Restaurant Vendome, Schloss Bensberg, Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany – October 2010

 

The impressive 5 star Hotel Schloss Bensberg

 

This is the view that greets you – when you drive up the hill to the beautiful 5 star hotel, Schloss Bensberg. Looking down the hill you can see the skyline of Cologne, a good 20 kilometers away.

The service is as you would expect in a 5 star hotel, the entrance impressive. The hotel holds some 125 rooms, spa facilities – and several bars and restaurants among others the reason for my visit – Restaurant Vendome – 3 star michelin 19,5 point Gault Millau - and is voted top restaurant in Germany by the magazine Feinschmecker and number 22 on the “The worlds best 50 restaurants” by San Pellegrino – you know the one that now holds Noma at number 1.

The rooms are very nice and modern, even the standard rooms a good 35 sqm. I booked via http://www.hrs.de and thus had the breakfast included, which would have come at 28 eur, including all the standard choices of a great breakfast buffet plus individually prepared egg dishes.

 

The fountain in front of the hotel, looking down towards the gate.

 

 

One of the corners of the big square, October showing its pretty face

 

I shall not give each dish a rating this time….there were simply too many and too many details to even try to remember. But the room is quiet and beautiful. Good distance between the tables – maximum capacity around 40 people. The restaurant was only a third full this evening (!). My friend and I opted for the big Discovery Menu (they come in 3 sizes) – which includes some 20 dishes plus amuses and chocolates.

This single rose made out for the deco on the table, with the menu for the evening presented, it put the bar high for a great evening. To drink we chose a German Mosel Riesling, A German Pinot Noir from Franken – Fürst (The best according to the sommelier who changed my choice – nicely)…and a red Vieux Telegraph. All wines being stunning and taken from a HUGE list (book) of possibilities.

 

Beauty simplified

 

 

Greetings from the kitchen

 

These amuses were great, a pure 10p and not too big or many. The eel just exploded in the mouth. The bar was still high and later we both agreed that this was actually one of the highlights of the evening. Bread was offered from a large tray throughout the meal, very good quality.

 

Deciduous Forest - Vegetable brittle, Joghurt - Dips

 

I have used the English translations as offered on the Menu, the german saying “Blätterwald”…A funny starter and not more than that. You could taste the idea, each leave having a different “taste/origen” and the corresponding cheese/joghurt dip all different and all matching.

 

Goose Liver - grilled Amond Milk Cream, Chantarelles

 

Again the number of details on the plate was enormous…beautiful dish, and very very tasteful. My friend noted a little bitterness towards the end in your palette, something I have tried before with Fois Gras, but whether its intentional or not I cannot say. This came with a piece of roasted Brioche (as it should)…10p in my book.

 

Sweet Water - Bodensee Cisco, Chicken Broth

 

This dish as many of the following dishes was served with two sauces poured on the dish at the table, one being the “chicken broth” and the other olive oil (I Think)..Now this might be a good idea for one dish, but when you have seen it 5-6 times in the same menu, you wonder why this is not done in the kitchen….but maybe the sauces stays warmer like this, I mean apart from the show effect there must be a reason….coming to think of it, it could also be to give the guest a glimpse of the dish in two ways. If you read this Mr. Joachim Wissler feel free to come with your input.

 

Wild Salmon - smoked votive

 

Again, my memory and poor English does not make it possible for me to remember all the details on the plate, but the savage salmon was cooked perfectly. This is the way all Salmon should be cooked and taste.

 

Mackerel - Calfs Head, Green Tomato Gazpacho

 

A beautiful dish, the mackerel being such an overlooked fish. One of my favourite dishes of the evening.

 

Crabs . Sweetheart Cabbage, Bouchot Mussels Jus

 

And this was in fact my favourite dish. The jus being just perfect with a slight note of Safran which I love….I could eat this dish every day for the rest of my life and not grow tired of it. After this dish we got a glass of “Country Egg”, matched with browned butter and white truffles from Alba. A heavy autumm dish, very tasty, perhaps too powerful with the egg yolk, but I liked it. Unfortunately no picture of that dish.

 

Frog Legs - Coriander Peas, Black Garlic

 

First time I have eaten frog legs in a long time. It will never be a favourite, but mainly thats a thing in my head. The details on the dish…outstanding. It would take me a month or two to prepare a single plate like that.

 

Sour cucumber - Pumpernickel

 

The ice being outstanding, the cucumber slices topped with a bitter foam. Meant as a refreshment, it was not the strongest dish of the evening.

 

Suckling Pig - Lentils, Lovage, Black Pudding

 

This dish was another highlight for me personally, my friend found it a bit “too easy”, but having most of the dishes somehow influenced by the moleculary kitchen, I particularly  enjoyed this bit more basic serving. Basic….well look at the details on the small “tower” in the upper left corner ! The meat melted on your tongue. But our stomachs were starting to fill up……

 

Back of Deer - Olive Cracknel, Pistacio Cream

 

Perfectly cooked, back of deer was actually accompanied by the filet and a small piece of the shoulder(?) All tasteful in their way, all perfectly cooked.

 

Goat Cheese - Mountain Hay, Summer Truffle

 

A funny combo, Goat cheese and truffle, I think it worked. An explosion in your mouth. But my dinner partner found the goat cheese a bit too dominant.

 

Buttermilk Cloud - Verveine, Floral sweet sour

 

The best of the desserts, small beautiful taste….and also…at this point we were full full full.

 

Cereal - Field

 

Look at the the details on that plate.  Stunning. The taste…..I do not recall…my full stomach using the energy I needed in my brains. The following forest walk worked better for me…

 

A Walk Through The Forest - In late summer

 

 

White Peach - Champagne Lemonade, Marcipan, Ice Mountain

 

 

Herbage - Garden Frozen

 

And this one I gave up on after having tried a bit of it. My body could simply not cope with more food (well except for the couple of sweets that followed…).

 

Some sweets to finish a great meal....

 

 

followed by a "small" selection of chocolates...

 

Conclusion

Throughout the meal we were greatly entertained by the young staff who were all down too earth, which I love. Miguel Angel was a perfect Maitre and very talkative towards the end of the meal. We had a good discussion about good restaurants around the world. He had among others visited El Bulli a good 14 times..or was it 15 (!). The young sommelier came with good advice and I thank him for that.

You cannot really compare the restaurants at this level – nor say that one is better than the other. You can only say, that the details on the plates, the numbers of tastes on just one plate is out of this world and maybe even some times too much for your brains to understand and digest. I raise my glass to any chef/team who can do this night after night at such a high level, and I salute Joachim Wissler for having such a high level and such a great team, both in the back but also in the service. It does not get any better. I have been disappointed in 2 or 3 star restaurants before, but after this meal there was no such sign of that. Only complaint is that two big guys, did not manage to complete the menu before giving up mentally. It was simply too much. And therefore my comments and the last desserts is also so sparse.

My rating for the this restaurant visit:

Ambience 5p (5) Service 5p (5) Food/Wine 9,5p (10) : Score 19,5 p out of 20.

But my above almost top rating is influenced by the fact that I did not understand all the dishes and that maybe sometimes there was too many directions for an amateur like me on the plate to fully comprehend or fully appreciate. But it is also positively effected by the details and pure beauty off nearly all the dishes. I do not think I have ever seen more details in “one single” menu. Thanks for having us Joachim Wissler. We had a great evening, and hope to be back some other time.

About these ads

6 comments on “Restaurant Vendome, Schloss Bensberg, Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany – October 2010

  1. S Lloyd says:

    Thanks for the review.
    I am keeping an eye on Schloss Bensberg: I am looking for a good 3* Michelin table in Europe, outside of France (that I know too well since I grew up there and had enjoyed their finest tables), and this choice keeps resurfacing against Christian Bau’s table in Perl-Nennig. Tough decicion, I presume

  2. bo frederiksen says:

    Life is tough – descisions, decisions, decisions……

    Thanks for your comments. I doubt you will be disappointed in either choices. I have twice been disappointed at a 3 star michelin restaurant, both highly decorated.

    But with Bau or Wissler you get a level out of this world. I know what I would prefer, – I have a weakness for Schloss Berg. Maybe because its my local 3 star. I just love the place. The kitchen these days are asian inspired, but with a clear back-ground in the French cuisine, whereas Wissler is more modern French with some molecular influences.

    They are indeed even on this level very different.

    But I love the service both places. I like when its not to posh, but it seems most 3 stars know how to handle their fame and guests.

    The Schloss Bensberg is quite an impressive building, with its placement high on a hill. Schloss Berg is more rural, provincial overlooking the Mosel Valley.

    When are you planning to make the trip ? I would be happy to assist with some local advice if you opt for Schloss Berg.

  3. S Lloyd says:

    Bo,
    Sorry for the delay and many thanks for your availability. I have two possible dates in mind for a trip in that area: either in December or March. That will depend on the friends who want to tour Western Europe with me. Hopefully, they will jump in my gastronomy bandwagon. For now, I have been exchanging emails with Schloss Berg and found them amazingly accomodating: they replied quickly and were very helpful. There arequite many choices of interest in that area (Germany/Belgium/netherlands) since Oud Sluis (Netherlands) and Jan Hertog (Bruges) are also on the radar. We shall see. I’ll keep you posted, Bo.

  4. Bo,
    I just sent you an email (had an offline question I wanted to ask you).
    Thanks so much
    S Lloyd

  5. bo frederiksen says:

    I can only say that Bruges is a wonderful city. So is the whole Moselle region, Drive from Nennig Schloss-Berg up to Bernkastel-Kuz, very very pictureresque and many wonderful Rieslings.

    Going to Burgundy tomorrow to re-visit my old favourite and first encounter with 3 star dining – Lameloise.

    Feel free to ask anything regarding restaurants, hotels or sights in Central Europe, I shall be happy to assist. Looking forward to follow your project.

    Im going back to Schloss Berg mid December. Oh, thats not to far away….nice.

  6. Thanks so much Bo for everything. Highly appreciated. Enjoy your meal at Schloss Berg in December, and may it be a feast. For having spent years in France (I grewup there) and visited most of its regions, I recall that Burgundy was a region I liked a lot, perhaps second to Cote D’azur which I love revisiting. I never tried Lameloise but coming from you, I know this is a top dining occurence and I need to add this location on my list of future dinings. Because of my side occupations (architectures, agricultural research, and others) I will not be as a frequent diner as I wish, but I love haute dinings and look forward to share some of those meals with all of you. The best to you & yours!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s