Friday foodie extravaganza continued…
Using a reservation app called The Fork, Bill made 7:00pm reservations at the Michelin one starred restaurant, Restaurant Köhlerstube. This restaurant is one of two at the Traube Tonbach Hotel, located in Baiersbronn. The other Michelin starred restaurant at this hotel is the Schwarzwaldstube, which has THREE stars. That’s as high as the Michelin star system goes. I’m not sure how far in advance one has to plan for a table at the Schwarzwaldstube, but as it has just eight tables and is a very famous restaurant, I’m sure it takes a lot of lead time and perhaps a bit of luck. The Schwarzaldstube is not Germany’s, or even Baiersbronn’s, only three starred restaurant, but it is the venue in Germany that has had the distinction for the longest amount of time, having earned its stars in 1993. It is currently led by Chef Torsten Michel, who took over from long time chef, Harald Wohlfahrt, in 2017. The Köhlerstube, just down the hall, is led by Chef Florian Stolte; it gained its Michelin star in 2019.
The Traube Tonbach Hotel has a long and storied history, beginning in 1789, when Tobias Finkbeiner began the business that would stay in his family until this very day. This hotel has been family run for seven generations, and according to its Web site, is committed to excellent service, luxury, and sustainability.
The Traube Tonbach Hotel is also noteworthy, because on January 5, 2020, there was a devastating fire that destroyed the original Schwarzwaldstube and the former Bauernstube venues. The Bauernstube was special, in that it was the original tavern opened by Tobias Finkbeiner, who aimed to provide sustenance to the lumberjacks who had come to the Black Forest. In 1812, Tobias Finkbeiner was recruited to fight in Napoleon’s Russian campaign, as Württemberg was part of France at the time. Of the twenty-five people who left the Tonbach Valley to fight, Tobias Finkbeiner was the only one to return, and he continued the business and passed it to his descendants.
The hotel is currently in the process of rebuilding the restaurants that were destroyed in the fire. Meanwhile, the Schwarzwaldstube and the Köhlerstube are both operating out of the Temporaire building– basically the top floor of a Parkhaus that has been converted. There’s also a lot of other construction going on at the hotel, which I’m sure will make it a very nice place to stay when it’s finished. As for now, I’m kind of glad we didn’t book our stay there. Parking is in short supply and there’s a bit of a mess due to all of the building being done. We ended up having to park down the hill at the free public lot.
On our way to the restaurant, Bill almost had another accident. The main drag in one of the villages is being repaved, so there’s a temporary stoplight on either end of the construction zone. At the time we were passing through, there was a terrible glare on the stoplight, making it impossible to tell what color the light was. Both Bill and I thought he had a green light. No traffic was oncoming, so we started to make our way through the construction zone. No sooner had Bill said, “I’ve just got to clear this zone as quickly as possible” than we were confronted by oncoming traffic, including a guy on a scooter who blew past us in the opposite direction. Fortunately, there’s a roundabout at the end of the zone, so other drivers could circle back and come through once we were out.
Then, the GPS sent us on a shortcut through a village. The views on the way were beautiful. I would have loved to have gotten some photos. But Bill was so wigged out by the near miss in the construction zone, I missed the opportunity.
Once we got to the hotel, we were confronted by all of the construction and the lack of parking. Bill asked an employee where to go. The guy pointed to the Temporaire, and took off. It didn’t leave a great impression. I was also relieved that I wore comfortable shoes, since we had to walk uphill from the public lot to get to the restaurant. Nevertheless, when we arrived, there were two smartly dressed young men at the door, ready to greet us, check out COVID vaccinations, and take our jackets. And then we joined about two dozen other people who had booked the restaurant that evening.
The staff at the Köhlerstube were all dressed smartly. The ladies wore Dirndls, while the lower ranking men wore traditional dress. The sommelier who took care of us wore a regular suit. Everyone spoke English very well. We had a choice of the regular or vegetarian versions of the menu, along with several side options that could be ordered a la carte or used as a substitute. Below are photos of the menu that was offered on the night of our visit.
There was a variety of people at the restaurant on Friday night. One table hosted a party of people who were celebrating a wedding, including the apparent bride in her gown. There were several couples, a couple of families with children, and a couple of groups of four. The American couple behind us brought their son, who looked to be about three or four years old. I was shocked by how quiet and well-behaved the boy was. He sat quietly and let his parents enjoy their meal with barely a fuss. He had headphones, and at one point, had fallen asleep. At the end of the meal, the wait staff brought him ice cream, which he didn’t seem to enjoy very much. They also brought him housemade chocolates. He chose a cool looking one that was blue, but it was a bit too much for his developing tastebuds and he spit it out in disgust. Bill also chose that one and said it was bitter chocolate. No wonder! I can remember not liking dark chocolate either when I was a child!
Here are some photos from our second foodie experience on Friday. Everything was delicious, although personally, I think I preferred what we had at the Meierei. I did appreciate that the portion sizes were manageable, especially since we weren’t quite recovered from lunch! We did opt to get the wine pairing with the courses, which I noticed a lot of other people were also doing. Each course was beautifully presented and the service was very good, although by the end of the meal, I was getting pretty tired and it took us some effort to flag down our check!
The total cost for this sumptuous meal was 521 euros before the tip. Thank God they take credit cards! Was it worth it? I think so… although this is the kind of meal that really should be done for the experience of it. I prefer more “comfortable” foods myself. But the delicate flavors and unusual combinations made this a very memorable and enjoyable experience for us. I liked the Meierei more, mainly because the service was so kind and personal. But I would absolutely recommend the Köhlerstube, even if the venue did remind me a little of a kindergarten. I hope we can visit again when the hotel has finished rebuilding its permanent locations for their restaurants. And, on another note, the Köhlerstube has now surpassed the now defunct Alte Post in Nagold for the most we have ever spent on a meal!