As we were planning our weekend away, Bill and I discussed where my birthday dinner should be. I consulted my trusty Open Table app, which I’ve been using for about 19 years… Or, I’ve been using Open Table since 2002. The app hasn’t been around as long. Anyway, it’s helped us find some great restaurants. When we lived in Germany the first time, few places were using it, but now it’s pretty widespread here. I’ve found it especially useful for finding and making reservations at unique, fine dining restaurants.
In Heidelberg, one of the top restaurants on Open Table is Chambao, which is located within eyeshot of the Neckar River, as is its sister restaurant, Chambino. This restaurant’s concept is shared plates– kind of like tapas, but with more of an Asian and African flavor. When we arrived at the restaurant by taxi, the outdoor area was bustling. There was a table open, probably saved for us. We showed the waiter our vaccine certificates and said we were willing to sit inside, which was totally empty. He hadn’t seen the new certificates, as they’re pretty new. But once he saw that they came from the Wallau Apotheke and were in German, he welcomed us inside. Alternatively, those who have had a “Schnell Test” for COVID-19 can also dine indoors.
We sat next to the window to take advantage of the breeze. I looked around at the gorgeous decor– with blue and white tiles, an open kitchen, an impressive bar, and tiled lighting fixtures. From the first minute, we felt right at home, and we proceeded to have an absolutely delightful meal. Below is a photo of the menu offered on Saturday night. Our waiter said it changes weekly.
Since we were splurging, we went for the seven course deal, and paired with a local Riesling that had just arrived at the restaurant that day. Unlike Friday night’s wine, this one was relatively cheap, but also very good. Below are some photos from our dinner at Chambao.
The first three plates to come out were especially surprising. The first plate from the left in the photo with three selections is a melon tomato salad with basil and mint. It was very refreshing and, in fact, I think it was my favorite. I don’t usually like tomatoes by themselves, but these were cherry tomatoes that were sweet, and they went beautifully with the melon. Then the basil and mint made a refreshing sauce. I could have enjoyed that one all day.
The plate in the middle was tuna tatar (tartare) with green apple and tarragon. It was also refreshing and tasty, although not everyone goes for tatar (raw). I enjoyed it, as well as the third dish, which was a ceviche made with kingfish and shrimp, celery, and calamari with dill.
Next, we had a black tiger prawn with wasabi, mango, and Thai vinaigrette, followed by plate number five, “Fjord” trout with fennel salad, fermented milk and cucumbers. The trout was extremely tender and flavorful, and again, served cool. I was a little worried about the pork belly with plum wine, lemon grass, and green papaya. It turned out to be sinful.
Each plate was more interesting that anything we’ve eaten in the last year. On a couple of occasions, it felt like my tastebuds were exploding. I was very excited by the end, and so appreciative of the wait staff, kitchen workers, and creative chefs who made such a meal happen for us. And the dessert was a great top off. I love cheesecake, and this one was served with mango, coconut milk, and chocolate. It was just the right size. Bill loved his cheeses, which he got to enjoy alone, since I’m not a cheese person. Desserts were ten euros each.
Total damage for this meal was about 210 euros or so… This was more in line with what we usually spend on a really nice meal, and we thought it was worth every penny. I believe the other restaurant, Chambino, serves more casual fare. I wouldn’t mind trying it if we ever get back to Heidelberg and have the opportunity.
Taxi cabs were lined up outside of the restaurant, so we easily found our ride back to the hotel. If it hadn’t been so hot and we hadn’t dressed up, we could have easily enjoyed the walk back.
We stopped by the hotel bar to have a nightcap. The friendly barman was there again, and we chatted with him some more. He was telling us about gins from the Black Forest. He said Monkey 47, which was first made in the Black Forest is no longer made there. But there’s another gin, called Needles, that still comes from there. Bill had a martini made with that. I had a French 1975… and I think we probably need to detox, now.
Although my actual birthday was yesterday, June 20th– Juneteenth (June 19), for which Bill got a day off work Friday– was a great day for celebrating! I would definitely recommend Chambao. I hope we can visit again.