberg does a good job, too.
So does this restaurant-
but it is expensive and hard to get into. Theirs are worth a detour.
That is what I have learned after 30+ years traveling in Switzerland and eating a lot of Rösti.
If you are there for a while, you may hear or read the word der Graben. Der Graben means the ditch or trench. It is relates to the English word "grave."
There is kind of a joke, created by the press, to call the dividing line between the French-speaking area and the German-speaking area "der Röstigraben." On the French side, they eat "frites," on the German side, they eat "Rösti." Certain political trends tend to be identified with one side or the other of the language divide, and, the short-hand saying comment in the newspaper might say ...."...on the other side of the Röstigraben, they voted against that referendum...."
Enjoy the Rösti... you'll find good ones that don't take an hour.
By the way, one of the best known and longest exisiting vegetarian restaurants in Switzerland is "Hiltl" in Zürich: