Germany- Bareiss- ✪✪✪

Virtually a stone's throw from Schwarzwaldstube, another stoic German 3-star, is the hotel-restaurant Bareiss in the idyllic black forest resort town of Baiersbronn. Interesting that, as of mid-2016, this tiny burg (population 14,500) has as many three-star restaurants as London!

Run by Claus-Peter Lumpp since 1992 and winning its third star in 2007, Bareiss' head chef has spent time under the tutelage of European culinary greats like Alain Ducasse and Eckart Witzigmann. He describes his own style as highly technical with a focus on aromatic richness to the point of opulence. Having enjoyed a lunch here, I'd say his self-description is totally on-point.

 Bareiss Exterior

Bareiss Exterior

BAIERSBRONN-TONBACH, GERMANY

SERVICE: 7.0/10

FOOD: 8.0/10

PRICE PAID: $110 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)

VALUE/MONEY: 8.5/10

FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10

 Bareiss Main Entrance

Bareiss Main Entrance

 Bareiss Lobby

Bareiss Lobby

As I walk up to the host stand a full 15 minutes early, several employees of Bareiss’ restaurant attempt to greet me and sort me out. Two of them, approaching down the hall at the same time, offer me the local South-Germany greeting "Gruss Gott," and then laugh as I struggle they duck into a service door and say to each other, in English and very loudly, “He only speaks English!” Raucous laughter ensues. A bizarre greeting. I'm asked to cool my heels for 15 minutes so we can start exactly on time. How very German of them. 

 Bareiss Dining Room

Bareiss Dining Room

As soon as they decide it's okay to open their doors, which happens to be precisely 12:00 noon, the restaurant manager, chef, waiter, and entire wait staff greet me as I walk in. Everything in this hotel is pristine, ornate, polished, painted, marbled, and freshly dusted. The dining room has the feeling of a country club taken to a distant extreme- a gorgeous, enormous centerpiece exploding with tulips is the room’s center of gravity, and with great heft the wait staff haul an aperitif cart around to offer every new entrant. A single, freshly lit candle awaits me at my seat. A beautiful bouquet of cut roses sits at the table's opposite end. This is really a lot to take in. 

 First Bites- Kingfish Sushi + Leek Tart + Ham/Bread + Cream Cheese/Fish, 7/10

First Bites- Kingfish Sushi + Leek Tart + Ham/Bread + Cream Cheese/Fish, 7/10

A very small starter arrives on a silver plate with pretty, tiny platforms. Top to bottom- kingfish with tarragon sushi, leek tart, ham and bread, and cream cheese with fish and paprika. The sushi is very cold, which would never fly in Japan, and additionally when you eat finger food in Asia it is always accompanied by a warm napkin to clean your hands with. No such luck here, which seems like a strange miss based on how detailed the rest of their work was. 7/10.

 Bread + Butter, 8/10

Bread + Butter, 8/10

Shaped like a sprig of ginger, the bread is trotted out piping hot and super fresh. 9/10.

 Unsalted Butter

Unsalted Butter

 Salted Butter

Salted Butter

Two varieties of butter; sweet on the right, salty on the left, both "from France." When I press a little further for a farm/locale/region, I am informed, "from France." Thanks guys, that helps. #stoicism. 8/10.

 Course 1: "Variation of Carrots," 9/10

Course 1: "Variation of Carrots," 9/10

Like a beautiful Roman laurel, this dish, lovingly titled "Variation of Carrots and yogurt," has some pretty unique touches. The yoghurt has a layer of purple Urcarrot (German for "old carrot)" with delicious beet flavors, and slightly spicy. Interestingly, four hundred years ago all carrots grown in Europe were purple, and only after the orange variety was created in the Netherlands did we get the stereotypical color and appearance that we associate with the root vegetable today. The small flakes on the side add crunchy texture. 9/10.

 Course 2: Prawns + Glass Noodles. 8/10

Course 2: Prawns + Glass Noodles. 8/10

Next, a ragu of prawns. The glass noodles are a nice touch. Mushroom and cilantro simplify and add layers. Broth has a coconutty Tom kha gai flavor; it's also pretty spicy. Another appropriation from Asia that works out pretty well. 8/10.

 Course 3: Swiss Char + Asparagus Salad, 9/10

Course 3: Swiss Char + Asparagus Salad, 9/10

Next, some Swiss Char tartare with asparagus tip salad. The fish is warm and perfectly cooked in the running for best piece of fish ever, actually the tartare exhibits almost citrus flavors. The white and green asparagus are in an egg yolk cream and are crunchy-fresh, and the roots of radish are a nice flourish. 9/10.

 Course 4: Calf, 7/10

Course 4: Calf, 7/10

 Course 4: Sauce + Radish, 8/10

Course 4: Sauce + Radish, 8/10

Now onto the main show- milk-fed calf with sweetbreads and morels, along with a sauce of fruits and radish, a side dish of veal ragu with morel foam. The calf is firm and actually a touch on the dry side. It leans heavily on the sauces for flavor, and the sauces lean heavily on salt- I crunched through a particularly large flake. The veal ragu and foam combo is a good re-interpretation of the main dish, but I'm not sure why the same two ideas are presented in totally different ways- one is about as good as the other but there's nothing accretive about presenting both experiences together. It feels like you're getting two mains. 7/10 overall.

 Course 4B: Veal Ragu + Morel Foam, 7/10

Course 4B: Veal Ragu + Morel Foam, 7/10

 A Fancy Dessert Napkin

A Fancy Dessert Napkin

Though the photo doesn't do it much justice, for the dessert courses I am handed a separate, much more delicately embroidered dessert napkin. A really nice touch. 

 Course 5A: Cassis Cream with Apple Ragout, 9/10

Course 5A: Cassis Cream with Apple Ragout, 9/10

A spicy and delicious creation— basically crème de cassis ice cream— with a lovely garnishment of sliced fruit and flowers. A touch over the top sugary, but awesome nonetheless. 9/10. 

 Course 5B: Tahitian Vanilla Foam, 9/10

Course 5B: Tahitian Vanilla Foam, 9/10

... Accompanied by some Tahitian vanilla foam, which tastes a lot like vanilla ice cream, which was totally fine by me. 9/10. 

 Course 6: Mignardises, 9/10

Course 6: Mignardises, 9/10

As we approach the wrap-up, some mignardises/petits fours— right to left: passion fruit, red currant, and then chocolate with a heavenly molten center. 

 Dessert Cart 1, 9/10

Dessert Cart 1, 9/10

And then, out trotted the dessert tray with pralines, macarons, pâte de fruits, fruit pie, etc. 9/10. 

 Last Bites: Chocolate, 10/10

Last Bites: Chocolate, 10/10

A selection of gorgeous hand-made German chocolates. Super awesome ending to a super awesome lunch. 10/10.

 Warm Rose Water

Warm Rose Water

At the end, I'm given a silvery bowl of warm rose water to wash my hands with. It's a bit confusing and I must admit that this is the only 3-star that gave me a hand-cleanser at the very end of the meal— are they trying to save me a trip to the washroom?—  but it was an okay way to transition to the bill. 

 The final bill

The final bill

I wasn't joking about the price- less than 100 Euros for one of the most sumptuous lunches of my lifetime.