Believe it or not, until Friday afternoon of this past week, Bill and I had tentative plans to go back to Wiesbaden for more househunting. We found a few more contenders in our housing search and had contacted potential landlords about showings. But when a couple of them were late getting back to us, we decided not to leave town. That left us with no plans for Saturday.
We also got up later than usual and, as the day wore on, I decided not to get dressed. That’s not unusual. I often hang around the house in my nightie if I’ve got nothing to do and no one to see. That’s one reason why I hate it when people drop by unexpectedly.
At about 1:00pm, I asked Bill if he’d like to go out to dinner somewhere. He was up for it, so I started searching OpenTable for restaurants. Then, I noticed the restaurant Top Air was listed and had availability at 6:00pm. I had been curious about Stuttgart Airport’s fancy restaurant for ages, and it had also been ages since Bill and I last had any haute cuisine. Bill was game for a Saturday night visit to the airport, so I made the reservation.
Smart casual dress is suggested for Top Air. I needed a new selfie anyway, so I got all dolled up in my trusty black dress, jewelry, and a shawl. Bill put on a nice shirt and a jacket. We noticed other patrons also dressed up a little to visit this restaurant, though several were in casual clothes. No one was turned away for dressing down, though, so if you decide to try Top Air, feel free to wear jeans and sneakers if it pleases you.
We arrived at the airport at about 5:45pm and parked in P4, one of the suggested parking garages. Top Air will validate your parking ticket so you don’t have to pay. That’s a nice touch. The restaurant is in Terminal One, on the second level, right next to the much more casual Red Baron restaurant. I remember eating there when we lived here the first time. I didn’t know about Top Air in those days, but apparently Top Air has been putting out top flight food for twenty-six years and has a Michelin star to prove it.
Below are some pictures and commentary about our “top flight” cuisine at Top Air!
You don’t have to go into the main entrance at the airport to access this restaurant. There’s a side door up a couple of flights of stairs to the right of the first revolving door in Terminal One. Climb those steps and you can avoid the ticket counters and luggage drop off booths.
Here’s the main entrance… We were warmly welcomed by a very pretty young server who was dressed in a sleek black dress with a jacket. She invited us to our table, a four top that had a ticket with our name on it.
I guess this is one reason why you shouldn’t walk into Top Air. They had pre-printed a “boarding pass” for us. When they realized we were English speakers, they whisked this one away and brought one back in English. It wasn’t necessary, but we appreciated the effort.
We were the first ones to arrive for dinner at Top Air last night. It turned out they booked every table, though most people tend to come later than we did. Bill and I don’t like to stay out really late anymore, so early reservations are good for us. I think you’re more likely to get a table if you go earlier, although to be honest, I’m not sure if Top Air always books every table. I counted just eight tables in the dining room, though, so if you want to eat during prime time, you should plan ahead. Also, plan to spend at least a couple of hours. We were there for about three hours and we only did three courses.
The head waiter/sommelier was a very proper German man who spoke perfect English. He struck me as being kind of nervous. After he poured aperitifs for us, he started compulsively walking around the dining room, as if he was pacing. It made me a little nervous, too. I watched him pace a bit and listened to the smooth jazz piped in over the sound system.
I had a lovely glass of rose Champagne. Bill had a Campari with soda. I liked the dining room, which allows prime viewing of planes landing.
Top Air offers a tasting menu, as well as a la carte dishes. You can have between 3 and 5 courses if you order the tasting menu. They had a suggested menu that I wasn’t going to go for because several courses had either mushrooms or goose liver in them. I may enjoy high class food sometimes, but there are a few items I just can’t abide. I’d sooner eat the liver than the mushrooms, though.
I told the head waiter/sommelier that I don’t eat mushrooms, and this sort of turned into a big deal… To be honest, it was a little embarrassing. He gave me the third degree about whether or not I have an allergy or I just don’t like mushrooms. I don’t have an allergy to mushrooms; however, I do have a phobia of them, which makes me extremely averse to having them on my plate. I won’t run screaming from the dining room (anymore, anyway), but I’d really rather not have to deal with them. If we’re paying 50 euros or more a head for dinner, I expect that not to be a problem.
The sommelier was very concerned about my dislike of mushrooms and kept questioning me about it. I really didn’t want to have to explain to him that what I have is mycophobia, which is a real thing… but it’s very embarrassing to talk about because it’s irrational and ridiculous. The fact that it’s irrational and ridiculous is, of course, what makes it a phobia. Suffice to say, my dislike of fungus goes way beyond not enjoying the flavor of them. However, having once worked as a server myself, I understood the waiter’s concern. The last thing he wants to deal with is anaphylactic shock during dinner service. (Edited to add: My German friend Susanne tells me that many years ago, the sommelier/head waiter, Ralf Pinzenscham, got his training at Ente, a Michelin starred restaurant in Wiesbaden. One more clue we were destined to move there eventually, right?)
Anyway… once we established and thoroughly discussed my psychotic hatred of mushrooms, we got on with dinner, which turned out to be pretty special… Before we started this course, a group of three showed up. They appeared to be the head waiter’s long lost friends, as all three of them gave him a hug and he warmly welcomed them. I noticed they had what appeared to be all five courses. And, like me, the man in the group was taking a lot of photos! I always worry I’m going to look tacky when I photograph food in a restaurant. I suppose that behavior is the least of my tacky behavior, though, so it’s no big deal.
The amuse– a little gift from the kitchen, which consisted of sushi of arctic char with soy sauce and algae, tartar of Blackmore Waygu beef with beet root and horseradish, and tuna with lettuce, celery, green apple and cucumber.
Then, the bread arrived, with butter, salt, and olive oil.
Bill studied the wine list and chose a lovely French red made of grenache…
The food at Top Air is probably among the most beautiful I’ve seen, and I have been to quite a few Michelin starred restaurants in Europe. Chef Marco Akuzun is truly as much of an artist as he is a culinary expert. I noticed that other tables were getting little cards with pictures on them placed in the little stand where our boarding card was. We didn’t get the cards. It might have been because we were having different items and/or the explanations were in German. We didn’t mind, though. It was just fun to watch the other people.
A lovely Bouillabaisse– fish stew, which came with every meal. This one had a little heat to it, as well as salmon that melted in my mouth.
My first course was the tuna, which was served two ways. I started with this tiny, yet exquisite tuna bite.
While Bill started with the goose liver pate. I hadn’t noticed at first…
This was a skull! And it was filled with goose liver pate and presented on a plate that made me think of a stage. Notice the balsamic vinegar dots, forming a star like decoration. That skull was the star! Bill doesn’t usually go for liver, but he said it tasted like candy.
The second half of the tuna course, which was very fresh raw tuna served with coriander, radish, and wasabi flavored ice cream. There was also this little white ball that resembled an unusually round boiled egg. It was not an egg, but some sort of gelatinous casing that contained tofu. It was very interesting in a good way. I don’t usually eat tofu.
This was the second part of the goose liver…
And this was the third part of the goose liver. I was amazed by how beautiful it was, even if I didn’t taste it. It was really too pretty to eat! Bill said he enjoyed it, although I don’t think goose liver rates any higher on his choice of cuisines.
To be clear, there were other choices available than goose liver, but Bill decided he wanted to break out of his comfort zone. I think he’s glad he did, even if it was just to be served such aesthetically pleasing food. It really was gorgeous… and priced accordingly!
We both had duck for our second courses. This was an exquisitely grilled piece of duck breast served with a little wonton of duck tongue (which tasted better than it sounds), bok choy, pineapple, kimchi, and sweet potato. Again, the sweet potato came in a perfectly round, egg like ball, which I am guessing was made with gelatin. I don’t usually eat a lot of sweet potato, but I really appreciated the way this was presented. The kimchi, on the other hand, had very strong flavors that momentarily upset my stomach a bit. After a moment composing myself in the restroom, I was okay.
This was the wine we enjoyed with our meal… I will have to find this to purchase, because it was very good. Bill is especially partial to grenache and Chateauneuf du Pape. This wine was very much like a Chateauneuf du Pape.
A couple of shots of the pre-dessert; again, it comes with the meal. This was mostly green apple, with cucumber and coriander. In the center was this heavenly explosion of vanilla goodness. I was really taken by surprise. The candy accents had a eucalyptus accent that reminded me– no lie– of cough drops. But somehow, it worked. And the little discs on the ends had tiny leaves of coriander within them.
And finally, dessert. I took a photo of mine and Bill’s, even though they were the same. Mine looked it it had a face. This was a white chocolate inspired dessert, with rosemary and lime…
But they weren’t finished. We were allowed to choose chocolates from this tray…
And then we were presented with this delightful tray of sweets that ranged from little ice cream cones to tiny cannoli. Dessert was quite the show stopper.
These were the chocolates I chose. I think I liked the gold one, which was a peanut candy, the best.
We happened to finish dinner right as the other diners were in full swing. Consequently, it took some time before we could settle the bill. I entertained myself by checking out the very fancy stiletto heels another guest was wearing. They were at least five inches and encrusted with rhinestones. I thought they were beautiful, but I can’t wear heels like that for longer than a minute. I was impressed by how comfortable and steady she appeared to be in those shoes. God bless her– I would have been crying uncle after a few steps!
The bill came to 253 euros. Bill was able to pay with a credit card and, after we got our parking ticket validated, we left feeling pretty great. All in all, I’d say it was a very interesting and mostly pleasant experience. I could have done without the huge deal made over my mushroom aversion. I truly wish I didn’t have this problem; it would make dining out so much easier. Unfortunately, mushroom hatred is my cross to bear. Good thing I abandoned my plans to become a chef.
This is what the Stuttgart airport looks like on Saturday night.
I took note of this interesting ad while I waited for Bill to pick me up.
We enjoyed visiting Top Air and I’m glad we made the effort to go, even if it didn’t quite top my favorite five star restaurant in these parts. That would be Alte Post in Nagold, which unfortunately closed because of a lack of qualified staff. We were lucky enough to have the formal tasting menu twice at Alte Post and it was both the most expensive and most exquisite meal either of us has had yet.
I will say, though, that I was truly impressed by how stunningly beautiful the food is at Top Air. Service is mostly very professional and attentive. I never wanted for wine or water and the staff was mostly very polished. If you like fancy cuisine and want to try Top Air, I would recommend it. I just hope you like mushrooms.