Built inside a massive castle complex converted into a hotel, Vendôme is a rare combination of charm, excellent service, inspired food, and a truly unique and gorgeous setting. I would return here a dozen times.
A big part of why I love this project is that every now and then, I'm lucky enough to have an experience that goes beyond a fantastic meal or an incredible afternoon or a perfect evening. Sometimes, when the stars align, I wind up with a truly transformative, once-in-a-lifetime impression that leaves me thinking about the place I've visited for days, or even weeks. Thomas Buehner's La Vie is such a place.
Having spent time working under Harold Wolfahrt at Schwarzwaldstube in the Black Forest as well as Kevin Fehling at The Table, Thomas struck out on his own in 2006. He ventured to Osnabrück, which is gorgeous but by Thomas' admission a touch out of the way. "Like gardening in the desert," was his characterization, and I found the incredible performance of his restaurant all the more impressive for its distance from any major city.
I found Thomas' style very unique—complex, with lots of considered groupings of flavors and textures, intense preparation and knifework, artistic presentation, and an atmosphere of comfort and playfulness that I find sorely lacking in the Michelin 3-star world. This restaurant is truly one of the, if not the, best 3-star I have been to. Period.
PRICE PAID: $440PP (INCL. WATER, TAX, AND INCREDIBLE WINE)
FINAL SCORE: 10/10
Off a tiny street in classically beautiful Osnabrück, Germany, is the unassuming entrance to La Vie. Osnabrück itself is worth a day's visit—though it was largely destroyed during World War 2, it has been exquisitely restored to its medieval architectural roots and hosts a pretty exceptional Christmas Market in December.
The interior space at La Vie is comfortable, and strikes a great balance between formal and welcoming. The palette is neutral with high points of color that draw the eye; the blood-red centerpieces that subtly match the painting behind, for example. The linens were crisp and beautifully set; there was an effortless stylishness to the place that drew me in. The well-spaced-out dining room for around 30 people contrasts strongly with the submarine-like density of the kitchen, which we visited later in the meal.
... two half-coins of "goose liver cake" served alongside. The goose liver is very rich and delicate; presented on an interesting platform; it looks and feels like tea crackers made of foie gras. Soft and exquisite. A fantastic start. 9/10.
Salted French butter, Spanish olive oil, and some extraordinarily hearty German bread with a thick-crusted rind arrive. I'm a huge fan of bread, and this is a pretty excellent pan-European presentation. 9/10.
Another appetizer appears in the divot of a small plate; goat's cheese appetizer with milk bread cloth covering overtop. Strong, farm-like flavors go perfectly with the crunchy flake of milk bread. A lovely starter. 9/10.
This is probably the right juncture to mention what can only be described as the most amazingly-priced wine list for exotic, fine wines in (likely) the entire world. I am absolutely not kidding. Let me humor you with specifics:
- Chateau Latour 1992; average winesearcher.com average price: $449. La Vie price: €225.
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache 1991; winesearcher.com: $3,426. La Vie: €1,750.
- Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1986; winesearcher.com: $1,315. La Vie: €640. And on, and on.
Especially if you take into account that, as of the time of this writing, the Euro is approaching parity with the dollar, you'll hopefully agree that classic/ancient wines like these can't be had for comparable prices in any wine store in the world, to say nothing of a restaurant where markups are typically 100%. I would return to this restaurant just for the wine list, ignoring for a moment the fantastic food and service.
Next, some king crab with salsify sliced perfectly to look like fish skin. The warm broth has dollops of chive oil, which gives it an herbal and almost spicy note. Salsify is an excellent choice to accompany—from the dandelion family, salsify has a vaguely oyster-like taste that supports the seafood flavors in the dish. 9/10, beautiful presentation and colors with lots of intense knifework. Service had their chance to participate as well, with one of many beautiful pourovers. I created a video montage of their best such dishes on the right.
Mackerel, pickled and flambéed, is served with "snow" of kefir and a corn beer from Peru called Chicha poured-over tableside. The mackerel is still warm from its recent flame-bath, and the snow and beer (which has a delicious chipotle flavor from the spices the kitchen adds in) are quite cold, yielding a fun temperature differential. Bits of blackened roasted corn are placed throughout for texture, as well as to enhance the South American feel to this dish. The mackerel has a very soft texture and the fresh, oily flavor typical of the fish. 10/10.
What I'm really enjoying about Buehner's style at this moment is that, though complex, each part of the dish has a role to play, and nothing feels extraneous. Mackerel, with its strong flavors, is never an easy fish to pair with, but it's handled beautifully in this dish.
Next, a delightfully bright dish of Red Gamba (a type of prawn), served with sunflower seeds and lots of assorted roots, fruits, and flowers. The prawn is smoky, mesquite-flavored almost. It's super fresh, and the rice on bottom gives this dish a hearty feel. The fruits are crisp, bright, and beautiful. Though the flavors aren't what you expect on first glance, there's nothing I would change about this dish. 10/10.
Next, series of dishes titled "A Touch of Autumn."
First, a gorgeous, fresh salad with radish, lettuce, white strawberry, citrus, and fig, all beautifully though perhaps excessively sliced. Each ingredient is impossibly fresh for December in Germany, which makes the ensemble all the more impressive. 9/10.
This next dish, presented under a layer of mint leaves and flowers, was strongly driven by the white garlic and mushroom components; very strongly scented. Equally strong (almost felt like Vicks Vapo on the nose, in a good way) were the mint leaves themselves, which gave the dish an interesting balance. On bottom was an excellent, hearty broth; almost like a beef or red wine reduction. Another fascinating combination of flavors and textures. 9/10.
Next, some Imperial Caviar (AKA "Golden Osetra"), the rarest type of caviar sourced only from albino or white sturgeon, and prized for its golden tint and earthy, nutty, champagne-like flavors. To the side, a lovely thick ragout of sweet potato and chestnut mixed with squid fond that pairs nearly perfectly with the eggs. A truly, almost excessively, luxurious dish. 9/10.
An interesting take on this rich poultry dish. The chef describes the preparation as "Étouffée," a cajun/Creole style usually involving shellfish served over rice, this pigeon tastes like an otherwordly-amazing combo of chicken and bacon together, so it's basically perfect. Not too salty, perfectly cooked, temperature is presented just right. 10/10.
A delightful bonus course; we are invited back to the kitchen for a passion fruit and Woodford Reserve cocktail. The chef introduces himself and proudly points out the extreme diversity of his large (15-ish people) staff, hailing from Asia, Europe, North America, etc; folks from all over the world who have come all the way to Osnabrück to learn. After seeing the amazing quality of what they're able to produce, I can't argue.
For the final savory course: a plate of absurdly well-marbled, masterfully-cooked Wagyu, Topinambur (also known as Jerusalem artichoke, or Earth's Apple), and an herb the menu describes as "sour portulak" (we would call it purslane). Further demonstrating his mastery of complex flavor pairings, the Jerusalem Artichoke is the perfect contrast to the beef, enhancing and enriching the flavor of the main without making it excessively buttery or rich. The coin-shaped portion of egg at the center of the dish enhances richness even further but takes it a bit far for my taste. 10/10.
The cheese course arrived next; some Phébus cheese from the Pyrenees mountains served with pine nut ice cream. Strong cheese flavors go perfectly with the savory pine nut ice cream and puffed barley that gives it a Honey Smacks-like flavor. 9/10.
The first dessert on the sweet side: pumpkin with yuzu and yogurt ice cream. The citrus elements of the yuzu blends with the gourd-y pumpkin flavors in perfect harmony. Yet another in what is a long list of creative, inventive pairings that don't necessarily sound great on paper, but are absolutely stunning in execution. Lots of careful knifework, as you can see—the pumpkin almost looks like it has been scrolled from its source. 9/10.
Next, check out the stunning colors in this gorgeous follow-on dessert of beetroot with, in the words of the menu, "a little bit of coconut." Spiced cookies and parsnip round the plate out a bit and serve as platform to display more gorgeous, colorful prep work. I feel like a broken record saying this, but beet and coconut don't seem like natural compatriots... except this dish proved to me that they totally are. The sweet earthiness of the coconut paired perfectly with the earthy-earthiness (yup, I meant to say that) of the beetroot. 10/10.
Lastly, a long series of final bites, each more artful than the last to conclude a meal as close to perfect as I could imagine. My favorite small chocolate bites (the ones with the faces) have five different Indian spices; the "Legos." are super bright and fruity white chocolate.
If you ever have he the chance to go here, don't hesitate. Just go.
Sven Elverfeld's Aqua resides inside the gorgeous Wolfsburg, Germany Ritz-Carlton hotel, itself in the shadow of an enormous Volkswagen factory. Surrounded by a beautifully choreographed waterscape, the restaurant feels like the centerpiece of a city-sized post-industrial artwork.
Aqua opened in 2000, scored its first Michelin star in 2002, its second in 2006, and its third in 2009, joining the now 10 (as of the 2017 book) other German 3-Michelin-starred restaurants. Of note, Aqua scored 19 points out of 20 with Gault Millau, the second-highest score possible. Also interesting: this is the only 3 Michelin star in the Ritz-Carlton chain.
Sven began his career as a pastry chef/chef de partie in various German restaurants like Humperdinck (now closed), Dieter Müller, and the Castle Johannisburg. It's worth mentioning that most other three-star chefs did not spend time on both the "sweet" and "savory" (i.e. pastry and hot/cold lines) of a kitchen as they trained up.
Sven started with Ritz-Carlton in 1998 right after achieving his state certification in gastronomy from the prestigious Hotel Management School in Heidelberg, Germany's largest and oldest service school. Sven joined the Ritz in Dubai, and then moved to Aqua to take over shortly thereafter. From his various interviews, it is clear that Sven enjoys simplicity, innovation, and the blending of French and German styles into something uniquely his.
PRICE PAID: $244PP (INCL. WATER, TAX, TIP- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10
With perfect, idyllic views of the water below, Aqua looks and feels like an oversized dining room in a modern country club (meant in the nicest way possible). The tables are spaced out far in excess of what comfortable movement requires; my guess would be that they increase or decrease table settings for a given evening so as not to appear like they have empty tables. On the night we attended, the space felt about 75% booked, which gave it a nice, open, airy feel.
The restaurant describes this opening snack as caramelized Kalamata olives (six o'clock and nine o'clock on the plate) with white sugar leaf on top. At 12 and 3 o'clock, green olives with capers and smoked almond. The capers really drive the flavor; salty but milder overall than the super-saccharine'd black olives. The savory and the sweet go together fantastically, and the dish is a very nice opening statement about the meal itself. Having spent time training on both the sweet and savory side of the kitchen, Sven Elverfeld is giving a hint of what we'll see in the meal to come; bringing together the best of both worlds. 8/10.
Bread, with butter dishes charmingly released at once by the service in a nicely choreographed movement. Wish I took a video, but didn't, so imagine synchronized swimmers dropping off dairy. Salted brioche, soft and warm, small French breads. Totally delightful. 8/10.
Jimmy, the very nice restaurant manager, introduces himself with a handshake and asks about our menu choice. He's gregarious and kind, and that's basically the last we see of Jimmy, which is fine.
Along with the menu we are served some micro sliders with mountain cheese. The sliders have strong thousand island and onion flavors; imagine a really nice, expensive Big Mac and you've more or less got it. Deeper and more savory, less sweet and subtle than subtle previous course in every way, and I enjoy the contrast. 9/10.
Next, a fascinating take on Vitello Tonnato—an Italian dish of veal, capers, anchovies, parsley, and lemon. Their version is served tartare in a pretty half-sphere with some greens. The base also has some oil of arugula, which tastes like a really amazing melted salad. 8/10.
A delicious morsel of French Gillardeau oyster, served with artichoke and argan oil to give some depth. The plate itself looks a bit like mother-of-pearl; a nice design decision that goes nicely with the dish's theme. Super fresh, crunchy texture of freeze-dried vegetables pairs well, but there's a lot going on in a single bite here. 8/10.
Next, a "Stulle" sandwich— textures are dominated by the crunchy, thin bread and crispy shrimp from Büsum harbor; softer beef and crab round things out. Great combo of somewhat dissonant flavored proteins; the sauces on the side add a bit more richness for those inclined (not me; perfect without). 9/10.
This next dish is titled "Bouchot" mussels and rabbit leg. "Bouchot" is French for "shellfish bed," and refers to an aquaculture technique of growing mussels on ropes underwater near the seashore for easy harvesting and higher quality. The rich, meaty mussels pair perfectly with the saffron curry powder for a completely innovative East-West pairing. Rabbit leg within provides another land-sea contrast similar to the previous course. I loved the creativity and flavors of this dish. 10/10.
Next, Veal tongue "Berlin" (not sure where the "Berlin" title comes in; Berlin-style beef tongue usually includes capers, which this doesn't.) The super-cold veal on the left goes great with the foam poured overtop in the rightmost photo; overall a salty palate. The Cipolla Onion in the upper right stands out. A little rich for my blood, especially because of the goose liver slices. 6/10.
Next, a delightful Pigeon breast raised by the farm of Jean-Claude Miéral, a farmer known for his premium-branded French poultry. Elverfeld pair the super-soft bird (very creatively carved, by the way) with a small bed of couscous (upper left in the shape of a corn ear) that adds crunch. Lots of dashes of super-rich sauces fill in space around the plate. There's a lot going on here, and I really enjoy the artistic plating, but it feels a lot easier to look at than to eat. The sauces (if you choose to use them) add way, way too much richness to the delicate pigeon, and it's basically a texture overkill since the bird itself is already very tender and paired nicely with the couscous. The plate itself reminds me of rocks in a river, which is an interesting visual statement. 7/10.
I must be honest and say that I possess a deep character weakness for awesome cheese carts. Of the many incredible choices, I selected:
- Vacherin Mont d'Or, a seasonal soft cheese produced in Switzerland,
- Maroilles, a cheese developed in the 10th century in Northern France by a monk,
- Trou du Cru, an orange-rinded, alcohol-washed Burgundy cheese, and finally my favorite:
- Epoisses, a strongly-scented washed-rind cheese, also from Burgundy.
Another creative dessert, this one with some interesting cross-branding: Ruinart champagne made into sorbet; a touch bitter, and served in a the punt of one of its own bottles. Slightly raspberry, but mostly it tastes like champagne, which is awesome. 9/10.
Next, a crunchy, seasonal plate of "Quince & Grain;" lots of crunchy, freeze-dried components with a very soft, peach-like quince. There's a lot going on here: spruce sprouts, ginger, and lots of fruit beyond the quince itself. Sweet but restrained. 8/10.
Next, elderberry, peanut, and champagne, to harken back to two dishes ago. I love the creative stacking inside the glassware. 8/10.
Next, a very autumnal dessert; a Muscat pumpkin with cranberries, yogurt, and pumpkin oil at the base. The pumpkin flavors carry through really, really strongly; in fact, this dish tastes almost 100% like pumpkin. Not a bad thing; like a deconstructed slice of pumpkin pie. 8/10.
And, penultimately, a beetroot dessert made with half-cherries and Bolivian chocolate. The cherries and chocolate go together particularly well, and I especially admire the visual pairing of beets with cherries. Everything is pulled from the same corner of the color palette, with vastly different flavors. 10/10, a brilliant dish.
And, finally, the dessert cart is rolled near. Pralines of coconut, coffee, blueberry, and some tropical fruit bites finishes out the meal. Just awesome, a great capstone to a great meal. 9/10.
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.
PRICE PAID: $110 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10
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.
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.
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.
Shaped like a sprig of ginger, the bread is trotted out piping hot and super fresh. 9/10.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
... Accompanied by some Tahitian vanilla foam, which tastes a lot like vanilla ice cream, which was totally fine by me. 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.
And then, out trotted the dessert tray with pralines, macarons, pâte de fruits, fruit pie, etc. 9/10.
A selection of gorgeous hand-made German chocolates. Super awesome ending to a super awesome lunch. 10/10.
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.
I wasn't joking about the price- less than 100 Euros for one of the most sumptuous lunches of my lifetime.
BAIERSBRONN-TONBACH (BLACK FOREST), GERMANY
PRICE PAID: $241 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10
Deep in the Black Forest, Harald Wohlfahrt has built a gastronomic temple in the most picturesque setting imaginable. Deep pine forests set on rolling hills with shining rivers cutting through- it's the German Middle Earth. Wohlfahrt is credited with training most of the other German chefs awarded three-stars.
A quick note in background- I was set to begin lunch right when they opened at 12 noon. I had a flight out of Frankfurt at 5:05PM, more 125 miles away, to take me back to Chicago. I also wanted to do their longest and most complex menu. This is the fine dining equivalent of asking them to sprint a marathon. David, the head waiter, agreed to go really, really fast. He did not disappoint.
All servers were dressed in full tuxedos for a Sunday lunch service. Attitude overall was insanely formal- at each course, the assistant server would awkwardly present his tray and bow in front of the table before serving. He stared at me throughout like he wasn't quite sure why he was doing this either.
While waiting in the plush lobby couches to be seated, I was given three small silver spoons with a bite apiece. They were a magnificently diverse selection of flavors and textures- from bottom to top, sushi-grade tuna with horseradish, beef with a passion fruit pâté, and a fried beef meatball. A delicious start- 9/10. Soon after, we moved into the main dining room:
Big and airy, and with a touch of a country-club feel to it, the restaurant has gorgeous hillside views of the Black Forest below.
Starting from the bottom left and moving clockwise- Chorizo dabs (red) give a nice slickness to this fresh green onion. On the upper left, passion fruit foam is brilliant and speaks to first bites. The egg is firm but the yolk is light and delicious- almost mayo-like. The cube of mackerel on the upper left is super, super fresh. Veggies and Asian salad remind me instantly of Chihana in Kyoto. 9/10.
Going clockwise from lower left- the quail leg is delicious and goes with pine nuts, but temps are out of sync- quail is warm and nuts are piping hot. Vegetables crisp and fresh, and the sweetbreads are rich and delicious. The pine nuts make more sense with the liver, which is gelled in a Jurançon jelly (a type of wine jelly infused with saffron). 9/10
Next, Breton lobster- presented with sautéed calamari sepia; heavy flavors of capsicum and fennel. I'd say the sauce is 85% butter, and the plate is served lawsuit-hot. 8/10.
This Rouget is served in an intensely aromatic broth of saffron and herbs on a base of small shellfish. The fish itself falls apart like melted butter- literally perfectly cooked. Light, crispy skin. This is a classic Mediterranean dish done right. 10/10.
The menu charmingly described this course as "Venison of homegrown deer." I like to imagine some famous chef patiently raising wild deer in his garage for such a purpose.
The protein is just beautifully cooked, and the is once again absurdly hot. Toweringingly savory! Golden raisins and chocolate/Nutella sauce are a good idea- the protein balances well with the sweetness. Apple circles work well too. 9/10.
The cheese course is a charming Parmesan and salad with Trevisano and dandelion- creamy and delightful, with distinctive Parmesan flavors. 9/10.
A candied Christmas Tree of sugar plum, the decoration pops open to reveal a hollow core of spun sugar. A delightful and playful conclusion to the meal. 9/10.
Petit fours! Run to Frankfurt!
ROTTACH-EGERN, GERMANY (ALPS NEAR THE AUSTRIAN BORDER)
PRICE PAID: $282 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10
Sitting right next to the near-Caribbean-colored waters of the Tegernsee (a large mountain lake in the German alpine foothills), Christian Jürgens has crafted a beautifully-executed menu that tries to share the riches of his adopted Bavarian home and show off the richness of the Tegernsee region.
The hotel actually has three different restaurants, and from casual observation I could conclude that Überfahrt has the lion's share of marketing talent, interior decoration skill, and general thought put into it. The interior is entirely referential to nature- every drink stand, bread tray, or other mobile object seems to be fashioned from some sort of log. I get that Jürgens is putting together a panorama of the beautifully forested natural setting, but he really hits you over the head with it.
The rock sitting underneath this fern-y cheese dish was served cold and slick with condensation. On top, you can see the "trees" and the watercress "moss." Have you gotten that this is a nature panorama yet? Like I said, a bit over the top.
Texture was not bad and the dish is exceptionally creamy (as to be expected). Though the wet rock makes for an odd experience, the cheese is excellent and goes perfectly with the accompanying bread crisps, which tasted precisely like Wheat Thins. 8/10.
On an elevated pylon of a dish, quail egg, milk bread, and house made butter came next. The butter is highly aromatic; you can smell it across the table. Looming in the center of the plate is an enormous truffle, wet and fresh on top of the egg. Super rich sauce. A nice start but nothing too crazy. 8/10. The house-made butter is heavenly good.
Another cool serving platform- this one almost like a mini-champage bucket. The caviar is served very cold with olive oil, a nice tomato and bell pepper salsa underneath gives vegetable flavors but not much spice. Serving in the caviar dish was a nice touch. Cod on a stick came on the side- it was tasty but tough to eat without spilling fish particles. 8/10.
Next came artichoke with egg and herbs. An almost pastalike texture with bold flavors. The artichoke itself is fresh and perfect. An adventuresome dish with simple ingredients. 9/10.
This deconstructed spring roll dish came with deep fried langoustine. Basically, just imagine chicken McNugget langoustines. 8/10.
Delicious chanterelle mushrooms, pleasingly adhered to the top of the bird. The pigeon is softly cooked, giving it an absolutely supreme tenderness. Beautifully spiced, goes great with salsify. A near-perfect main course. 9/10
A creative, pretty half-moon presentation of sheep and goat cheese. Super thin goat cheese with apricots underneath. Uncomfortably hard bits. Hearty for a cheese dish. Great mix of textures. A Shitload of cheese. 8/10
The next dessert was fantastic- Zuppa Romana made of mascarpone- was both creamy and cakey on the inside. Some super cold bits gave it a fun contrasting experience, with lots of fun crunchy textures. 9/10.
A charming little cabinet with a selection of pick-your-own cake. I chose a small flower pot of Black Forest cherry cake. Good but not great. 7/10.
I thought that this was adorable. You get a little tiny chef's hat, served on a teeny-tiny Le Creuset-style cooking pot. A charming end to the meal that made me laugh.