Although there’s a lot going on in our area this weekend, and Bill and I have been wanting to visit other little towns near us, we decided to stay close to home. I knew there was going to be a little French market in Hofheim today, and that would be a good opportunity for Bill to get some of his favorite stinky cheeses. We also heard that there was going to be a huge climate change protest in Wiesbaden, along with a food truck festival.
The French market sounded like it was more our speed, but once we got there, it was a lot smaller than I was expecting it to be. When I saw how tiny it was, I suggested we look in the other usual areas of the city to see if there was anything else. All we saw was the tail end of the weekend market, getting ready to shut down. Lots of people were drinking Riesling at the Wine Chalet, too.
We decided to have some lunch, then hit the French market. Today, we finally managed to try Die Scheuer. Die Scheuer translates to “the barn” (even though Google says the word translates to “the scour”). We’ve been wanting to visit this cute little restaurant for some time, but we usually get there too late, as they shut down at 2:30pm. We noticed that they got a Michelin Red Plate. After today’s delicious lunch, we can see why.
Die Scheuer has a nice shady outdoor area, with huge sycamore trees. They had also put up several large umbrellas, which was a good thing, since it started to rain right after we ordered our food. We had to change tables, in spite of the the umbrellas and tree cover. Still, it was so nice to see the rain, as it’s been weeks since we last had a good spritz. The rain didn’t last long enough, but it did cool things off a little bit.
Bill and I both chose lunch dishes, which were reasonably priced and not too huge. I had breaded, baked chicken, with sweet potato fries, and a lemon cream dip. Bill had what was called a barbecue bowl, which had a minute steak garnished with beans, corn on the cob, onions, and spicy barbecue sauce. It all looked and tasted great, especially washed down with cold hefeweizens. Service was friendly and relaxed, but professional. My chicken was very moist and tasty… and kid friendly, as I noticed the boy at the next table having the same. I have a child’s palate.
I ventured into the restaurant to use the restroom and noticed how very charming it is on the inside. The tables were all beautifully set, with comfortable looking booths. We’ll have to come back for dinner sometime. Sitting inside or outside promises a pleasant experience, albeit not a particularly inexpensive one.
After we finished our lunch plates, we had dessert. Creme brulee for me, and an apricot dish for Bill. There was a time when he wouldn’t eat apricots because it was “bad luck” for “tankers” in the Army. I think he’s gotten over that superstition. I think Die Scheuer has a pretty devoted following in Hofheim. I can see why. It really is a nice restaurant. Our bill came to 73 euros, which Bill paid in cash, along with the “Trinkgeld” (tip).
After we ate lunch, we went to the French market. Bill bought some sausages, cheese, duck spread, and macaroons. I bought four bars of lovely French soaps. I wish the market had been a little bigger, but it was perfectly nice. After the wine festival in Wiesbaden, it was fun to do something low key.
I wish it had rained longer. I hope it will start again. We missed last night’s wine stand, in part, because it threatened to rain, but never did. The wine stand was also held in a different part of our village, and we didn’t feel like looking for it. Next week, we’ll get our very first market in the Dorfplatz, and then the following week, Breckenheim gets its own wine fest. So I don’t think we missed out too much. Besides, last time I went to a wine stand, I got COVID.
Below are today’s photos…
We enjoy visiting these little markets sometimes, and it’s been too long since our last leisurely lunch in a restaurant. Next month, we are headed back to Baiersbronn for five nights at the Bareiss Hotel. I’m sure there will be many more beautiful food pics then!
Before we came to Sessenheim, I booked dinner in Auberge au Boeuf’s restaurant for Friday and Saturday nights. If I had it to do over again, I would have booked one of those nights for the Stammtisch. Not only does the Stammtisch offer different choices, it’s also considerably less expensive and formal. But this isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy both of our dinners in the one starred Michelin restaurant. In fact, going twice gave us the chance to try a couple of different items, and have repeats of our favorites from the tasting menu we had on Friday night.
I wasn’t going to dress up for the experience on Friday, though I brought two dresses. I changed my mind when Bill decided to put on a jacket. It was a good decision to do that. I noticed that people were dressy at the restaurant– casually elegant attire was the norm. That’s definitely one difference between France and Germany. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to nice German restaurants and people were wearing jeans.
We arrived at the dining room promptly at 7:00pm, which is when service begins. On Friday night, most everyone there, except for us, was speaking German. One family brought their two dogs, who were making adorable grunting noises the whole time. Our waiter was the same young man who checked us in on Wednesday night. He spoke English just as well as he spoke German and French, which was very impressive to me. I used to work in a nice restaurant, and it was all I could do to remember the specials every night. But here he was, seamlessly flitting from table to table, speaking three different languages.
Bill ordered a nice local bottle of Riesling from the sommelier, who was also trilingual. We were invited to use our phones to scan the menu, which was on a QR code on a glass square that was affixed to a metal stand. I guess the QR code is one innovative way of getting around printing menus, which can apparently be vectors of diseases. It probably also makes it much easier to change the menus. No need to print anything. For those who don’t have capable smartphones, a tablet can be borrowed. The menus were in German and French. No luck for us English speakers. 😉
We decided on the tasting menu, which was called “Confession d’un Cuisinier”. Priced at 105 euros per person, this was a seven course tasting menu designed and created by Chef Yannick Germain, whose family also owns the hotel. It was quite adventurous for me, and the waiter was shocked when I told him I don’t eat mushrooms or truffles. Actually, I only had six courses, because one of the courses had mushrooms in it. The course count doesn’t include the extra goodies. I think the waiter might have worried that I would be a picky eater, but I did okay. Below are some photos from our first dinner.
This was definitely a very impressive dinner… although it wasn’t my favorite Michelin starred meal. Bill said he liked it better than the dinner we had at the Schwarzwaldstube at the Traube Tonbach Hotel in Baiersbronn last August. All told, we spent about 300 euros, not including the wine we had during our “afternoon pause”, which we got at the hotel. Was it worth it? I’d say yes, it was. It had been so long since our last night out. Service was excellent, yet unpretentious, and the quality of the food was outstanding. I got to try new things. We didn’t have to drive anywhere. And we did it again the following night. Stay tuned for that post.
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!
Friday morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, which offers a huge buffet with many choices. I won’t go into the breakfast details much, except to say that you can have fresh juices, eggs, sausages, cold cuts, breads, and even Cremant if you want it. I think it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone, although since it’s a buffet, things aren’t necessarily freshly cooked.
After breakfast, I did a little writing for my other blog, then we took a pleasant walk. No, it wasn’t a hike like a lot of the other guests were doing. Baiersbronn and its environs is an excellent venue for hikers and bikers. But we just took a little stroll, and I took more photos…
After a short break, Bill and I continued to make a loop, where we got a beautiful view of Obertal that wasn’t too taxing for us. We passed the Freibad, tennis courts, and the mini golf course, none of which were being used. And I took more pictures, this time with my digital camera.
Once the walk was over, it was time to head to our first of two gourmet restaurants!
The title of this series, “Seeing ‘stars’ in Baiersbronn refers to the fact that Baiersbronn has an impressive collection of restaurants with Michelin stars within it, especially when you consider that this is a town that many people have never heard of in their lives. I think I first heard of Baiersbronn from my German friend, Susanne, who told me about it when we still lived in Jettingen. I searched the Internet and found a fantastic New York Times Magazine article from 2013 about the tiny town with so many stars! The article is behind a paywall, but I happen to be a subscriber to the New York Times. Of course, others have written about Baiersbronn, where, at this writing, there are EIGHT Michelin stars. Two restaurants in Baiersbronn have three Michelin stars, which is as high as it gets. And two have one star.
As our trip was planned with relatively short notice, we were only able to get a table at one of the one star restaurants, as well as an up and coming restaurant which has earned a Michelin “Plate”. The Michelin Plate is kind of like an “honorable mention”. It means the food is very good, and the restaurant could possibly earn a star eventually. Unfortunately, as August is both a month in which many Germans go on vacation and there are also many weddings going on, we had to reserve both restaurants on Friday. I don’t recommend doing this if you can help it. We did it this way because it was the only way we could try the restaurants during the time we had. If there’s a next time we visit, we will try to arrange to try the really great restaurants on different days.
Bill tried to reserve a spot at this restaurant for Saturday, but they had two wedding receptions going on. So we settled for lunch on Friday… and I have to say, of the two haute cuisine places we tried, I liked this one more. Yes, I liked it even more than the Restaurant Köhlerstube, the Michelin one star eatery where we had dinner. I liked the food more, and I liked the service and ambiance much more. Parking is free at the hotel, although the lot is small and has the potential to fill up fast.
When we arrived for our reservation at 1:00pm, we were warmly greeted by a tiny young woman who didn’t speak much English. There was just one other party in the Meierei when we dined, which allowed us to get impeccable service. This location also has a small casual bistro called Bistro Hofscheuer and a Weinkeller, which can be reserved for special events. There’s also a garden terrace for when the weather is good. More people were in the bistro, where a friendly bartender was taking care of a younger crowd.
I really liked the interior of the Meierei, which was decorated with rustic tables and interesting art on the walls. We had a comfortable table to ourselves by a window. As for the menu, patrons can choose from tasting options of 3, 5, or 7 courses. There is also a vegetarian three course option. Bill and I both opted to have the five course Das Genießer Menü, which was priced at 75 euros per person. We could have added a wine pairing for another 49 euros each, but Bill decided to order a bottle of wine instead. He chose a locally produced Landwein, which turned out to be “special”. The sommelier brought it out to us and explained that it was like two bottles of wine in one. First, there was the original pour, which came out clear and crisp. Then, once we finished the first glass, the bottle would be shaken and we’d see that the wine had become cloudy. My German friend reminds me that the Hofflin wine is a Bio-Wein/organic wine from the Kaiserstuhl. That was why Bill chose it.
I loved all of the courses on this menu, which is not an easy feat. You’d never know it to look at me, but I’m actually a picky eater and have quite a few aversions to certain foods. I was actually a little leery of getting this menu, since I don’t usually like lamb. It’s too “gamey” for me. But since the rest of the courses in the Genießer Menü really appealed to me, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I’m so glad I did. My tastebuds were exploding during this meal. It was amazing. I tried and enjoyed foods I usually don’t even like very much!
This meal ran us about 217 euros before the tip. We paid for the meal with a credit card and tipped in “Bar Geld” (cash). It was worth every euro, as far as I’m concerned. Not only was the food delicious, but the service was perfect. I also got the sense that everyone really cared if we enjoyed ourselves. With each course, our server would go to the kitchen and tell them how much we liked it. She also helpfully asked them to give us “pauses”, which was a big help. All of those flavors, especially after a year of no fancy eating, were a bit overwhelming. We also needed some time to digest.
At the end of the meal, the proprietor, who spoke English, came out to talk to us. She said, “You’re not German?” when we spoke English to her. We laughed and explained when she asked us what the hell Americans were doing in her little town. As I mentioned before, I probably would not have ever visited Baiersbronn if I hadn’t lived in Jettingen first! She was very interested in what we thought of the food and, of course, asked me to write a TripAdvisor review. I will do that as soon as I’m finished with this series, because frankly, I think they really could use a good review. If this place were anywhere else but Baiersbronn, I think they’d be ranking higher than they currently do! I hope we can visit again, or at least inspire others to visit.
In the next part, I will write about our experience at the Michelin starred Restaurant Köhlerstube.
Before COVID times, Bill and I loved to visit Little Italy in Wiesbaden. It was one of the first restaurants we discovered when we moved to Wiesabaden in 2018. We love going there on Sundays and having long, elegant lunches. The pandemic put our habit to an end. I think the last time we managed to visit was in summer 2020. Today, Bill asked if I wanted to go out to lunch, and I was happy to agree. And when we parked in Wiesbaden, we found our way to Little Italy, where we were quickly welcomed and seated indoors. We mentioned our vaccinations, but the waiter didn’t seem to care. He simply pointed out the Luca app for contract tracing purposes.
Today’s lunch was as wonderful as always, coupled with fine service and good wine. Below are some photos.
I really enjoyed my risotto, which was perfect and full of shrimp– four grilled on top, and several mixed in the creamy, lime scented risotto. It was pure comfort food. For once, it wasn’t topped with a bread stick. Bill loved his sliced filet, which was cooked to medium rare perfection. I was surprised to see black olives mixed with the potatoes, but Bill said it was really excellent. And, of course, we paired everything with sparkling water and a glass of Primitivo for him and Montepulciano for me.
While we were dining, I got a private message from a Peace Corps friend of mine. He was was a Volunteer in Russia in the early 1990s, then came to Armenia to work. I met him when he was working for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. I was teaching business English there. I had lost touch with him about a year ago, so I was glad to get his message, especially since just last night, we had a memorial for an Armenia Volunteer who suddenly died a couple of months ago. My old friend is the same age as the guy we memorialized last night.
Other than that, it was another wonderful lunch at a neighborhood favorite. We spent about 89 euros before the tip, and it was money well spent. I doubt we’ll need much of a dinner… but I’ll probably indulge in some wine… to process last night a bit. On the way out of Wiesabaden, I got a few photos…