Ha, this is not a Frankfurt restaurant strictly speaking, you might say and you are right. Großfeld’s Gastraum der Sinne is located in Dorheim, a part of Friedberg about 20 minutes from Frankfurt. But, my files files intend to give you some orientation on your journey to culinary delights when you are in and around Frankfurt. Maybe the “around” enlargement is due to the fact that in Frankfurt itself good fine dining is rather rare.
So, after King Kamehameha Suite I will this time report a very good experience especially as it is a new and relaxed concept for a Michelin starred restaurant in Germany. Not a bistro in the strictest sense but the atmosphere is close. Clearly, it is more upscale than the Bistronomias but in a way it tries to transport the same vibes…
Finding this place is not as difficult as getting to Mugaritz or Extebarri but it is not too easy. Unlike for the former two a solid navigation will do. Be sure to bring a rather small car as parking space is limited.
From the outside it reminds me a bit of Amador as it seems to be a normal residential buiding, yet not as old and timbered as in Langen. The interior is much different then: you have basically one large room painted red equipped with bistro-like furniture. The service brigade is young and not as polished as usual making it overall a very pleasurable atmosphere. As I frequently hear it really takes away the fear of the unknown for people new to starred restaurants. A look around on a normal day affirms this as the average age is much lower and people are dressed up more casually. I stress that as it is important to attract new and younger people to our beloved restaurants which is accomplished here.
André Großfeld is one of the new generation chefs in Germany, now aged 31. He began his career as an apprentice at Alfons Schuhbeck‘s Kurhaus am See in Waging (Bavaria). After two years in Hamburg he returned there and worked as a sous-chef for Schubeck. Schubeck then sent him to Egelsbach near Frankfurt to oversee and built up the operations there. He fell in love with Stifanka Kurbasa who made him return to the Rhine-Main region after he he worked with Hans Haas at Tantris. Short chapters at the Brick (where he met Volker Drkosch, another promising younger chef, who is quite experimental) and the successor New Brick followed before he finally opened his own restaurant in 2005 (one star since November 2006, still ignored from the Gault Millau).
Why is this short bio important? First, the classic cooking of Schubeck and Haas still clearly shines in Großfeld’s style as of today. Very product-oriented without big chichi. Second, especially Schubeck is a promoter of regional cuisine and products. Thus, from time to time some Hessian elements find their way on the menu at Großfeld’s, he is part of the TV show “Hessen a la carte” and has published a book on young Hessian cuisine (together with Mirco Reeh). Third, the collaboration with Volker Drkosch seems to have directed his cuisine towards pairing unusual ingredients, but unlike Drkosch without many molecular elements. Both the modern and classic approach had been reflected in the traditional and in the experimental menus served at our last visit.
We ordered both menus priced at €84 for 6 courses, had very nice Riesling Sekt (sparkling wine) from Molitor and a negligible amuse consisting of three non-coherent parts.
My first course in the experimental menu was roasted st. jacques served with an orange ragout and tonka bean air. Based on a very good product which was carefully roasted this created a wonderful accord of sweetness, acidity and the vanilla/coffee flavour of the tonka bean. Texture was provided by the al dente green beans. A light and yet intense starter – very good to excellent.
The traditional menu started off with a roasted cod with smoked potato puree and chives jus. A very solid dish, conceptually sound and well prepared. Smoky potatoes are fashionable these days (Passard does it for quite some time now;-)) but the chives brought an refreshing element on the plate. Very good.
Second course on the experimental menu: st. pierre with radicchio risotto, pesto of green sauce and pine nuts. There was the glimpse of Hessian cuisine as the green sauce is a Frankfurt specialty, consisting of an assortment of green herbs and traditionally served with eggs. For me, this was the dish of the night – serving it with al dente and slightly caramelized onion was the ace in the hole. This brought texture and balance to the dish. Excellent.
Second course on the traditional side was Mediterranean: bar de ligne with a ragout of fennel and tomato with lardo. At my first visit I had a spectacular frogfish (the one fish Mr Kohnke, editor-in-chief of Gault Millau Germany, hates so much) with lardo cubes. Here, Großfeld added the lardo in the jus to counterbalance the strong fennel and tomato. And, the bar had enough texture and roast flavour to stand up against it. Very good.
Third on the experimental side was a roasted foie gras with red cabbage puree, marinated field salad and baked dumpling of goose. Although an interesting combination the roasted foie was not of best quality and thus made it hard for Großfeld to achieve the expected “explosion dans la bouche”. And it was a tad overcooked. The dumpling, however, was brilliant and I ended up eating only the dumpling with the nice red cabbage. Good.
Tradition 3: game consommé with vegetables and porcini espuma. Good, but the porcini could have been more intense.
What I kind of like is that Grossfeld very often has more than one meet course in his menus – same here, we continued with veal sweetbread braised in vanilla with a puree of Jerusalem artichoke and glaced rasperries (experimental)
and braised beef cheek with celery puree and braised vegetables (traditional). Both preparations were good, flavours strong and intense and the glaced rasberry gave the extra kick in the sweetbread dish.
The mains: three preparations of venison with glaced chestnuts and roquefort-pear tarte. Hold on, three? There are only two versions of venison on the plate, a tender back fillet and a rissole – the third braised element was out-of-stock. The roquefort ice cream was so strong that it dominated the whole dish completely – here, he had gone too far. Never mind, I just left it aside and enjoyed the rest which was impeccably prepared. Due to the roquefort-pear experiment only an ok dish.
For the traditional menu: veal back fillet gratinated with winter truffles, salsify and speck dumplings. I didn’t try it but my companion stated: yummy and excellent. What a generous dish!
Desserts: I always wondered why Großfeld had been serving only a non-coherent parade of desserts the single elements of which are always quite good but it lacks some conceptual rigor. Maybe a concession to first-timers at his restaurant? I think he can do much better than… Also this time we got an assortiment of sweet elements, all good.