After all the recent praises you might wonder whether I would ever again report about bad meals (remember King Kamehameha and Can Fabes!). Contrary to professional restaurant testers I can choose the restaurants I visit and most of the time I choose wisely, especially in the last months 🙂 So don’t be disappointed that another highlight will follow now… (Actually I had two quite dissatisfactory meals whereas I will not report on the first as it is not worth the effort and maybe needs some double-checking on the second).
In the last months a lot of foodies approached me to get insights about how Germany’s new three star chef Sven Elverfeld is doing at Aqua. Although I had been to Wolfsburg in November last year for the International Food & Wine Festival (a very good diner of Passard by the way) I had not eaten the creations of Sven Elverfeld since November 07 when the third star was clearly in sight. Time for an update…
The Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg
After a couple of meals last year at Christian Bau’s Schloss Berg I followed Trine’s example of taking a break to see how the cuisine develops over some time. But, sooner that I thought the idea came up to show very good friends of mine real three star cooking and somehow Schloss Berg appeared as the perfect venue (honi soit qui mal y pense…)
The interior of the restaurant has been completely refurbished in January while they were closed and now really fits to the more contemporary and modern cuisine of Christian Bau. I particularly liked the new chairs which had been exclusively made for the restaurant. You can exit without having to move the chair by just turning the upper part… Very comfortable…
A Reflection of Bau's Cuisine
The Haeberlin family and their restaurant Auberge de L’Ill is a culinary monument carrying three stars since 1967. Generations of chefs have been trained by Paul Haeberlin who died last year in May at the age of 84. A big chapeau for his lifework!
Our experience? Well, it was Spring and we had the pleasure to have our champagne outside on the terrace with an amazing view on the Ill. It looks like they have created this postcard romantic especially for the restaurant. Across the river there was a small boat and some fisherman and we really wondered how much they get paid for being so authentic.
On the inside they have modernized the ambience in 2007 – now it is really a benchmark location – just have a look here.
I opted for the Menu Haeberlin – six courses for €148 and exchanged the lamb main for ris de veau. As a first course I had Le cocktail de chair de tourteau, guacamole, mousse légère d’oursin et gelée de crabe. This was probably one of the best cold starters I had so far. Different textures, light sweetness (the gucacamole), acidity and amazingly fresh elements and a rich and intense crab gelee on the bottom made this dish really outstanding.
Chair de Tourteau, Guacamole, Oursin et Crabe
Shortly after my visit to the Vendôme I had the possibility to get an update of how Juan Amador’s cuisine has developed since my last visit in May. And, I must say that all but two dishes in the main menu were new to me. After the meal I am still stunned how much progress he has made in refining and elaborating his distinct style. So, another prime example of the significant and positive developments in Germany.
Located in Langen about 20 minutes south of Frankfurt the Restaurant Amador is not easy to find as it is not inside a prestigious castle or hotel like most of the other German top restaurants. Instead it is situated in a typical timbered house in the centre of Langen (for some pictures I owe special thanks to Julot and to Sternefresser where indicated).
The Restaurant (thanks to Julot)
Looking back, I always had great dinners at Schloss Berg but my recent experience clearly exceeded my high expectations by far. All in all, previously it was a classic french cuisine ingeniously delivered, beautifully assembled with an emphasis on creating a unique broad flavourful picture. In January this year we still had some variations (of langoustine, foie) which had been delicious but sometimes too complex and overloaded. What a difference now…
But first things first – for those of you not yet familiar with Christian Bau and the restaurant Victor’s at Schloss Berg some facts…
Born in Offenburg in the northern part of the Black Forest Chistian Bau is still very rooted to this beautiful part of Germany (Baden – I have to admit I am also from Baden but does not affect my judgement;-)). It is said that people from Baden are modest and passinonate about what their doing something I would also ascribe to Christian Bau.
During a six week internship (or stage) at the Hotel Götz Sonne Eintracht at the age of 14 he was so fascinated by cooking that he came back at 16 to start a three year apprenticeship. In the hotel kitchen he acquired a classic fundament for his cuisine – solid craftsmanship which today is rare in a “normal” hotel kitchen… Maybe more importantly Christian met his future wife Yildiz at Götz…
Yildiz & Christian Bau
Before I go on and turn to eating adventures in Germany there is one more reference I want to share. During our B/NL trip we this year finally managed to eat at Hof van Cleve (HvC) in Kruishoutem near Gent in Belgium.
I came across Peter Goossens not before Juli 2005 when he was Chef of the Month in the German magazine “Der Feinschmecker“. His creations looked so amazing, pure and tasty I had to try and cook the proposed three course dinner at once. It nearly killed me, especially the tuna entree with king crab in soy cannelloni with wasabi ice cream. But it was very very good. So, I thought, if something is this good when an amateur like me prepares it, one has to go and eat at his restaurant. (BTW, as Sergio’s creations are more complex I did not even dare to try any recipes of him yet;-))
Another visit at Oud Sluis – even with the danger to bore you a little with my love for Oud Sluis, our menu this year was mind-blowing again and needs to be shared. The overall level was more consistent along the different courses. There are not many restaurants in the world were you encounter outstanding and perfect dishes that often.
The very good news is that Sergio is still constantly working in the kitchen in his search of the ultimate flavor combination and not opening other restaurants or being seen on TV every day. Only his former house has been renovated to give the hungry some shelter in the new guesthouse Chico Y Luna – unfortunately we got to know this too late and had already decided to stay near the beach…
As the weather was brilliant we opted for having our Champagne on the terrace. We started with some nice appetizers. First crap crackers with an aioli dip in which the garlic did not dominate topped with some puffy rice which gave the combination another textural twist as normally encountered (and thus made it interesting)…
To start with a double feature is quite some task. But I can’t write about my very recent visit at Oud Sluis without also giving some details about my first visit almost exactly one year ago (yes, you will find me in Knokke every year around July;-))
Oud Sluis is a treasure in Sluis located in the south-west of the Netherlands on the border to Belgium, six kilometers from Knokke(-Het Zoute, one should add) and about 15 kilometers from Brugge. Sergio Herman’s grandfather once ran a simple restaurant and his parents served informal fish dishes. Since 1990 Sergio is in the kitchen, first supporting his parents before taking over three years later.
From the outside it is somehow unspectacular compared to other more pretentious three star restaurants. Every once in a while you can observe some strangely dressed tourists reading the menu just before the entrance (so part of the terrace), shaking their heads and immediately running away…