Germany, restaurant reviews, Wiesbaden

Our first visit to Landhaus Diedert… I give it an A+!

Yesterday, as I was considering where we might visit in Italy later this month, I realized that it had been awhile since our last nice meal. I asked Bill what he thought about going to one of our favorite restaurants, Villa Im Tal. He was up for it, but Villa Im Tal was closed this weekend. Then Bill noticed Landhaus Diedert, a restaurant and hotel located in the Kloster Klarenthal, which dates back to the 13th century. While I was searching for places to stay during our upcoming trip, Bill was reading up about this restaurant, which is family run and has a mention in the Michelin Guide. After today’s lunch, I can see why. We had an absolutely FANTASTIC experience.

The restaurant is located on the outskirts of Wiesbaden, in an area not far from nature. There’s free parking, and in the warm months, they offer a very nice outdoor area, complete with a little playhouse for the kids. But the food here is anything but kid stuff. It was more what I would call a mix of comfort food and haute cuisine.

The mask requirements in Hesse were dropped yesterday, and our vaccine statuses weren’t checked, but I noticed everyone wore masks in the lovely dining room at Landhaus Diedert. I don’t know if that was required; they didn’t have a sign up. I suspect people are just used to masking, and as time passes, more people will relax. The staff all wore masks, and there were two hand sanitizing stations in the restaurant, which is very beautiful. I do know that the health minister wants people to keep masking. Personally, I look forward to being done with the fucking things… but I did wear a mask today, since everyone else was doing it.

When we first arrived, we were taken for Germans. That always pleases me. One waiter delivered the specials in German. I understood most of what he said, but when he was finished he heard me say in English, “It’s asparagus season.” And indeed, they did have a number of asparagus specials available. He was kind enough to give us the specials in English, and brought us menus in English, too. I was grateful for the English menus, although they weren’t necessary. We enjoyed a round of Sekt and some fresh breads with hummus and butter, then perused the extensive wine menu. Bill chose a lovely Shiraz from South Africa.

To start, I had a delicious wild garlic soup with a won ton filled with smoked trout, and served with a side of wasabi mayonnaise. Bill had a cannelloni filled with goat cheese and served with greens and a walnut dressing. I tried the walnut dressing, though I’m not a goat cheese fan. Bill liked his starter very much, but I LOVED the wild garlic soup. It made my tastebuds sing from the first taste. Although it was a bit rich, I had to finish the whole thing. I exclaimed how good it was as one of the servers cleared the first course. I have a feeling it’s a popular offering.

For our main courses, Bill had a perfectly tender U.S. flank steak with prosciutto wrapped asparagus and pureed sweet potatoes, topped with chimchuree. I had a braised beef short rib with smoked roasted and mashed potatoes, leeks, roasted corn, and a sweet gravy with blueberries. It was very rich, but absolutely delicious and comforting. We had to take our time with the main courses, because they were substantial. I did end up bringing home some of the mashed potatoes.

Then, for dessert we decided to go with something different. Bill decided to have a flambeed pineapple slices, with ice cream. This was prepared at the table for us, and the gentleman who served us was kind enough to let me take a video, which I have posted at the bottom of this post. I had a rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream that was very extreme. I mean, I’ve had vanilla ice cream, but this was something very special.

Service was kind, competent, and expedient. The pacing of the meal was perfect, and we noticed that everyone seemed very jovial. It must have been the food and the friendly service. I wouldn’t say this restaurant is particularly kid friendly, but I did see some children there, and they seemed happy to be there. And, again, in the summer, they can play while the adults enjoy the food, which is really something to behold. Total bill was about 185 euros, before the tip, and we paid with a credit card.

Landhaus Diedert makes a great place to celebrate a special occasion, or just celebrate great, seasonal food. We really enjoyed ourselves today. This is one place I’m glad we didn’t miss.

I’m sure we will be back again… Below are some photos from today’s fabulous lunch!

Bill’s dessert. The waiter was kind enough to let me video. I’m sure I’m not the first.

And just to close out this post. I want to add a couple more photos… things I noticed on the drive to and from the restaurant.

What a great Sunday! I hope we can do this a lot more often now.

Standard
Germany, restaurant reviews

Seeing “stars” in Baiersbronn… Part four

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!

Standard
Germany, restaurant reviews

Our Heidelberger Birthday Holiday! Part three

After our walk, I decided to take a cold shower. I noticed the generously sized tub had jacuzzi jets. Alas, the stopper didn’t work properly, so taking a bath was impossible. I know we should have called for maintenance, but I decided it was just as easy to take a shower. Afterwards, Bill took his turn washing off the sweat and dirt from our walk and we put on nice clothes. It was my first time in something other than shorts and a t-shirt or a nightgown in ages. I probably should have taken a selfie, since I even wore makeup and curled my hair… which is due for another homemade whacking.

While we were relaxing before dinner, Bill found these books in the desk. We had the New Testament in German and English, and The Teaching of Buddha!

When we got the dining room, we ran into the barman, a friendly young man we got to know better after dinner. We were told when we booked that the outside area was fully booked, so we were expecting to sit inside. After some confusion– they apparently couldn’t find our reservation– we took a seat in the dining room. The menu was pretty fancy. If I’m honest, it was probably a little too fancy for me, since I am kind of a picky eater about certain things. Like, for instance, I don’t like fungus– no mushrooms or truffles or morels for me. Unfortunately, nice restaurants often use fungus a lot. They also had lamb and veal, which I also don’t eat. Bill, on the other hand, loves both. They did have the ever popular asparagus with Hollandaise and optional add ons. I thought about ordering that, but realized that I don’t love asparagus as much as many Germans do. And I like green asparagus more than white… either way, it makes my pee stink!

Fortunately, I did manage to find a couple of delicious items as we enjoyed aperitifs– champagne for me and a Campari with soda for Bill. Service was impeccable. The staff was friendly and professional, rather than stuffy. And the highlight of the evening was the sommelier, who talked Bill into ordering the Rhein equivalent of a Grand Cru Riesling. Our waitress noticed we ordered the Rings Riesling and also commented that it was a favorite of hers, too.

Total damage for dinner was about 312 euros, which is not the most we’ve ever paid for a meal, but comes pretty close. About a third of that was because of the Rings Riesling from the Pfalz. Naturally, you pay a premium for wine in a restaurant, and that bottle would not have been so expensive at the winery, even though it was a special, limited edition bottle. I was glad we ordered it, though. It was not the usual… I enjoyed how the flavor changed as the wine was exposed to oxygen and the ambient temperature. And it was a special occasion– our first gourmet meal in a sit down restaurant in many months. Boy, how we’ve missed dining out! I think we made the sommelier’s night, too. But as nice as Friday’s dinner was, Saturday’s was even better… and it cost significantly less.

After dinner, we stopped by the bar. It was empty, although the friendly young barman was there. He made me a strawberry mojito and poured a Japanese whiskey for Bill. We got to talking and found out that he was born in Germany, but spent the first thirteen years of his life in New Zealand. Then, he came back to Germany and hailed from– Freudenstadt! Bill and I lived near Freudenstadt when we lived in Jettingen, so we know that town pretty well! It was nice to talk to bartender again… yet another reason why we were so prepared to spend money. Anyway… there are pictures of Freudenstadt in this blog, because we visited there more than a few times when we lived near Stuttgart the second time (2014-2018). I liked going there, and just hanging out in the Black Forest in general. I miss it.

After our nightcap, we came back to our room to find the turn down fairy had visited and left us chocolates. That was a nice cap off to our first day outside of Hesse on a leisure trip since last summer. Onward to part four.

Standard
Uncategorized

Michelin starred birthday dinner at Ente in Wiesbaden!

Thursday, June 20th, was my birthday.  It was also Corpus Christi, one of the many religious holidays celebrated in parts of Germany at this time of year.  And, it was also a work night for Bill, who needs his beauty sleep as much as possible these days.  Consequently, we celebrated my birthday last night instead of on my actual birthday.

Ever since we moved to Wiesbaden a few months ago, we’ve heard many great things about its only Michelin starred restaurant, Ente.  Actually, the first time I heard of Ente was last fall, when Bill and I had “top flight” cuisine at Stuttgart’s high class airport restaurant, Top Air.  That night, we enjoyed the services of a very particular sommelier who fussed over us all evening.  He got his training at Ente many years ago.  Ente is affiliated with the Nassauer Hof, a beautiful hotel in downtown Wiesbaden.

Ente is the German word for duck, and yes, you can have duck there if you wish.  They’ll cook a whole bird for you, complete with heart, liver, and everything else that comes with a living creature before it gets slaughtered.  Bill and I like duck, but we weren’t feeling that adventurous about eating organ meats.  Besides, Chef Michael Kammermeier, who joined Ente in 2008, had other delights to choose from.  There was a menu that featured a dish from each of the chefs, and we had a choice of four to six courses.  Ente also has a “bistro”, which looks less formal and expensive and serves French and Italian cuisine.  We’ll have to try it sometime.

Originally, we were going to take a cab to and from the restaurant, so Bill could relax and enjoy more wine.  But when Bill called for a cab, the closest one was in Frankfurt and would take about thirty-five minutes to get to us.  We decided to take our 2006 Toyota RAV 4 for its final spin as a datemobile, as today we’re driving it to Kaiserslautern and trading it in at the Volvo dealership.  Next week, we fly to Sweden to pick up our new ride.

Here are some pictures and light commentary about last night’s birthday bash.

As we approached… we ended up entering through the bistro, which caused us to take a quick tour through the interior of both restaurants.

Our reservation was for 7:00pm, but we got there a little early.  We were the first ones seated.  The weather was absolutely perfect!  We had a nice view of the Kurhaus, too, where Elton John recently performed.

A smartly attired young woman was our sommelier.  She poured me a glass of vintage rose Champagne.  Bill had an expertly prepared Campari with soda.

Next came the welcome amuse– a raspberry gazpacho with olive oil that tasted like raspberry tomatoes…  a truffle falafel (which I actually ate), duck liver that tasted like cherries, and… I’m not sure I remember what was in the little bowl.  I’m pretty sure it was fish.

Butter with salt and a duck shaped mold of duck “schmalz” to go with…
four kinds of wonderfully fresh bread… Bill liked the duck fat, while I mostly stuck with butter.  I did love the duck shaped mold, though.  We ordered a lovely bottle of Kessler Riesling from the Rheingau that tasted eerily of a sour apple Jolly Rancher, minus the sweetness.  The sommelier was very good about keeping our glasses filled.

I started with the asparagus salad, which had a delightful dollop of sorrel flavored ice cream in the middle.  That was a surprise!  The asparagus was so beautifully arranged, in perfectly cut green and white stalks.  This was a nice beginning.
But I think I liked Bill’s first course even more.  It was king fish ceviche with mango salsa and peppers, along with little “chips” on top.  It popped with flavor.  

Next came the pea ravioli, which was served with coconut foam.  The peas were very fresh and sweet.  Several were in their pods to go with the three homemade raviolis stuffed with pea puree.
Bill’s next dish was tiger trout, which looked a whole lot like salmon and was served with a beautifully presented medley of vegetables and foam.

We each had a scoop of Champagne flavored sorbet to cleanse the palate…

Then it was time for the main courses.  Bill had Loup de Mer, which is basically European sea bass.  It was served with deconstructed ratatouille and jus.
I had Spanish dry aged entrecote.  Originally, this would have been a tri tip of Waygu beef, but they did not have Waygu beef available.  My dish came with a Caesar salad, served on a heart of Romaine with black olives and tomatoes, mashed potatoes, jus, and of course, Bearnaise.  Yes, it’s a tiny portion, but remember we were eating four courses.  The steak was mostly cooked to medium and, to be honest, I’ve had better beef.  I think I liked Bill’s main dish more.

We both had the Strawberry Fields dessert, which was probably my favorite of all of the courses.  It was basically like a very thin layer of chocolate cake with cream, crumbles, and very sweet strawberries.

Just before they brought out the bill, we had chocolates and fruit.  I had a glass of Chianti with it.
Bill ponders the bill…  Glad he brought his credit card.

They brought me a little gift to take home…
A little cake!  And look, it has candles, too!

Total damage for this meal was about 359 euros.  Bill rounded up to 400 euros.  For any Americans reading this who think that was a crappy tip, remember we’re in Germany, where wait staff actually get paid by their employers.  They don’t require or expect a 20 percent tip.  
Overall, our experience at Ente was a very pleasant meal coupled with excellent service.  It was not the BEST I’ve ever had… Actually, I think my favorite restaurant experiences in Germany so far have both been at the now defunct Alte Post in the little Black Forest town of Nagold, of all places.  I had the pleasure of dining in their formal dining room twice and left there both times absolutely floored by how wonderful the meals and service were.  Unfortunately, Alte Post, and its more casual sister restaurant, Luz Bistro, had to close last fall due to a lack of qualified service personnel.  I was sad to see it close, even though we’ve since moved away from the Nagold area.  It really was a fantastic restaurant.
I’ve also had meals in Wiesbaden I liked more than what we had at Ente.  Martino Kitchen immediately comes to mind.  The presentations at Ente were exquisite and the service was divine, but I guess my selections last night just didn’t thrill me as much as some at other places have.  However, I would definitely visit Ente again and try other selections, which very well could shock me like Alte Post did.
A kid doing cartwheels nearby.
A view of the terrace as we were leaving.
Kurhaus.  

Manic looking ad for a dentist who does implants.
Big ass van parked next to us…  Look, it’s a Ford!  Donald Trump was wrong about Germans not owning American cars.  This was a model produced in Europe.
Glad our new car has parking assist.  It’s not easy getting out of a parking spot with something this huge blocking one’s view.
The dogs were delighted to see us!
Well, that’s another birthday down the tubes!


Standard
Germany, restaurant reviews

Nagold’s Fall Fest and another lunch at Osteria da Gino’s!

Today was one of those days when I am really very thankful to live in Europe, and Germany in particular.  Most days are like that for me, but some days I’m even more grateful than others.  Today was one of those days.  It was just glorious.  I’m writing this post, not just for myself and for those who already live here, but also for those who are planning to move to the Stuttgart area or even somewhere in Europe.  I hope it will excite a few readers, especially those who have never lived in Europe.

It started with an enchanting sunrise…  One thing I will miss about where we live.  I hope our next house has such a view.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the Mix-Markt chain, which is a European grocery store that specializes in goods from countries in the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union.  We visited the one in Böblingen, mainly because I figured that location was most convenient for a lot of my local readers.  Today, we tried to visit the one in Nagold, but unfortunately, the parking lot behind the store was absolutely jammed, as was our usual parking lot that is close to the store.  We ended up parking on the other side of town, which would have made hauling a large booty of groceries an exercise in difficulty.  So, instead of visiting the Mix-Markt and picking up some more eastern European wines, we decided to check out Nagold’s Fall Fest which is happening today and tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a shopping day in Nagold, so not only will this fest be going on with lots of food and music, there will also be shopping.

Lots of pretty fashions were on sale.

Damn.  I knew I forgot something.  Should have gotten some quarkinis for tomorrow!  They smelled heavenly!

Alsatian pizza anyone?

Fun for kids.  I would have liked this when I was a youngster.  Looks like it’s akin to bungie jumping.

Before we went shopping, we stopped by another one of our favorite local restaurants, Osteria da Gino, and had a sumptuous lunch.  Gino was there today, just as jovial and hilarious as always.  He shook Bill’s hand and delivered his trademark warm and friendly service.

We started with a lovely Primitivo, chosen by Gino’s second banana… who also happens to speak English.  That’s handy, because Gino isn’t an English speaker, but he still manages to be very entertaining.

 

We split this absolutely heavenly Vitello Tonnato– veal with tuna-caper sauce.  I usually try to stay away from veal, but I made a rare exception today.  This is truly delicious.  It sounds like it wouldn’t be, but it is…  

A pause before the pasta arrived.

We both had homemade pasta and tomato sauce with meatballs and Parmesan cheese.  I saved half of mine for later, because I wanted dessert…

Yet another piece of Gino’s wonderful tiramisu, which we shared.

 

I know I gush a lot about the restaurants in Nagold, but they truly are delightful.  I’m going to miss this town for all it offers.  I hope we find a similarly lovely town near Wiesbaden.  Total for lunch, which lasted about two hours, was just under 90 euros.

After we ate, we visited the bustling market.  I took some photos.  As you can see, the produce was well loved by other shoppers.

Chestnuts are a big hit.  There are several trees near where I live and I often see people picking up the ones that are on the ground.

I was attracted to this beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes.  I love all the colors.

Bill laughs as I swoon to the musical stylings of an accordion player…

He was really helping the mood.

At this point, I noticed a woman selling chocolate.  She spoke Spanish, German, and English.  It turned out she’s from Ecuador and lives in Calw and she operates her own chocolatier that uses less sugar.  We ended up talking to her for a few minutes and bought some of her truffles and chocolate shavings.  I found myself getting a little sad, realizing that we’re going to be leaving this town and the area around it.  It’s really been a pleasure to live out here in BFE.

After we bought the chocolate, I spotted a “Nette Toilette” sign.  I have written about this program before.  It basically allows people to use the restrooms in public facilities, free of charge.  Gino’s is a designated Nette Toilette, as is the municipal building I found on the way back to the car.  If you spot a red sign that says “Nette Toilette”, it means the business is getting money from the city to allow people to use its restrooms.  That’s pretty handy to know.  It definitely came in handy today.

Next, we stopped at a stand where a man was very animatedly telling a couple about his olive oil.  He was also selling wine, so we stopped in…  I ended up tasting two wines.  He gave me a piece of very strong cheese to try with the wine, which I passed to Bill, who is much more of a cheese person than I am.  I told the guy that Bill eats cheese and I drink.  All of the English speakers cracked up.  Then the guy gave me ham and sausage to try with the wine.  I don’t think I’ll need dinner tonight.

German gin.  We didn’t buy any… but I was tempted.

 

A moose passed while the guy was telling us about his 1000 year old olive tree in Italy.  It just occurs to me that the women who are passing look a little pissed…  Wonder if they were giving me the stink eye.

Bill makes a decision about the oil while I look on…

The overall mood of this fest was very “festive” and convivial.  Everyone was enjoying themselves… lots of people were eating, drinking, being friendly, and loving their community.  I will really miss Nagold.  I have come to love it.

  
If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, I recommend visiting Nagold and checking out this festival.  Gino’s will not be open tomorrow because Sunday is his Ruhetag, but there will still be food, shopping, live music, and kids’ activities.  As for Bill and me, I think we we finally visit the Cannstatter Fest so I can get some use out of my dirndl and he can try out his new kilt.  Hopefully, no one will throw up.  Just kidding.  I intend to do more observing than drinking.

Standard
Germany

Another Nagold restaurant I’m really going to miss…

I am truly going to miss this place.

Last night, Bill and I decided to go back to Nagold for dinner.  We had visited Nagold last weekend, hoping to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Luz Bistro at the Alte Post, but they were hosting an event.  Last night, they were open.  In fact, when we approached the menu posted on the front door, Marina Hentsch, the proprietor came out and enthusiastically greeted us!  There was a couple sitting on the terrace having drinks, so she invited us to sit inside or out.  We opted for outside, knowing that soon it will be way too cold to eat al fresco.  This is also kind of the sweet time of year when you can enjoy the last of the good weather without battling the bugs!

Obligatory shot of Bill looking at the menu.

We really enjoyed this lovely primitivo from Italy…

Bill got a kick out of the “math problem” on the back of the bottle.

 

We may have to have this again!

 

Before we move to Wiesbaden, I wish we could dine once again at the Alte Post’s more formal restaurant, which is on the second floor.  We had the privilege of eating there twice and we dropped a whole lot of euros, but of all of the places I’ve had fine meals in Germany, I think I might have enjoyed the Alte post best.  Unfortunately, last I heard, Alte Post was suffering from the same problem a lot of local restaurants are… lack of qualified help.  I know of at least one other decent eatery that had to close because there wasn’t enough wait staff.  The upshot is that the Alte Post is now open for events only and isn’t offering the more formal multi-course menus on the weekends.

Fortunately, the more casual Luz Bistro is still very nice.  There’s a server who speaks English and has been working there for as long as we’ve been patrons.  She recognized us last night and delivered great service with an excellent attitude, even though everyone else decided to eat inside.  It was a pleasant evening, at least until the sun dropped and it started to get chilly.

I went with braised beef and spatzle.  The beef was topped with sauteed onions and the spatzle was very fresh and delicious.  I don’t usually like spatzle a lot, but I really liked the Luz Bistro’s version, with its creamy, cheesy sauce.  It really complemented the tender beef, served with a very savory gravy.

Bill had the “cordon bleu”, with was a breaded pork filet stuffed with feta cheese and ham and served with t’zatzki and loads of pommes.  This was also a nice choice, although I try to avoid schnitzel if I can.  It’s not that I don’t like it– it’s more that it’s easy to get it when I don’t want to be adventurous.

We decided to have dessert.  I had to Google “Affogato”, which is the Italian word for drowned.  It consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream “drowned” in hot espresso.

We got to watch a bunch of local kids playing in the square while we enjoyed the fall evening.  

I love Nagold so much.  It’s such a nice little town.

Our waitress lit candles for us.

Bill had the Affogato, which was just the right size.

I went with the parfait.  It was light and creamy, with bits of rich chocolate ganache and meringues.  It was a nice way to end the evening.  I hope we can squeeze in one more visit before we move.

 

Total bill for last night’s dinner was about 98 euros.  We really enjoyed ourselves, as usual, and I will probably pine for Luz Bistro when we can no longer access it so easily.  Ah well… I’m sure we’ll find good places near the Rhein, too.

Standard
Germany

Baiersbronn… a sleepy town with many stars… (Michelin, that is)

 

Just like Hollywood?  Not hardly… but there’s good eating in them there hills…

 

Although Bill and I usually enjoy taking day trips on Saturdays and Sundays, we decided not to go out yesterday because it looked like it was going to rain.  Sure enough, it did rain… and then I got hooked on Call the Midwife on Netflix.  I seem to be among the last of my friends to discover this wonderful British series set in the 1950s and based on memoirs by midwife Jennifer Worth.  I started binge watching the show and, sure enough, wasted the day.  On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t too wasted, since Bill watched with me.

 

When it was time for dinner, Bill went to our local chicken man and picked up a couple of doner kebabs.  I don’t like a lot of the yogurt sauce on my doners, so Bill asked for “klein Sauce”.  The Turkish guy who runs the place knows Bill isn’t German and speaks English, but is good enough to do business in German with Bill.  His buddy took it a step further and gave him the right word for “little sauce”.  I’m sure we’ll never forget to say “weniger Sauce” from now on.

Today, we were determined to get out and see a place we haven’t yet been.  We decided to visit Baiersbronn, mainly because I had heard it was a noted place for haute cuisine.  Baiersbronn is just about 45 minutes from where we live in Unterjettingen.  It’s kind of a sleepy little town very close to Freudenstadt that has a lot of hotels and makes a lot of its money from tourism.  I was expecting it to be bigger than what I saw today, especially since I know there are eight Michelin stars in Baiersbronn.  Two restaurants have three stars and one has two stars.  Here’s a link to a 2013 New York Times article about Baiersbronn, posted when there were only seven stars there.  If you like gourmet food, it’s definitely a town you need to know about.

Baiersbronn was formed in the 1960s and 70s when five municipalities were formed.  It’s a well known spa town and there’s even a “natural pool” nearby, perfect for youngsters, called Naturbad Mitteltal.  It was a little cold for swimming today, but this does look like it could be a hit with kids who like to swim.  Bear in mind that if you’re not a member of the pool, the hours for you will be different than they are for card carrying members.  Check out their Facebook for more information.

We did not dine in any Michelin starred restaurants today, but now that we know how close the town of Baiersbronn is to where we live, we will definitely make some plans to visit one or all of them soon.  Instead, we drove through Freudenstadt (still going through major construction right now) and took a short stroll around the main drag before we finally stopped for lunch at Cafe am Eck (Corner Cafe), a cute little Konditorei heading into town.  They serve a breakfast buffet on Sundays, but we arrived too late for it.  However, they did serve a variety of snacks– Wurst salads, Flammkuechens, Toasts, and even Quiche Lorraine, which is what I had.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Quiche Lorraine in Germany, although we’re close enough to France in these parts to have it.

Here are some pictures from today’s jaunt.

 
 
 
 
 

I never get tired of the beautiful flower arrangements in the smallest German towns.

 

The Murg River passes through…

 

It reminded me a little of the little town where I went to college, Farmville, Virginia.  The Appomattox River passes through Farmville, though, and I don’t remember pretty flower arrangements there.

 
 

A couple of cool old buildings.

 

An incentive to visit on a weekday or a Saturday.  I spotted at least one gourmet shop and a beer shop.  I also saw lots of construction hats like the one above.

 

There’s even a red telephone booth with an actual phone in it!

 

We probably missed the main part of the town today, although according to the New York Times piece I linked, Baiersbronn isn’t known for being especially beautiful compared to some other Black Forest towns.  It seemed like we were in the wrong part of town for tourism… although we did hear lots of English spoken by Americans, including at Cafe am Eck, a cute little establishment with decor that reminded me a little of an old style Howard Johnson’s restaurant of my youth.  You younger folks have probably never had the pleasure of dining in a HoJo’s, which were known for ice cream and family friendly dishes.  Cafe am Eck is definitely not a full scale restaurant, although during the work week, they do have a lunch dish of the day.  The waitresses all wear Dirndls and the one who took care of us was very nice, if not slightly scatterbrained.

 

Another construction hat, this time hanging from the grapevines over the terrace.  I have to admit, the terrace was pretty much what attracted me.

 

This was an okay Quiche Lorraine, priced very economically at about 3 euros.  However, I could tell it had been chilled and microwaved, since parts of it were hot and parts were ice cold.  I didn’t care… it tasted good.  Also, instead of bacon, I could see they used shredded wurst.  

 

Bill had Black Forest ham toast.  It was made with wheat bread, slices of ham, tomato slices, and cheese.  The toast wasn’t very toasty, but the top part was good…

 

I have a feeling most people come to this cafe for dessert anyway.  They have ice cream, candy, liqueurs, cakes, and pies.  Bill had a really lovely slice of cheesecake that was smooth and creamy and a little sweeter than usual.

 

And I had my usual Schwarzwaldtorte (Black Forest Cake).  It was very good, although I’ve had better.  I liked that it wasn’t too sweet or heavy.

 
 

A shot of the exterior of Cafe am Eck.

 

We really should have toured around a bit more, but it looked like it was going to rain and I felt like going home and drinking wine.  So that’s what I’m doing now… drinking wine, listening to a live recording of Carole King, and writing this blog post.  However, we will make plans to try some of Baiersbronn’s highly esteemed restaurants.  It’s also a town with some very nice looking hotels, making it a good option for a staycation.  Right now, just like in Freudenstadt, there is a major road project going on.  Maybe that’s what all the construction hats were about.

 

Below are a few more pretty photos from our drive home.  We feel so fortunate to live in an area right next to the Black Forest.  It’s really awesome to be able to escape there on the weekends and enjoy so much of what Baden-Württemberg has to offer.

 

Near where we parked.  There was a nice looking Freibad there, too.

 
 
 
 

Lucky stop here, as the train was passing.

 
 
 
 

Lots of sunflowers… there are a few fields of them on the way to Baiersbronn.

Now that we know the way, we will have to go back to Baiersbronn and its environs.  The area is very pretty and it’s so close to Freudenstadt, which is also a nice place to visit, although it’s nicer when the main drag isn’t torn up due to construction.

Edited to add: as of January 2020, one of Baiersbronn’s three Michelin starred restaurants has burned down…  The Traube Tonbach went up in flames on Saturday, January 4th.  There are plans to rebuild.

Standard
Germany, restaurant reviews, Stuttgart

Five places to get really fancy vittles in the Stuttgart area…

Bill and I had tentative plans to visit a couple of festivals over the weekend.  But then we took note of the weather and decided we’d rather stay in and watch bad TV.  Our area got snow yesterday and last night and that kind of weather makes me want to hibernate.  I do like to post updates to this blog on the weekends, though.

Those who read this blog regularly might know that I tend to write more about restaurants than anything else.  Every once in awhile, I make aggregate posts about places where we’ve eaten.  Since we have just enjoyed two marvelous five star restaurant experiences, I thought today would be a good day to post about where to get really fancy food in the Stuttgart area.

This list is not in any particular order.  They’re just places where we’ve gone and been bowled over by the food, the service, and the presentation.  Not surprisingly, they also tend to be very expensive.  Check this blog for my reviews.

5.  Der Zauberlehrling

Bill and I first tried Der Zauberlehrling in Stuttgart in 2008.  At that time, it was one of just a few restaurants in the area that was using Open Table, an online reservation service.  Der Zauberlehrling is also a quirky hotel that I wouldn’t mind trying someday.  We have only been for the food, which has been pretty magical.  The above link will take you to my review from the spring of 2017, when we attended their Candlelit Theme Night.  This event, which happens every Saturday, is a set menu offered for 115 euros a person and is all inclusive of snacks, a four course meal, wine pairings, and espresso or coffee.  The food is definitely gourmet and the service is outstanding, although it’s not possible to order a la carte on Saturday nights (you can order a la carte on other nights).  As much as I enjoyed the food, I was especially enchanted by the service, which was laid back but very professional.  I love a place where I can feel comfortable enjoying the food.

One of the lovely courses at Der Zauberlehrling.

4.  Alte Post (please note: Alte Post is now closed)

We recently celebrated our 15th anniversary at Alte Post in Nagold.  This restaurant is actually two eateries– the casual Luz Bistro and Bar and the more formal Alte Post, which offers set menus a few nights a week.  Both times we’ve tried the more formal Alte Post dining room, we’ve come away from the experience awestruck by the exquisite flavors and inventive presentations.  A bonus for us is that Nagold is very close to where we live.  Both times, we have been served by the sommelier and proprietor, Marina Hentsch, who has teamed up with star Chef Stefan Beiter to make some truly outstanding food for those of us on the edge of the Black Forest.

Delightful salmon at Alte Post.

3.  Gourmetrestaurant Talblick

My next entry is another hotel restaurant located in Wildberg, a small town in the Black Forest.  Hotel Talblick offers two restaurants on its premises.  There’s the traditional gasthaus, which Bill and I haven’t tried yet, and the “Gourmetrestaurant”, which we tried in 2016.  The two restaurants are different, though they both get very high marks for food quality.  We were the only ones dining in the gourmet restaurant when we finally managed to get a reservation after months of trying.  It was June and it was hot, but the food was absolutely unforgettable.  Chef Claus Weitbrecht has many years of experience and study in France, and it shows.  We spent several hours enjoying course after course of very fancy food!  If you don’t mind a drive and like gourmet dining, this place is worth a stop.

This was the amuse when we dined…  It wasn’t even on the menu!  I see by my review that I was very much enchanted by this quail.

 
2.  Gasthof Krone

Gasthof Krone in Waldenbuch is an unassuming looking place, but it offers a wonderful gourmet experience.  We dined there in the spring of 2016 and I think we’re due for another visit, particularly since the chef changed after we tried them the first time.  Service at this little restaurant is very professional and the food is amazing.  Although I would recommend making reservations at any of the places I’ve listed in this post, I would especially recommend them for Gasthof Krone.  This restaurant is well-known and well-loved by people in Waldenbuch.  The small dining room was hopping when we ate there, although the service remained serene and the food was sublime.

Lamb chops done right.

1.  Delice

Our most recent fancy dining adventure was at Delice last Wednesday.  This downtown Stuttgart restaurant is making a lot of waves lately for its unique ambiance and imaginatively prepared cuisine.  The dining room is very tiny and you get personal attention from the charming sommelier, Evangelos Pattas, who once worked on the cruise ship MS Europa, regarded by the Berlitz Guide as “the best cruise ship in the world” for twelve years running.  Throughout the evening, you will be able to watch Chef Andreas Hettinger work from his open kitchen.  We were blown away by his culinary wizardry as much as we were the very charming Pattas, who kept us in excellent spirits with his inspired wine pairings.

Perfect shrimp presented with flair.

Of course there are other wonderful restaurants in the Stuttgart area and Bill and I continue to try them as time and finances permit.  These are just a few of the really great food experiences we’ve had in the Stuttgart area and I wanted to share them with others living here and hoping for a very European dining experience.  Yes, you’ll spend several hours and plenty of money, but I can truly say that each of these five restaurants have left me dazzled, and not just by the bill!  Every time I try one of these five star eateries, I leave having expanded my comfort zone a little bit more.  I hope this post whets your appetite for a great dining experience.

Standard
Germany, restaurant reviews

Almost stuck in Stuttgart after divine dinner at Delice…

Delightful Delice!

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.

Standard
Germany, restaurant reviews

Insane 15th anniversary celebration at the Alte Post in Nagold!

Edited to add: Alte Post has sadly closed.

Yesterday, Bill and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  Although last year, we went on vacation to Ireland for about ten days, this year we needed to stay in town because Bill is still earning time off from his new job.  At the very least, it’s always been our habit to go out to dinner on our anniversary.  We’ve enjoyed some wonderful anniversary meals over the last fifteen years.  However, last night’s glorious repast will definitely be a tough act to follow!

Initially, we considered finding a really nice restaurant in Stuttgart, like we did two years ago.  In 2015, we tried the “surprise menu” at Five.  As cool as that restaurant is, I think Bill and I have determined that we don’t always like surprise menu concepts, mainly because there are a few things I can’t abide, like truffles and mushrooms.  Also, the prospect of driving all the way from the edge of the Black Forest to Stuttgart was unappealing to both of us, since Bill is working today.  After trying and failing to find the right place to eat, I finally said, “Why don’t we go to the Alte Post’s gourmet restaurant again?”

I have written about Nagold’s Alte Post a few times.  This beautiful former hotel is now split into two restaurants.  There’s the more casual and less expensive Luz Bistro & Bar, which is on the first floor and open daily (except Sundays and Mondays) for lunch and dinner, and then there’s the more formal and expensive Alte Post Restaurant on the second floor.

Bill and I eat at Luz Bistro somewhat regularly, and you’ll find many posts about those experiences in this blog.  Last night was only our second time in the gourmet restaurant, Alte Post, which takes eating to a whole new level.  The Alte Post gourmet restaurant is only open Wednesday through Saturday nights from 6:30pm until 11:00pm.  The “deadline” for coming in for dinner is at 8:30pm, although I recommend making a reservation rather than just walking in.

We tried Alte Post’s gourmet restaurant for the first time in March of 2017 and had some very interesting and expensive new food experiences.  I really broke some boundaries on that visit and was eager to try it again.  I am so glad I did.  Although we dropped a large load of euros on our anniversary dinner, it was money well spent.  Every course was positively orgasmic and I say that as someone who can be picky and isn’t necessarily impressed by culinary gimmicks.

We only live about four miles from Nagold, so getting there is usually easy.  However, last night there was a very bad accident on B28, which is the road that usually takes us to Nagold.  We were met by the police, who directed us to detour.  We drove back through our town and went via Mötzingen, a little village adjacent to Jettingen that we usually only see when we’re being forced to detour.  Even after the detour, we arrived about fifteen minutes ahead of our reservation time of 7:00.

Although there was a function going on in another private dining room in the restaurant, we were the first of two couples to arrive for last night’s multi-course extravaganza!  Yes, that’s right… one of the lovely things about Alte Post’s gourmet restaurant is that your table will be relatively private.  There’s one dining room with a large table in it and the smaller room with four tables set for two.  Only two of the four were used last night, so you get plenty of room to spread out and enjoy.

We were personally attended to by Marina Hentsch, who along with star Chef Stefan Beiter, runs the whole operation.  Every time we’ve visited the restaurant, we’ve seen her waiting tables or otherwise attending to guests.  Besides providing stellar front of the house service, she is also a wine expert (sommelier).  Thankfully, Hentsch does speak some English (and French, apparently), though she claims her English isn’t good.  We found her very charming as she seated us and offered us an aperitif.  Since it was our anniversary, we started with a round of champagne.  And she brought us a little snack, pictured below…

This is tuna rolled in a little “cone” and topped with radish slices and caviar.  Although I was a little timid at first, this set the tone for a perfect evening of fine dining.

Bill looking sharp as we decide how we’re going to do things…

 

The first thing to know about Alte Post’s gourmet experience is that a set menu is offered.  You can have up to seven courses, but you can’t simply pick the courses you want.  Last night, there were courses featuring tuna, lobster, quail, salmon, beef, duck, and dessert.  We opted to have five of the seven courses because the quail included truffles, which I knew I wouldn’t like.  The other couple who came in later (and spoke French the whole time) apparently had the full seven courses.

We also had the wine pairing, which I highly recommend if you like tasting different wines with foods.  Marina Hentsch does a great job choosing wines and explaining them, although it helps to know a little German in that case.  I surprised myself by understanding a fair amount of what she said.

The menu is offered in both German and English.  You can also check it out online and outside the restaurant’s front door.  If you have any food idiosyncrasies, I recommend checking the menu before you book your table.  Otherwise, you may find yourself trying and enjoying calves’ brains, as I did the first time we tried the gourmet restaurant!  The menu does change regularly.

Not the best lighting, but this is an example of one of the tables.  

Last night’s menu in English.  Bill took a German menu.

 

Once we ordered our five course feast, Marina Hentsch went back to the kitchen and returned with the amuse, pictured below…  It was actually in two pieces.

These little bites were mindblowing.  There was a tomato and tuna bite, sushi with goat cheese and shrimp, and a tempura fried shrimp on a rice cake.

They were followed by hollowed out eggshells, painted black, and filled with a warm curry spiced soup.  It had a bit of a kick to it, which Bill especially loved.  Our hostess also brought us delicious potato bread with salted butter.  It was so good!

Our first course– fresh tuna with beetroot and green apple.  The beetroot reminded me of a very dry Fruit Roll Up.  It crackled and was very sweet, almost like candy.  I don’t normally like beets much, due to their earthy flavor.  I have to admit this was kind of a treat.  Under the beetroot curl, there was a little dollop of what tasted like apple flavored ice cream.  You wouldn’t think this would go with tuna, but it all worked surprisingly well.  It was paired with a steel aged chardonnay that was crisper than I was expecting and delightful.

Bill’s reaction thus far…

Next, we had Norway lobster served on top of mashed potatoes with bouillabaisse (fish stew) and beautifully decorated with a flower petal.  This was served with another chardonnay which was aged in oak and imparted buttery notes.  Sorry this photo is a little blurry.  I took two shots and they both turned out this way.  🙁

It was followed by my favorite of all of the courses, the salmon.  Salmon is one of those dishes that I tend to love or can take or leave.  A perfectly cooked piece of salmon is a delight to me, but when it’s dried out or dull, it leaves me underwhelmed.  This particular presentation was very exciting.  The chef paired it with sweet potato curry, avocado, and mangos.  I don’t usually like sweet potatoes much, but paired with the curry and Asian spices, this course practically exploded in my mouth.  I loved it!  This was served with a locally produced Riesling, that had a lovely essence of peaches that married beautifully with the curry.

Next, we had the duck, which was Bill’s favorite course.  It was served medium rare in pepper sauce with Preiselbeeren (cranberries).  I told Bill that I think I’d love a Thanksgiving dish of duck with cranberries and he immediately started talked about getting out his Anova precision cooker.  Again, beautifully done, though the duck had the misfortune of following the spectacular salmon.   

Finally, we enjoyed dessert… a panoply of chocolate.  There was a truffle that was full of warm chocolate “lava”.  I don’t really go for lava cakes much, but this was nicely done.  There was a little cloud of foam on top, along with a smidge of chocolate ice cream topped with mousse and garnished with walnuts, grapes, and something that reminded me of very high end Cracker Jacks minus the peanuts.

 

Once we finished dessert, we were offered a digestive.  Bill declined, since he was driving, but I tried a locally produced Mirabelle (made in Nagold for the restaurant).  I had a Mirabelle last week in France, so it was interesting to try it here in Germany.  It was not served chilled, as it was in France, which I think made it easier to detect the subtle flavors of plums.

Then we had a round of espresso, which was served with yet another two part treat, pictured below…

Four little candies– a marshmallow, a peanut chew wrapped in edible “plastic” (which I still peeled off, but didn’t have to), a very intense spiced jelly gumdrop, and a little chocolate cookie.

And this amazingly exquisite half lemon filled with light cream and topped with crispy, curry flavored flakes that reminded me a little of shredded wheat.  It was surprisingly delicious.

 

So, by now, you may be wondering how much this dinner set us back.  Well, folks, I will confess that hospitality at Alte Post doesn’t come cheap.  Our bill came to 346 euros before the tip.  However, I think it’s important to bear in mind that we were two of only four people in the dining room and both the service and the food were impeccable.  We were both raving about how excellent everything was as we walked back to the car, still bowled over by some of the exotic flavors we encountered last night.  It all worked so amazingly well!

As I mentioned, this was only our second time in the gourmet restaurant.  It really should be reserved for special occasions or nights when you just want to sit for a few hours and enjoy very fresh food creatively prepared.  Yes, it’s very expensive, but I think of it as one of life’s little experiences… ones that make putting up with all the bullshit worthwhile.  I can see why Chef Beiter is a “star”.  If you like gourmet food, I highly recommend visiting Nagold and trying Alte Post.  Bring a credit card and an open mind, and be prepared to spend a couple of hours.

A bonus was that last night, I managed to wear my contact lenses without pain, although you can see my eyes are pretty irritated…  By the way, we did dress up because we like to, but there is no need to do that if you don’t want to.  The other couple who joined us were wearing jeans. 

Next week, we will be visiting Delice in Stuttgart.  I understand that will also be a culinary adventure.  I look forward to returning and reporting!

Standard