Bill and I currently live just five kilometers from an adorable town called Nagold. These days, we spend a fair amount of time there, the same way we used to spend a lot of time in Tübingen when we lived in Germany the first time. I used to think Tübingen was the bomb! I still do, but in some ways, I like Nagold better. It’s smaller, less crowded, less expensive to visit on weekends (on account of cheap or free parking), and there are some wonderful restaurants there.
Last weekend, we visited Luz Bistro, which is a casual but very nice restaurant in the old Alte Post hotel in the middle of town. There is also a more formal restaurant called the Alte Post in the building. The Luz Bistro and Bar is open every day for lunch and dinner, while the Alte Post restaurant is only open from Wednesday to Saturday from 6:30pm. Edited to add: The Alte Post is now closed.
Although we’ve been eating at the Luz Bistro for a couple of years now, I hadn’t actually noticed the more formal restaurant until I started reading the Web site for Nagold’s charming hotel landmark (which, I gather, is no longer a hotel). When I read about the more formal dining option, I decided Bill and I needed to pay a visit. Last night, we went… and we had a glorious five course meal! And we also spent lots of euros! Fortunately, credit cards are allowed at the Alte Post. Otherwise, we might have had to wash dishes!
Bill approaches the impressive front door. Last night’s menu was posted outside, but it’s also posted online. The Alte Post restaurant offers tasting menus, which means that diners are all offered the same thing. For that reason, I recommend checking out the menu before you book a reservation to make sure you’ll like what is being offered on a given night.
I love this old building and its ornate decorations.
We reserved a table for 7:00pm, but we were about twenty minutes early. It was not a problem. The proprietor, who is ever present whenever we’ve visited, led us to a large table set for two. Looking around the dining room, I could see that there were only a few tables set up for five different parties. Besides us, there were two other couples. There was also a group of three and another, larger group in the next room. This is the kind of restaurant where you really should book ahead to avoid disappointment. I would go as far as saying that reservations are a must.
A first glance at the dining room. The vibe is different upstairs than it is in the downstairs bistro.
Last night’s menu… They do have menus in English, for which I was grateful. I still ate calf’s brains, though.
Patrons can choose between three and seven courses and portions are sized accordingly. A three course menu was 68 euros per person. The whole seven course menu was 128 euros. We also opted for the wine pairing, which added another 40 euros per person, but was well worth doing. If you opt for only a few courses, you don’t get to choose which ones you get. At the bottom of the menu, there is an explanation of which courses come with the 3, 4, 5, or 6 course meals. Bill and I went for five courses because we thought it would be enough… and also, there were a couple of courses that I had a feeling I wouldn’t enjoy.
We started with glasses of locally produced sekt and some very interesting Spanish almonds that appeared to have been fried in some type of Parmesan. I had to restrain myself from eating too many of those, especially when I saw the amuse.
This was the very elaborate amuse. I admit to simply nibbling the foie gras to say I’d tried it. It was surprisingly tasty, but I have a bit of an aversion to foie gras.
We had a small panoply of little treats. A lime rind was stuffed with ricotta cheese and tuna and topped with roe. There was a spoon full of foie gras, which tasted curiously like chocolate pudding and cherry ice cream and was topped with a piece of popcorn. A shrimp chip, the same kind you might find in a bar, was topped with a shrimp. There was also a piece of sushi and an eggshell full of red carrot soup. The bread you see pictured above was absolutely heavenly. It was a potato bread, lightly salted on top and served hot with butter. Oh, it was sooo good. In fact, I think the bread might have been my favorite part of the meal, but I love bread.
Our first course was raw lamb marinated in tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Bill loved it and I thought it tasted really good. The meat was very fresh. Bill is more adventurous than I am, so he enjoyed this course very much. I appreciated it, but like my meats more well done. We drank a locally produced white wine with this course.
Had we ordered all seven courses, the next selection would have been lobster with ox tail and truffle. Bill loves truffles, but I don’t care for them at all. And judging by the fact that I could smell them all the way across the room, it was probably a good thing we skipped the lobster. Had Bill been dining with a truffle fan, it would have been a big hit.
Next came turbot with Jerusalem artichoke, onion, and kalbskopf… Kalbskopf is calf’s brain. Believe it or not, it was actually very good. I was temporarily entertained by the sperm like decorations on the plate. A chardonnay, heavy on the butter and sour apples, paired quite nicely with the turbot.
Next came salmon with chickpeas, eggplant, and miso. I loved this course for its simplicity and the crispy little wasabi flavored bits on top of the fish. This course came with an impressive Riesling made exclusively for the Alte Post.
Course number four was veal, which was served with broccoli, delicious smoked fish, and barley. The barley reminded me a bit of polenta. It was very good. I don’t usually eat veal, but I will say the little bit we had last night was beautifully prepared and could have been cut with a spoon. This was paired with a delightful rioja, heavy on the cherries.
We skipped the next course, which was dove served with olive, cranberry, and vegetable sauce. I might have been open to trying dove. Maybe some other time I’ll get the chance, now that I’ve tasted calf’s brains.
Ahhh… dessert! My favorite course! This was chocolate and passionfruit with a bit of banana sorbet and topped with little crunchy cookies. Delicious! And there was nothing too foreign about it, either. This was paired with a lovely sweet sauternes.
And finally, another little amuse… this one full of sweets! There was a lemon rind full of cardamom and curry scented cream (which is a lot better than it might sound), apricot with cream, and Turkish delight. We also had espresso.
Just before the bill came, the proprietor offered us a digestive of locally produced Mirabelle, which is a brandy from Alsace made of plums. It was delightfully smooth. I think she told us it was also made specifically for her restaurant.
The wines went beautifully with each course, although the pairing did add a significant amount to the final bill, which totaled over 300 euros before the tip. We also had sekt and two bottles of water, which added to the bill. Needless to say, partly due to the cost, this is not an experience we will enjoy often, but I do think the Alte Post restaurant would make for an excellent splurge or special occasion place. The Alte Post also has special dinners regularly that feature wines or are in celebration of certain holidays. I could certainly see us coming back again for any of those! I am especially intrigued by their wine dinners, which are usually advertised on their Web site.
Overall, we had a lovely dinner and we both ventured a bit outside our culinary comfort zones. Everything I tasted, even the stuff I wouldn’t normally choose on a menu, I enjoyed to some extent. I generally hate the taste of foie gras, but last night, I would not have known I was eating foie gras if no one had told me. Ditto for the calf’s brains! I may have to add the Alte Post to my list of great date night restaurants, although I also really enjoy the Luz Bistro downstairs, which offers less expensive and somewhat less exotic choices.
This was us before we left. No one makes me smile the way Bill does.