My visit to the Champagne region brought me to the wonderful city of Reims. Not only being the capital of sparkling wine it also is a culinary paradise. At Le Parc at Domaine les Crayeres I enjoyed nothing less than an imperial lunch.
The restaurant is situated in a fancy 5 star hotel.
After parking my car in the garden I was brought to the dining room. The interior is very fancy and old school, yet comfortable. For lunch Le Parc offers a three course menu (70€, wine pairing 25€).
The service was very friendly, we managed with a mix of french and english 🙂 I liked the presentation of champagnes very much: The waiter explained a selection, while holding a card holder with a card, explaining the prices unobtrusively. I went for a small wine pairing, since I had to drive. Then the menu started:
I especially loved the tartelette that was refreshing, filled with a cheese cream and topped with greens.
Two sorts of fresh, rustic bagguette and butter – flawless, like you would expect in France.
A very fresh tomato tartar was topped with a foam preparation, topped with spices. A fresh palate cleanser.
A wonderful dish: The smoked haddock added some intense notes and a rather meaty texture, while the potatoes were soft and waxy. The sauce was full of depth and the sweetness of saffron, binding it together and giving the dish roundness and a comforting character.
One of the best main courses I’ve had for long: The potatoes were breathtaking. Glazed with jus, soft, waxy and not at all mealy or crumbly…this was all a potato can be. The baby zucchinis added a fresh greenness, while some hand picked baby mushrooms (look at the uniform size) brought earthy notes into play. And the quail: The leg was shere perfect with it’s firm and tasty meat. The zucchini flower was a piece of art: Skillfully filled with quail fillet, that was perfectly rosé, juicy and full of taste. Wonderful!
Also the dessert was wonderful: A soft, warm lemon soufflé paired with a lemon and tarragon sorbet that brought a nice temperature contrast. Great and refreshing.
Also the petit fours were great, especially the biscuit sablé.
My lunch at Le Parc was really delightful: I loved the traditional approach and the evident focus on high quality products. No chichi, just good products and craftmanship brought to the plate. I would definetely go for a tasting menu or a greater a la carte selection next time.
Visit: July 2018 Michelin stars at time of visit: ** Budget: 95€/person (lunch and two glasses of wine) Location: 8/10 Service: 6,5/10 Food: 8,5/10
The wonderful city of Honfleur hosts SaQuaNa, a restaurant well known for it’s superior quality of seafood. Chef Alexandre Bourdas is said to use only the best ingredients – as the name of his restaurant means taste, quality, nature or fish in Japanese. Reason enough for a lunch!
Chef Alexandre Bourdas has been trained in Bras and Japan and connects Asian influences with traditional french cooking. The restaurant, that was awarded with two Michelin stars, offers a very cool but still comfy atmosphere:
As many restaurants in France, SaQuNa also offers a children’s menu (3 courses, 30€) – which was really great, since it was our first fine lunch with our son. After consulting with the friendly service (we managed with some terrible french from my side), we started with the menu:
A speciality from the chef’s home…something in between a yorkshire pudding and a pancake. Sweet and savory at the same time and for me personally a weird start into a menu (and besides a giant portion too).
You would expect nothing less in France: Just perfect baguette and wonderful, salted butter.
A signature dish of Bourdas. A perfectly fresh and juicy piece of monkfish is brought together with Thai inspired tastes. I loved the light yet very complex broth; it was not too „exotic“ but a perfect eastern inspired stage for a wonderful product.
A similiar principle with another great product: The wonderful clams were given an asian twist, while the courgette kind of grounded the whole dish. Very simple, very good.
The pieces of excellent salmon (very clean taste) were held together in a comforting and rich cream. The leeks and quinoa gave some structure, the daikon and salmon eggs added freshness. Great composition, very classic.
A very classic dish, with an excellent langoustine. The batter could have been a bit lighter and thinner – but was still excellent. The risotto was amazing.
A very simplistic looking dish. The beef tasted excellent, but was a bit too chewy for my taste. The intense meat taste paired incredibly well with the other components of the dish though. I loved how the thinly shaved components blend into a combination reminding me of a misty morning in the woods, still preserving each single taste. This is a taste, that will stay with me for a very, very long time – when I close my eyes I can still enjoy it like I would still sit there.
A part it was served with a excellent, crunchy green salad that was marinated with beef juice – maybe the best „simple“ salad I’ve ever had.
A good cheese selection.
A very classic pastry to enjoy.
A very delicate and refreshing desert. I loved the combination of olive, mint and chocolate, reminding me of After Eight chocolates.
The last desert was in it’s simplicity maybe the best: Seasonal strawberries in flawless quality with heavy cream – just wonderful. In the end an idced cappuchino was accompanied by two petit fours.
I really enjoyed our meal at SaQuaNa. The seafood quality was really excellent and I liked the asian-inspired touch on the dishes. While not all components met my expectations (tempura technique of the langoustine, quality of the beef), monsieur Bourdas for sure knows how to create memorable plates and tastes. My overall impression was very good and I would recommend a visit.
Visit: July 2018 Michelin stars at time of visit: ** Budget: 185€/person (including wine) Location: 7,5/10 Service: 6,5/10 Food: 8/10
For a fan of fresh oysters, a visit to Cancale is mandatory when spending holidays in Brittany. Looking for a good restaurant there, I stumbled over Le Table Breizh Café – a one Michelin starred restaurant, in which chef Raphael-Fumio Kudaka is serving a Japanese-French fusion kitchen.
The restaurant is situated in the bay of Cancale, just around the corner of the famous oyster fields. The ground floor hosts a café, while the restaurant is situated in the first floor.
The inside is tastefully decorated in japanese style. I sat on the counter – a place that I like very much, since I love watching the chefs prepare the food. From the windows you can enjoy the view over the bay.
For lunch a 3/4 course menu is offered (38/48 €). The very friendly waiter recommended some wine and then I started with my meal:
A very fresh start: A salad with well balanced notes of sweet, sour and umami with a twist of toasted sesame seeds. Both the haddock and the lobster were of good quality and set an interesting contrast of fatty/lightly smoky versus sweet. Unfortunately the whole dish was very cold (especially the lobster) so that the taste could not develop fully.
Really good karaage – fresh fried pieces of excellent chicken (not too lean, nor too fatty – rather salty though) with some refreshing vegetables and daikon. Nice.
The main course presented a piece of veal, probably fillet, in very nice quality. It was topped with some seaweed, the peas brought some vegetal notes and the dense jus was great. On the side some fattier parts of the veal were put on mushroom-spaghetti in a truffled, creamy sauce. All in all very satisfying.
The dessert reminded me very much of my mother’s cooking – she always made this roulade de biscuit when I was a child. A good, homemade dessert – nothing more, but nothing less.
My lunch at Le Table Breizh Café was nice, it is well priced and you get high quality ingredients in a very decent environment. In terms of preparation I guess that the evening menus are prepared more thoroughly (in terms of temperature and saltiness).
Visit: July 2018 Michelin stars at time of visit: * Budget: 65€/person (lunch with wine) Location: 6/10 Service: 6,5/10 Food: 6,5/10
An old viennese gastropub (Wirtshaus), converted into a small restaurant with excellent yet very individual cooking: Since it’s opening in 2015 Pramerl and the Wolf has been acclaimed a lot. Some time ago it was awarded with one Michelin star – a well deserved one.
Chef Wolfgang Zankl was actually a businessman who changed into gastronomy later in his career. He learned at the wonderful Mraz&Sohn – and evidently took some of the creative spirit with him. You can see his overwhelming love for detail and strange but enlightning combinations in his dishes. But first things first.
The restaurant is situated in a quiet street, in the summer we sat outside and enjoyed the nice wheather. The sommelier/service is a one man show, casual and nice. I didn’t always agree on his wine pairing, but enjoyed his somehow unusual wine choices. Pramerl and the Wolf offers only one menu, from 5-7 courses, many of which are served by the chef himself. Since there is not much personnel, the dinner tends to take some time – so be sure to bring a good buddy with you (and to brief your baby sitter).
Then we started into a wonderful evening:
I really love how Zankl works with fruits – it is never this 80ties „putting ananas on pizza“ thing, but always a very thoughtful connection of taste and/or texture: The smoked melon with baccala foam was a perfect example for this. The sweetness and smoke of the melon was a perfect match to the intense saltiness of the baccala. He also has a very good sense for texture, giving the dishes a good structure. Vegetables often play the main role which come to like more and more. In this case there were a lot of seasonal baby veggies. My personal highlight was „Minced meat of old cow with fermented pepper“ – a perfect comfort food food, very meaty with a complex spiciness. I like his salty dishes better than his desserts – for me personally the creative combinations don’t always work out so well with them.
Pramerl and the Wolf offers really great cooking for a very reasonable price – a definitive recommendation!
Visit: June 2018 Michelin stars at time of visit: * Budget: 130€/person (including wine pairing) Location: 6,5/10 Service: 6,5/10 Food: 7,5/10
Im Rahmen meiner Tätigkeit für den Magistrat der Stadt Wien/MA 53 – Presse- und Informationsdienst durfte ich dem ORF Wien für „Wien heute“ ein Interview zu unserem großartigen Projekt „Wien gibt Raum“ geben.
Man bemerke den heiligen Ernst in meinem Gesicht 🙂
Der Beitrag mit dem Interview wurde in „Wien Heute“ am 6.7.2018 ausgestrahlt.
From the moment I saw Azurmendi some years ago from the motorway, I’ve been wanting to come to this place. Now I had the opportunity to visit Eneko Atxa’s three Michelin starred restaurant, which also holds rank number 38 on the San Pellegrino list.
The restaurant is situated in the hills around Bilbao, sourrounded by lush green and a beautiful landscape. We came directly from the airport by car and before our lunch we could explore the premises a bit.
The restaurant also has a winery and an impressive roof garden which offers a lot of insight in local varieties of vegetables.
Our lunch started in the (very warm and humid) lobby with a glass of local Txakoli and a cute picnic basket with some snacks in it. I especially liked the brioche with smoked eel and the peanut made of foie gras.
After that we were brought into the kitchen, loudly greeted by the cooks and then presented another snack: A warm, waxy egg yolk was infused with a cold truffle cream and served on a spoon. The warm & cold sensation in connection with the creamy and intense aroma maybe was my favorite dish of the whole meal. The poultry and sherry broth was good too, but due to the foam and the glass tube hard to drink.
After that we were brought to the greenhouse (although I actually just wanted a comfortable seat at this time, after travelling for hours). The misty bed in the middle represents the landscape around the restaurant in the morning, as was explained to us.
In the greenhouse we had some snacks representing local produce: Apple, spices, dairy and txakoli. All of them were nice in presentation and taste. I most liked the small caipirinha ball with txakoli.
After that we were (finally) brought into the main room, where we could enjoy the great view.
There we had the last snacks:
Both great, in combination (earthy vs. fruity-sour) a bit strange though 🙂
For our lunch we chose the Erroak menu („Eneko Atxa’s essential dishes), one of two set menus – the other one being Adarrak with more seasonal dishes.
A ball of perfectly fried spider crab meat together with a very refined essence of sea water and txakoli made a great start into the menu.
During the meal 3 kinds of bread were served. I most liked the incredibly fluffy, slightly sweet and warm bao. They paired well with the very clean, slightly sharp local olive oil.
The oyster tempura with a sticky cream of algae had a greasy aftertaste. The main plate was nice though: The poached oysters looked quite weird – especially since they were cut in half. Nevertheless they were firm, yet creamy and tasted perfectly clean. The whole dish played with green aromas. The apple ice cream added some nice acidity, while the green roquette sauce brough bitterness and depth into play.
Tear peas are a local speciality and here a reduced but very good dish was constructed around them: The firm peas were like little perls, great in texture and taste. The were bound together by a glutinous iberian gel, that gave the dish a certain richness. The sponges…whatever.
Spaghetti made of mushrooms, in a truffled garlic sauce were great. And again some fried balls…this time with mushroom in them.
A wonderful piece of perfectly roasted lobster was the key ingredient to this plate. The sweet aroma of the meat together with some charcoal notes made it just great. Again there was some sticky red pepper jus and a waffle roll – apparently also made of lobster, that tended to stuck between my teeth.
This dish was presented as a citation of a traditional local dish. On the side (again) a fried ball, this time of rich and tasty pork cheek. The beans were spheres of bean gel, the jus a very gluey jus. A lot of kitchen technique for a taste, that reminded me well of my father’s bean goulash – but nothing more. In this case the denaturization of the ingredients made absolutely no sense to me.
For the fish main course there was (again) a fried ball – this time of red mullet interiors with some caviar on it that was kind of bland. The flame roasted red mullet was very good, partly still raw with intense notes of fire. Unfortunately it was laquered with a quite sticky sauce again.
Honestly, the cook seems to enjoy frying – so we have tempura component number 7 of this lunch meal: Fried fillet. I got rid of the batter and found some really nice fish meat under it. The red peppers juice was green (no pun intended) and again…sticky.
This was the point where I got really tired of Azurmendi’s playing around with kitchen techniques, optical illusions and unnatural textures. I just craved for a piece of good fish or meat with some natural jus and some vegetables – and had all my hopes on the main course.
And then this came: A fried ball, glazed with gooey, sweet sauce. The meat inside was presented as to be of superior quality. As I got rid of the batter, I found rather tasteless, unsalted grey meat. The cheese bonbons were sticky and artifial too. The two cubes of pickled turnip were literally the high point of this plate, giving my palate some relief. On the side there was some fattier pig tail, again covered in sticky sauce:
At least the dessert brough some cooler notes and some acidity. The sponge was – again – tasteless.
While this could have been a very pleasurable combination, the overall crispy and crumbly texture made it hard to eat. It made the impression of random components thrown together.
Basically a de-luxe Snickers, with some weird sponges.
My impression of Azurmendi is really difficult to describe: It is a wonderful place, made with a lot of love to detail and apparently a lot of thought. You have to be prepared for a gastronomic event rather than a meal – personally I found the many stations before you come to your table excessive and not relaxing.
A lot of Eneko Atxa’s thought seem to go into sustainability and regionality. The building in it’s whole concept (sustainable materials, recycling) is very impressive. Also the ingredients chosen and the strong bond to local producers show a lot of thought. At the end of the meal we were given a small book with the title „Interpreters of nature“, beautifully showing different producers and farmers and their work. I left with the question though, why an interpreter of nature needs to denaturate his ingredients, instead of showcasing them in their natural beauty.
On my visit the food clearly did not deserve three stars. Having eight (!) fried components in one meal, most of them with a fatty aftertaste and combining them with only one kind of sauce texture (STICKY) is not only boring, but not at all a culinary pleasure. Some ingredients were outstanding (the lobster, the mullet) but the paraphernalia of presentation and kitchen technique made it kind of hard to get to them. Do I regret it? No – it was an interesting experience. Would I eat there again? No. But the view was good.
Visit: May 2018 Michelin stars at time of visit: *** Budget: 290€/person (including one bottle of cava) Location: 9/10 Service: 6/10 Food: 6,5/10
I love fish and I love to grill: So Restaurante Elkano had been on my list for quite a long time. So a visit to the wonderful basque country led me to Getaria.
Getaria is a small city on the Atlantic coast – being there you should absolutely visit the Christobal Balenciaga Museum. But on this day, my goal was this:
Entering the restaurant, I passed by the impressive grill that already gave some wonderful turbot and lobster a hot time. The restaurant itself is very old-school, charming but not modern with a mix of locals, foodies and tourists.
As an amouche we were served a small piece of wonderful creamy, soft and clean monkfish liver with a perfectly grilled crust. A glimpse into what was to come…
As a starter we chose „Kokotxas“ (the fatty lower jaw part) of hake in three preparations: fried, grilled and al pil-pil. It was very interesting to taste and feel the difference the preparation made. While the fried ones were juicier, the grilled ones had a more smoky meatiness and the pil-pil where soft and rich. A wonderful dish that made my lips stick together of all the tasty collagen…
At Elkano – of course – we had to have turbot. They serve Turbots from the sea of Bizkaya, which are considered to be among the best of the world. Luckily they also just had season…so we expected a lot 🙂 The grilled beauty of 1.2 kg was brought to our table…
…and then professionally (and incredibly quick) filleted.
You can see the thick fillet and the incredibly juicy meat. The quality was amazing, beyond any fish I’ve ever eaten. The nutty and clean taste of the meat together with the fire’s arome made it just perfect.
While we ate the manager came and helped us in filetting more parts of the turbot, including neck, eyes, cheeks and bone marrow – explaining the speciality of each „cut“. I loved this nose-to-tail approach, honoring and enjoying every part of this wonderful fish.
We dipped our bread in the wonderful juices, that were thick and sticky from the collagen, enjoying the beautiful taste. In the end only a few bones remained.
After the fish I had a tooth for something sweet. Though the zuppa inglese was a bit strange, liquid and eggy with a hint of vanilla. Next time I would just have another small portions of shrimps as dessert 🙂
The petit fours were nice and would have been just enough to make my sweet tooth happy.
Elkano ist most definetely a restaurant for product lovers: The seafood we had was out of this world and perfectly prepared. The bad thing: I will be craving for this turbot the rest of my life…
Visit: May 2018 Michelin stars at time of visit: * Budget: 110€/person (including champagne, water and tip) Location: 5/10 Service: 6.5/10 Food: 7.5/10
A three-starred restaurant is said to be worth a trip for it’s own. So why not go to Stockholm, just to have dinner at Frantzén? After reopening in 2017, the restaurant was immediately awarded with 3 Michelin stars. So starting with a restaurant booking I ended up organising a trip to Stockholm and spent a wonderful, sunny spring weekend in Stockholm. And ended up having one of the bist dinners in my life.
Frantzén is located in a backstreet near the train station.
After ringing the bell a very friendly girl opened the door and welcomed me with „you must be Timon“ – what a perfect reception. The evening started in a small lobby. We were offered some water and spent some minutes, just arriving in this whole different world and having a look at the impressive dry ageing fridge, showcasing wonderful meats.
When we were ready, we went through a dimmed corridor to the dark elevator. Going up the light slightly got brighter and a rock song prepped us for entering a whole different world.
We were brought to the lounge, where our waiter brought a cart with an impressive selection of champagne, explaining the differences and special traits of the grand crus. We went for a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée, a wonderfully crisp and full bodied champagne. Fitting for this relaxed and generous setting the glass was refilled several times during the start – just getting in to the flow of the evening.
While sitting in this wonderful bar and sipping champagne the first bites were served:
At some point we were asked to step to the bar, where a display showcasing the different ingredients of the evening opened up. A cook explained to us the background of the wonderful foods and answered our questions…still sipping champagne.
At the bar, we were served some additional appetizers.
It was noteable how relaxed this evening began – it was like being at friend’s place. No rush, no hurries – just a good drink, dimmed light and soft music and an impressive batterie of snacks. After this great start into the evening we went downstairs to the restaurant. Most seats are around a bar that goes around the open kitchen area:
There is a set menu (3000 SEK). For the menu we went with a juice pairing (900 SEK). Then the menu began:
Tuna belly of ranched tuna was topped with crunchy horse raddish, connected by a vinaigrette that brought some bright fruity acidity. Myoga (japanese ginger) gave the dish some depth and an asian twist. A great and fresh start.
A-MA-ZING: The bottom this huge langoustine tail was topped with crispy rice and then it was deep fried for some seconds. It was shere perfect – crunchy, juicy and full of savory sweetness. For sure the best langoustine, I’ve ever had and a perfect example that frying is actually an art-form. There was also a dip 🙂
The scallop was perfectly roasted and so having a more „meaty“ character, with a subtle smoky aroma that had it’s counterpart in a fruity, finger-licking good sea-urchin-chili-sauce (XO-style). The finger lime added some citric freshness.
PERFECTION again: A humble chawanmushi in the most perfect, silky execution was topped with a generous portion of excellent caviar. The aged broth added an endless depth to the dish.
One of the most interesting salads, I’ve ever had and a great citation of Japanese culinary art. And a citation of Frantzén’s own history – the dish has been cooked since 2013 with up to 50 different ingredients. In this one „only“ 20-25 have been used. The greens were partly smoked and grilled, partly raw. The fish scales gave a salty, crunchy kick to this very complex dish that connected bitterness, freshness, green notes with a refreshing butter milk spread. Along with it went a immensely light, warm infusion.
BREATHTAKING: Brioche, fried in butter, topped with a cream of aged parmesan, a generous amount of 100-year old vinegar and a lot of truffle. The warm richness of the brioche, together with the cheesy greatness of the cream, the fruity deepness of the vinegar and the earthy truffle made this one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten.
A very elegant and light meat course with lamb of extraordinary quality. The light juice, together with the herbs and greens made this dish just perfect.
A most delicous barbecue. The wild, metallic notes of the quail were perfectly countered by grilled pear (fruit), endive (bitterness) and the sauce périgueux (sourness). And of course truffle 🙂 A truly satisfying, perfectly prepared barbecue.
Humble greatness: This tea brought the very essence of the quail before into a mug. Together with fermented mushrooms this broth was incredibly silky, deep and yet elegant and well balanced. Like a taste of a rainy spring night in the woods. Amazing.
A real feelgood dessert between salty and sweet, with a wonderful and complex red fruityness. After this last course in the restaurant we went up to the attic again, where a shere unbelievable sequence of desserts followed:
PURE SATISFACTION: The idea of a duck liver crème caramel is out of this world. For real. This was the most savory, great, deep, sweet-salty dessert I’ve ever had.
Another great one: A wonderful milky cream, topped with a creamy habanero-pumpkin sorbet.
SIMPLICITY: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the strawberries on display in the beginning. They looked so perfectly, so fresh and ripe.And honestly: I’ve never ever tasted such perfect strawberries. Shape, color, smell, texture, sweetness – this was pure paradise. The fruit was perfectly completed with floral notes of camomille and aromatic pepper.
Then a trolley with confection was presented, an impressive selection of pralinés – one better than the other. I especially liked the fermented garlic fudge.
In the end we got a small bowl with freshly made madeleines. Being almost too much they were a wonderful treat to end this evening.
This evening at Frantzén set new standards for me. In terms of product quality, preparation and taste there was no downer all through the menu. In addition all the dishes were pleasing in the best sense of the word – approachable but never simple, with a clear focus on excellent products. It also set standards in terms of gastronomy – I seldom enjoyed an evening at a restaurant that much. Fading in and out of the meal in the wonderful attic bar really takes out the stress and just let’s you spend a wonderful time, feeling like you have been there ever since. And it is the kind of place when you leave through the door that you will come again.
Visit: May 2018 Michelin stars at time of visit: *** Budget: 450€/person (including champagne and alcohol free pairing) Location: 10/10 Service: 9/10 Food: 10/10