Fischers Fritz, Berlin – 30 May 2012

“When morning comes and I’ll leave Berlin
My mind is turning
My heart is yearning
For you and Berlin”

Wizz Jones – 1973

*

Just where you wanted to be on this day…

To choose a good meal in Berlin is a tough one. The capitol holds many top notch restaurants – and my choice for today Fischers Fritz and the chef  Christian Lohse holds on to two michelin stars for I think 5 years now. The restaurant, the ambience, the high level service, the food is as classic as it can be. Its situated in the 5 star hotel Regent which due to its former owner Four Seasons gave us flash backs of “better days” (money wise) – because lots of details and decor was like copied from George V. in Paris. Pure class.

As classic as it gets…

This one´s for Sony…

So – the kind waiter showed us to our table and questioned whether the gluten-issue was correct and confirming that it would be no problem to handle. A second waiter emerged only to put the same question – if the gluten allergy was correctly noted. Nice to know we were in good hands from the beginning.

The menu has a business lunch with three courses at 45 eur I think. A bargain. A larger menu to choose from – 4-6 courses and off course a la carte dishes. It is a fish restaurant with the weight and focus on just that. Astrid chose the business lunch and I chose a la carte, my choices hitting two of the signature dishes of the chef as it turned out.

A LARGE wine list – well a book – was presented by Andrew Connor, the new “kiwi” sommelier having started only a few days before in Berlin. What a friendly and service minded person he was. I wish you the best of luck in your new hometown my friend.

Our bread basket selection – one normal – one gluten-free

Again, great to see that everything was taken care of – no room for mis-haps here.

A little greeting from the kitchen Salmon or Salmon trout – damn I forgot.

Secound round of amuses…

All great, the asparagus creme to the left stunning. Amuses 8p

Anguille Fumee et Fois Gras

Simply stunning. The thin layer of smoked eel below the fois gras added so much to the dish. peppery caramelized sugar on top the balance. Wauw. Purety. Class – 10p

Carpaccio of Trout Salmon….

Not too much of a fuss here…simple presentation great taste. 8p

Homard au Piment et coriandre – A lobster extravaganza…

A little side dish to my lobster – to balance the oil of the main dish I think…

As described on the menu, roasted with salt, chili and choriandre – and served with lots of oil, making it a very “southern” dish – and not classic at all. I loved it – a generous whole lobster, which was however a LARGE sample of its kind and almost too big. 8.5p

Cod …

The arrangement of this dish was changed and the couscous replaced with the suggestion of the waiter, rice with herbs. Again not a presentation out of this world but the cod cooked perfectly and the rice with great taste. 8p

A little something to clear the palate…

Funny little thing – something you would never put together yourself I guess, but it worked.

Sweets for my sweet….

Creme Brulee

So my favourite classic dessert on the menu at a two star establishment…the choice was easy. Even though that fun came at 20 eur – which might seemlike  a healthy price for a creme brulee. Well it was perfect thats all I can say. No playing around here with lemon or berries, chocolate or nuts. Just pure pleasure. Made me very happy. 10p

Rhubarb…

A great dessert, but a daring presentation you might think. If you dont know what I mean – well let me point it out

Ooops…

– and in fact it was the misssus who first mentioned this to me. One can say you got to have balls to present a rhubarb like that. But great dish 9p

Conclusion:

What a nice lunch it was. The staff on their toes at all times. The signed menu delivered to the room, the waiter making sure the following day it was as I wanted it to be. The meal was very different from the two-star dining we experience we had the night before in Falco in Leipzig – but it was not far from it. It was just more classic, but I think that is excactly what they want to be and for us it was great to have just that on this day.

What stood out for me was the classic ambience, the service – food wise the fois gras was out of this world.

We thank you for making our stay in Berlin even more memorable, we felt in good hands at all time, the gluten issue profesionally handled and we would want to be back next week for sure – if only we could.

As for the Bruce show in the evening. Well it was one of my best stadium shows ever. Like Fischers Fritz, Bruce has probably never been better. He blew us away, the mix of songs, the warmth of Bruce, even the sound this time around.

Just like Bruce – Fischers Fritz has to deliver at all times – any time. No space for flaws here. So off course there were none. Congratulations – To Bruce and to Fischers Fritz…

“When morning comes and I’ll leave Berlin
I’ll know for certain I am a free man
When I leave Berlin”

On top of his game – at almost 63 ! 28 songs and a 3 hour show. No break. Try that Justin or Madonna or Gaga – My rating for the concert 20p (20)

*

My rating for this visit: Food 8.5p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  18.5p (20)

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A different take at Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 5 March 2011

For a while this day had be in the planning, and Arnaud Magnier had finally agreed to take on the challenge of sharing his kitchen with 6 hobby chefs, who wanted to feel a little bit of the magic behind the curtains and maybe even learn a few tricks. To assist him on this beautiful Saturday was his second de cuisine William. Since they work hard 70-80 hours per week, it is understandable that he does not offer this service as a standard, but who knows, maybe he will consider it in the future.

Our expectations were sky high and it seemed the Day shared our feelings showing Luxembourg from its best side this beautiful morning. Walking towards the restaurant this was the squares I passed, the busy market square and the square leading me down to the restaurant.

Arnauld had had free hands putting a menu together, only request from our side was that the main dish should be fish and that we did not want to cook a dessert.

Here are some shots from the cooking of the amuse

William and Morten chopping the filet

Seasoning the Tartare, with freshly made mayonaise, scallots etc.

Mixing the tartare

Arrainging the amuse...

Beef Tartare with Caviar

Second up was the starter, Terrine du Fois Gras with Mango Chutney. The cleaning of the fois gras, the rolling, the cooking (13 min at 76 degrees in duck fat). After that it needs to rest 4-5 days in the fridge, so we had a prepared one for the dish, but here are some of the shots.

Arnaud with the raw liver, showing us the preparations

Torben preparing the rolls...

Slowly cooking, 76 degrees warm fat, 13 min for this sice....

Arranging the plates with the Mango Chutney...

Terrine of Fois Gras with Mango Chutney

Next up was one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, Arnaud’s take on risotto. He uses a Basmati rice, because he prefer the exotic perfumed taste. He uses white wine first, then adds chicken stock slowly. Towards the end, parmesan and whipped cream is added. This version included green asparagus and sol-y-laisse, dressed with creme of truffles and a parmesan bisquit

Susanne learning from the best...

William roasting the Sol-y-laisse

Dressing the plates...

Skovmand arranging and dressing...

The result, Risotto with Sol-y-Laisse and Asparagus

4,5 kilo of Cod

Milk with garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves simmering away, to be used for the poaching later

The main dish was going to be Arnaud’s take on a classic – Brandade – somewhat – re-constructed.

A beautiful garlic simmered creme made up the base, on top the poached cod, topped with the “Spumante(?)” – potato/olive oil creme – as light as a cloud…..dressed with roasted pieces of bread.

Yup, we now need one of those in our kitchens...

William poaching the fish

Magic is produced...

Dressing the plates

Final touches...

and "voila" - Brandade - Arnaud's way

Happy faces all around - Job done - table's waiting.

Table one is ready.....our table, eating our food. What a day.

Conclusion:

Actually, the hours just raced away, it was so fun and cool to watch. To learn and absorbe from two true wizards – its the little things that make the difference.  Salt, butter, coorect cooking temperatures, the organization in the kitchen, the preparations.

Arnauld and William succeded in setting up a menu, which we all feel we can somehow re-produce one fine day…if not as perfect …at least we would be able to give it a go. At the table afterwards Michael had put together a wine menu which matched our dishes perfectly. Thank you for that Michael.

Arnaud and William, we cannot thank you enough for taking some of your precious spare time and use it with us. We truly enjoyed every minute and all went away with a feeling of  “wauuw – this was even beyond our high expectations”. Besides making it all look so easy, we all learned a few tricks – and rest assured – if you allow us…..we will be bacl for the second class after summer.

Now, how could I rate this day and the experience in any other way than the following ….

My rating for this visit: Food 10p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  20p (20)

Simpsons, Birmingham – 12 February 2011

Going to Birmingham for the first time in my life, I decided to pay this 1 star michelin rated restaurant a visit. My friend could not make it, so I had to dine alone.

Outside the Simpsons

I was warmly greeted by the staff, and placed in a slim “hallway” between one of the two dining rooms and the terrasse. A loud air-conditioner somewhat irritated me but apart from that it was a nice spot where I could follow the waiters and the plates coming out of the kitchen and look at the beautiful terrace where I am sure many good summer evenings could be spend.

View outside from my table

Having time to kill before the “Born to run, an evening for Dan –  show” in the evening I opted for the big tasting menu and after talking with the young French female Sommelier I opted for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion from Pemberton, WA and a bottle of NZ Pinot Noir. Neither of the wines were masterpieces, but they did their job, especially the white wine was a nice companion to most of the dishes.

And here is what I had

The amuse, A mushroom shot...

Citrus cured Salmon, avocado purêe, micro herb salad, Auruga Caviar

A great first dish. 8.5p

Great selection of homemade bread, loved it.

Some of the best bread I have had in any restaurant 10p

Pan-fried Fois Gras, banana purêe, pain d'epice, salted pecan nuts

I do not think I have ever had Fois Gras mixed with banana before, but it worked. Great dish. 9p

Seared Ross Shire Scallop, orzo, squid, chorizo, broccoli, preserved lemon, cuttle fish sauce

Great bed of Orzo etc.. The Scallop slightly overcooked. As I mentioned to the waitress – I have no idea why the broccoli was on the plate. Added nothing to the picture or taste – not the strongest dish of the day. 7.5p

Ballotine of Mackerel, chicory marmalade, lemon confit, lentils du Puy, sweet/sour Mackerel nuggets

Back to form. The lemon worked well, the marmalade and also the bitterness of the endives leafs did magic 8.5p

Home-salted organic Cod, butternut purêe, baby spinach, capers, sultanas, crispy-fried whitebait

One of the strongest dishes. The fish cooked to perfection 9p

Tete de Moine, Sardinian flatbread, carrot & sultana salad

Wonderful cheese, for me this could have been the last dish, since I was running out of steam 8p

Pre-dessert

To be honest I forgot what this was, I guess it did not do a lot of things to me, positively or negatively.

White chocolate & green tea mousse, sesame seed ice-cream

Very beautiful presentation. Loved it. But the taste is difficult for me to rate since I rather dislike green tea…..but I loved the details on the serving, the pale colours. So I shall give it at good 9p

Sweets...

Conclusion

I spend a perfect 150 min. All by myself, but never alone. The friendly staff, especially the beautiful waitress Kim, made sure I was always taken care of and entertained, and she even stood up for my old man flirting.  So I shall be happy to be back with the family or with friends. Beside the restaurant, Simpsons offer a few beautiful hotel rooms and even a weekly cooking school which apparently is very popular and something I would be interested in booking.

Only one or two flaws, being the in my book “misplaced” broccoli and the dull pre-dessert – the staff however as well as the outstanding quality of the bread and the overall good quality of the food, surely made this a lunch to remember.

http://www.simpsonsrestaurant.co.uk/

My rating for this visit: Food 8.5p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 3.5p (5), total score for this visit  17p (20)