Becker´s – Trier – 17 October 2009

Chef: Wolfgang Becker, Michelin rating: 2 stars, Millaud rating: 17 points

This review will be without photos…..I forgot the camera.

Nevertheless, I have to make the review since the evening was filled with so many ups and downs.

The restaurant was awarded it second star this year, and since my earlier visits they have renovated the place, established a wine bar, and divided the restaurant into a gastronomic part and a wine-stub brasserie. Furthermore a modern hotel has arisen and the overall impression when you arrive is “wauw – stunning” -especially since the establishment is placed in a small dull street on the outskirts of  Trier.

The reservation was made a good 6 weeks before and having recently read an article about how a good dining experience starts with the phone booking, I was somewhat let down by the cool way that was handled by the daugther of the house – (who is also the maitre (it seems) and maybe also the sommelier). This never became clear to us.

They have one 8 course menu at 105 euro (a bargain) – which you may reduce to 5 courses at 85 euro. The menu changes weekly.

We were the first to arrive at 6 pm and asked for the wine bar…a modern interior with the same wine list as the restaurant. We started with a glass of local Riesling, continued with a bottle of Knipser Sauvignon Blanc – a pleasant wine and a bargain at around 25 euro.

The wine list was good on Bordeaux reds and low on Burgundy wines. Nevertheless we settled for the large menu and a Chablis Grand Cru from a good producer and a 1999 Chateau Palmer.

During our 1 hour stay at the bar we were served roasted almonds….and later more roasted almonds.

When shown to our table the beautiful room gave us high expectations. Modern, raw walls, indeed very pretty.

Ms. Christine Becker emerged, I think she greeted us and we finished the bottle of Knipser with the amuses. She then came back to tell us that she had been through the whole cellar, but had not succeeded in finding the Chablis we ordered but only the 1. cru which she would suggest to us. Now my companion and good friend Jerome is a sommelier, and the reason we went for the Chablis was that it had been a long time since he had tried a Grand Cru from this apparently top producer. So we swifted to a Meursault 1. cru from a less well-know producer. I think the Meursault came around 65 eur and was a good but not stunning wine.

The Chateau Palmer was placed in the back of the room, I dont recall it beeing shown to us but I was already irritated by the coolness and un-inspiring ways of Ms. Becker. The wine was going to be decanted without asking us before. I was ready to obstruct because I normally prefer the wine to develop in the glass. However, my friend said that should the wine prove to have suffered from the treatment rather than the opposite we were in our good right to obstruct, but at this pont we should leave it. As it turned out the wine was perfect. And I mean perfect. A red Bordeaux does not need to be better than this, and we both agreed the dacanting had indeed improved the wine. But what I still dont understand, why make way for a possible conflict instead of simply telling us her ideas about doing it and then let us the paying clients decide what we wanted. You can always decante the wine after the initail tasting, but certainly not undo the decanting.

As it turned out the wine had sparkled our interest. Jerome asked Ms. Becker if she had tried the wine, which was met by a yes – and her leaving again.  No room for chit chat there. But we didnt give up…so we ordered a Chateau Montrose same year, half the price to see how it would compare. Again the wine was decanted but of course did not stand as long in the caraffel. When served it was somewhat slimmer and a bit more closed that the Palmer. It developed during the next hour..but never reached the Palmer in fullness and perfection.

As for the menu here you go – we started with a few tastings then the official amuses….Törtchen von Räucherfischen and Karotten/Ingwer süppchen mit Kalbsbries.

The Menu

Delice von Bretonischen Langoustinen

Gegrillte Sankt Jakobsmuschel, Ricotta, Lauch und Herbsttrüffel

Tranche vom Atlantik-Steinbutt, Artischocken, Tomaten und Kapern

Gebackene Entenstopfleber, Apfel-Kartoffelstampf mit Kraut

Variation vom Landschwein, herbstlich inspiriert

Dreierlei Bergkäse

Granité “After Eight”

Variation von Zitrusfrüchten

Chocolats & Friandises

At some pont in the beginning of the menu a large bread/baguette cut into slices was served – it looked great but was too soft and seemed half baked. An hour later a waiter emerged with 4 different kind of bread rolls, of which we tried 2 or three and they were all soft and again – seemed half-baked. Even after finishing our bread no “re-fill” was offered which seemed peculiar given the large menu.

So what does one make of all this.

First let me say that the food was more or less flawless, especially the delice was stunning, the roasted fois gras as well as the pork variation was clearly the high-lights for me. The plates are beautiful, simple and not to large servings. Meaning we could leave after 5 hours of dining (and drinking) without feeling overly full.

So – GREAT GREAT food but no “wauww” moments, just simple good produce presented beautifully in nice settings. The dishes ranged from 7,5 to 10 for me. I was not too crazy about the desserts. The After Eight beeing a nogo in my book. But lets say a good 8-8,5 for the food.

The wines – well we had close to a 10 on the reds, but the list itself is heavy on German whites, naturally. Very good priced Bordeaux´s.

The service – I would give the kind and attentive waiter Nadine Permantier a good 4 out of 5 – we never missed water and wine. And she was as the only woman in the house smiling. Now what to think of Ms. Becker – I dont know. Had she been a waiter I would say a 3 but she was the maitre (I think – and sommelier) and never once did she entertain in any kind of conversation, hardly a smile, -she did however follow us to the door when we left and wished us a good night and for that I will give her a 1. She was just not inspired enough. Like she had been planted in a water bottling production and had to pee.

Well – conclusion, we loved the food, loved the room – hated the coolness of most of the staff. They work in a beautiful restaurant with beautiful food. If they are not more inspired than the waitress at your local McDonalds they have chosen the wrong line of business – the exception being Ms. Permantier. If you read this Mr. Becker – she’s a keeper – improve the rest.

Will we be back – I honestly dont know – but for the final prices I have had greater evenings elsewhere, and it seems that my feelings/expectations these days are rather high on the service factor – and here they lacked for sure. When that is said….have you less expectations in that respect or maybe better luck than we had, a menu at this level for around 100 euro, add a bottle of Knipser for 25 euro, and you will find it hard to find a better price/quality level around these neck of the woods.

Rating for this visit: Food 8p (10) – Service 2p (5), Ambience 5p (5) – Total score 15