Today’s post will probably be kind of long and potentially convoluted. I did promise some people that I would return and report after Bill and I tried Delice, a tiny and wonderful restaurant in downtown Stuttgart. Here I am with the story! I hope you’ll bear with me!
Our tale begins at the beginning of last week. It was a few days before our wedding anniversary and we were trying to figure out where to celebrate. Bill had heard of Delice, which is a tiny place that puts out amazing food. Neither of us had been before, so we didn’t know just how tiny it is. He called Delice and spoke to a very winsome man who told us that his restaurant was completely booked for the night of our anniversary. Then he asked if we could make it on Wednesday of this week. Bill said that was possible, so our charming host reserved a table for us at 7:30pm.
Bill got home from work a little bit early so we could brave the Stuttgart traffic. I broke out my glad rags and pearls and Bill exchanged his sweater vest for a blazer. Off we went. The first mishap involved me trying to get my iPod to work. This may not seem like a big deal, but I’m pretty serious about my music in the car. I also hate German pop. I hate the current trend of American pop too, when it comes down to it. Finally, after unplugging and replugging in the dark, restarting the car and restarting the iPod, it started working.
We passed through Herrenberg and directly landed in a very frustrating Stau that took about thirty extra minutes to get through. Someone had an accident and it had backed up traffic. Bill and I are very punctual and lack patience, so we were getting a bit annoyed by the delay. I was sitting in the front seat thanking God that I don’t have to deal with that mess on the daily. I think I noticed an U-bahn station somewhat close to Delice, but Bill thought it probably wouldn’t have been convenient to use it. Next time, maybe we’ll study that option more, especially given what happened after dinner.
We got to the Parkhaus right next to Delice at about 7:45. We parked the car. I had a bad feeling because all of the spaces had numbers over them, which makes me think they’re reserved. I didn’t have time to think too much about it, though, because we had to rush off to our dinner reservation.
After finding the restaurant, we walked through a tiny courtyard and down a few steps into what looked like a darkly lit former bomb shelter. The host who had taken our reservation, name of Evangelos Pattas, met us at the door after warning us about a tricky last step. Pattas was very welcoming and asked if he should speak English or German. He and a colleague then took our coats and showed us to a spacious two top against the wall. On either side of us, there were two guys enjoying dinner. I counted two large tables, perhaps large enough for four to six people. The other four tables were two tops. One two top was unbooked last night. Aside from me, there was only one other woman in the restaurant last night.
Bill gazed at his lovely wife. Then he went to use the men’s room. The restrooms are tiny– just one stall. The ladies room was equipped with rolled up towels, eau de toilette, and hand lotion. They also brought us steamy hot towels before dinner started. I was distracted by my phone and didn’t notice at first when the assistant offered me a towel.
Prior to visiting the restaurant, Bill had sent an email telling the staff (which consists of the chef, the sommelier, and an assistant) about any food allergies or sensitivities we have. The chef requests this for planning purposes. Bill told him about my mushroom hatred, although I think he said I have allergies, which I don’t. Because Bill had written the email in German, but the proprietor had spoken to him in English on the phone, he said he’d wondered about us. He did schmooze a bit, asking where we were from and what Bill’s job is.
Pattas explained that the menu is up to five courses and they would like to “surprise” us, although the menu was posted outside. I’ve become somewhat wary of surprise dishes, since our visit to Five in Stuttgart two years ago. But I saw the guys sitting next to us getting their dishes and decided to trust the chef, Andreas Hettinger. We also opted for the wine pairing, though I noticed they had a selection of different liquors available.
Chef Hettinger works in a tiny kitchen that can be viewed by everyone in the restaurant. The “bar”, such as it is, basically consists of a bank of assorted bottles. As I mentioned previously, it’s a very small venue. I was amazed by how such a tiny place could put out such amazing culinary creations. I started with a glass of champagne, while Bill had a locally produced white wine from the Bodensee. His wine was crisp with a strong essence of pears, while my champagne was dry as air and really hit the spot after our stressful drive into Stuttgart.
We started with the amuse. Two spoons had tiny crustinis with beef tartare on them. The other two had smoked salmon and curry. It was the first time either of us had ever had beef tartare, which is raw meat. I have to admit it was surprisingly delicious.
Next came this little cup of bisque. It tasted like lobster with lots of butter and a touch of sherry. Again, absolutely stunning. I would love to have this next time I’m in need of something warm and comforting. The flavors were so delicate.
Out came the bread. We had walnut bread, pumpkin seed bread, and a plain baguette served with salt free butter. Our host pointed out the salt in a little dish that came from a river in Australia. I didn’t try it, though, because the butter on its own was so good. I love bread, so I have to be careful not to fill up on it.
Next came two red shrimp perched upon greens with a red pepper sauce, black garlic, and avocado… It was paired with a spunky Sauvignon Blanc that I loved.
We had beautiful halibut with water chestnuts, quinoa, curry, and cauliflower. This was paired with a local Riesling from Mainz.
Next came scallops, which the chef had kindly prepared sans fungus for me. Bill’s version included black truffle, and you can see him above, enjoying the aroma. It was topped with an essence of blood wurst and chervil tuber. To be honest, I think this was my first experience with chervil tuber. It seemed to add more texture than flavor to this dish. The blood wurst reminded me very slightly of haggis in flavor only. It’s probably best not to think too long about what either haggis or blood wurst is.
Finally, we had venison, which was so tender you could probably cut it with a spoon. Bill’s version came with mushrooms– black chanterelles. It had a sweet crust made with plums, as well as parsley root. By this point, I was starting to get a bit full. The hour was getting fairly late, too. This was paired with a local pinot noir that had sort of a fruit punch essence to it. It was about 9:45pm.
Next came a pre dessert, a delicious light cream with minced mangos on the bottom…
And then dessert, a Valrhona truffle cake with more chervil, muscovado, red beet ice cream, and grapes. I think our host also mentioned that this dessert included spinach, which would have been a first for me. We had a lovely Italian cherry dessert wine with this. It was a very pleasing ending for a sumptuous meal.
We enjoyed petit fours (chocolate and strawberry candies) and espresso while we surveyed the bill, which came to 343 euros before the tip. That was about what we paid last week at Nagold’s Alte Post, where we celebrated our anniversary. I would say food quality wise, last night’s meal was absolutely on par with last week’s anniversary dinner at Alte Post. The flavors were very unique and worked beautifully together. Service was impeccable and the wine pairings were outstanding. It’s a very good choice for a special occasion dinner if you’re looking for really good food and wine.
If I were to compare the two experiences, I think I liked Alte Post slightly more for a few reasons. First of all, there’s the fact that it’s very close to where we live, so there was no need to sit in traffic for an hour to get there. Also, parking was not an issue in Nagold (I’ll get to that story soon).
I liked the fact that the tables at the Alte Post were spread out, so I never felt like I was inconveniencing anyone when I needed to get up to use the ladies room. At Delice, you have tables that are right next to each other. You can hear other conversations and, if you’re not particularly slim, run the risk of annoying people next to you as you scoot between the tables to use the restroom. Fortunately, the men sitting near us were very nice and even said goodbye to us in English!
I did enjoy the “bomb shelter” look of Delice. I noticed they played Sade on repeat all evening. It sounded like a few of the same songs playing over and over again. Most people wouldn’t notice because it wasn’t turned up very loud, but I’m a musical person. Fortunately, the songs they chose were good ones and lent to the ambiance appropriately.
After we paid, our host helped us with our coats and we headed off into the night… only to be met with a closed parking garage! The doors were locked because the garage closed at 9:00pm. The gate was down. Bill started talking about taking a cab all the way back to our little town outside of Herrenberg. I had unpleasant images of having to drive back to Stuttgart this morning to get my car or even it being towed. Then I started thinking maybe we’d just find a hotel because our dogs would survive. But then we went back to Delice and the host told Bill to just go to the bar at the end of the block and ask for help. Apparently, that’s where the workers park their cars and they work late.
So that’s what we did. We walked into this very cool looking bar near Delice and told the bartender, who spoke English, that our car was stuck in the garage. He showed us how to access the Parkhaus; I was right about the numbers meaning spaces were reserved, although it wasn’t a problem last night. Next time, we’ll know to go down a level. Bill paid 15 euros, got his ticket, and popped it into the machine. Much to our relief, the gate rose and we got home at about 12:30am. The drive home took much less time, too. 😉
All in all, I can say that we did enjoy Delice very much. The inventively prepared food is absolutely exquisite and the service is outstanding. The wine pairings were particularly impressive. I’m glad the wines were noted on our bill, since I have a feeling we may want to look for some of them locally. Mr. Pattas was keen for me to spread the word about his restaurant and I am happy to do it. If you want a very lovely meal in Stuttgart, I recommend Delice. Just be ready to spend some time and money and, if your car gets stuck in the Parkhaus after hours, don’t panic.