Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 31 May 2013

“Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime

I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life”

Coming Back to life – David Gilmour 1993

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Coming back to Schloss Berg is ALWAYS a pleasure. A pleasure because you know what to expect. Outstanding food, – a momentary lapse of time. I was so excited to go here with Gijs a while ago. Unfortunately a flu stopped Gijs from participating. So much more was the excitement of finally being able to show him my favourite restaurant in this world. Gijs like classic food. Classic French, given the choice, but classic as such, being a classic German Sauerkraut, or an Italian dish. As you will know by now Gijs knows his trade. He is a fab amateur chef, with a basic knowledge of food I could only dream to have. In a kitchen we each work differently, but in a restaurant – after 18 months of friendship and many good dinners behind us – we know excactly what the dining partner will highligt, like…not like.

So when this is said – Schloss Berg and Christian Bau is pretty pretty far from classic – but what I knew Gijs would enjoy was the explosion of tastes and respect for the produce Bau most certainly has.

But but but…having wrote so many times about this little “Pearl” in Nennig 😉 – I will highlight something else today. I have also mentioned this before – but it becomes more and more evident. Bau has the best f…….. sommelier I have ever met in my life. There might be better ones around – but I have never met them. The ones that comes close would be the ones from my dinners in Le Cinq.

Daniel Kiowski, – you are a dream of a sommelier and yet you are still so young. It is not only your knowledge and choice of wines that impresses me, but the way you treat your customers with such confidence and laid back charm. You are a monument, and that at the age of 26….(I think).  That calls for a Carlsberg. I mean – I have NEVER seen anything like it. You are at peace. This is your profession and passion for sure.

Gastro, the German equivalent to the Michelin guide says in its 2013 issue something like – “Would we have a price for the best sommelier in Germany, the price would easily go to Daniel Kiowski. Of course it would. Damn you are good Daniel.

This´s ones for you.

King of the world

King of the world

I will of course show you a few shots of the food tonight…but not all – because I decided this post should highlight the wines of Daniel.

1st wine.

1st wine.

This perfect light, crispy Riesling was to accompany our first amuses… here are a few of those…..

Italy revisited...

Italy revisited…

Tuna

Tuna – Germany 10 points.

Bio Egg

Bio Egg

2nd wine

2nd wine

Markus Molitor

Markus Molitor

What a wine – I think Daniel has a weakness for Molitor, and one can understand why.

Japanese Hamachi

Japanese Hamachi

What a dish. The Lightness, the freshness. A pure 10.

With this dish I think we got both the wine above, but also another blinder – and no we could not guess it.

Nanbu Bijin

Nanbu Bijin

One way to describe this wine in 4 words. Go there, try it.

Fois Gras, from Landes

Fois Gras, from Landes

I LOVE fois gras, and  LOVE what Christian Bau do with his Fois Gras dishes. I could eat this every day of the week. To go with it another Riesling- we got that much, but we were far off with the vintage, well Gijs said something like 2007 or 2002, and I said guess older, even before I heard his guess. It was a fresh 1995

2 words. Wauw.

2 words. Wauw.

Turbot...

Turbot…

A simple dish, but nothing is really simple here. Everything in perfect balance, the fish cooked to perfection. But in compare to many of the dishes before a much more classic presentation. And today, inside this menu, I think it was the weakest dish.

Back to life...

Back to life…

And back to Molitor. Let me just say I was far off on this one 😉 Was this wine full-bodied, rich and a feast for your pallette. Hell yeah.

Dear deer...

Dear deer…

An aroma arose from the plate. The reduction done with a twist. Curry. Apart from that, classic German ingredients here, Knödel, cabbage, pear…but with a twist of Asia.

To go with this one…we were both fooled big time, guessing Pinot Noir, I was put back to recent memories where I guessed Bonnes Mares in Lameloise and in the end I was a few miles away, the wine being a Clos de la Roche. Today we were both as it turned out roughly 1000 kilometers away. What struck us most was the freshness of this wine.

Did you like this one Gijs? Hell yeah.

Did you like this one Gijs? Hell yeah.

Gijs claimed afterwards – I will never forget this wine. And I know he won´t. He had never been as surpriced anywhere, anytime, anyhow…;-) He loved it.

Black Forest Cherry

Black Forest Cherry

– and to go with that the final wine of the day – oops…no picture but it was another perfect Riesling, a 1999 Auslese, Von Hövel.

and sweets –

Cheese cake

Cheese cake

Last man standing

Last man standing

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Conclusion:

Of course the judgement of Gijs was more or less decided after the first amuse. This is as good as it gets. The chairs, the ambience, even the new young waiter – when he opened his mouth to present a dish the first time – nothing is left to coincidences here. Everything is in balance, the service the food, the wine. The food – the wine – well of course that is why we are here. And it is – stunning. So, Gijs happy. Me happy. Some dishes always get to you more than others. That was also the case today. But as I said in my long intro. Daniel. Today you outshone it all. You are a fucking rock star. Or you are Picasso. Or Beethoven. You certainly are on the top of your game. I have two words for you. Rock on.

Gijs, I am glad you like Schloss Berg as much as I do. Your opinion is weighting a lot in my book and you know that. And I am glad you now know why the missus and I keep coming back to this one. Even if its not classic 😉

We adored the food, the wine – the service. Thanks for having us. Be sure to find us back. As for Gijs, I know he will pass on my recommendation to his family and friends, and they will all be there at Schloss Berg before you can say Blueberry Pie.

My rating of this visit: Hell yeah….

“I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the waiting had begun
And headed straight..into the shining sun”

Coming Back to life – David Gilmour 1993

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Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 14th December 2012

“You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town”

So Christmas came early this year, both the snow as well as the invite to join two of my best friends for a pre-Christmas lunch at our beloved Schloss Berg. Jörgen had not been here since he celebrated his 50th birthday here a good 4 years ago. And of course the development of Christian Bau has only just begun it seems.

Expectations were sky high and the dull cold weather and the boring Riesling we had in the neighbouring hotel, did not spoil our moods.

The beautiful Schloss Berg

The beautiful Schloss Berg

Schloss Berg had decided to open the doors for Friday lunches during the month of December this year and with a Duck theme to fit the season we were ready to meet Santa. It was good to see Daniel Kiowski – the best sommelier I have ever met, and I met a few – and Steffi, the prettiest waitress in Germany – among others familiar faces.

The two elderly gentlemen awaiting the amuses…

Good friend Jörgen...

Good friend Jörgen…

IMG_3836

and good friend Torben.

What then follows is among the best range of amuses you will ever find in any restaurant. I dare you. I double dare you….”Kulinarische Einstimmungen” for sure.

Tartare...

Tartare…

A classic by now, this time with a creme of smoked eel in the cornet.

Red beet

Red beet

Amazing shrimps

Amazing shrimps

Crab...

Crab…

Green stuff...

Green stuff…

I loved the grilled avocado – this amuse was amazing (if not  overly winterly !)…

The fois gras creme with parmesan...

The fois gras creme with parmesan…

Also a classic with bits of truffels – LOVE IT.

The bread....

The bread….

The crust and quality of this bread is so good…..and also the Foccacia (not on the picture) – one can say that the bread alone is worth a visit….

So, having enjoyed all this – a first moment of being happy and impressed occured. Jörgen with his usual dry humour claimed that until now he had nothing to complain about. It is really amazing, both the number of amuses but also each single one of them are justified and still not taking the focus off the menu. And what I like is that some of these amuses you will be happy to find again on your next visit, and some have been replaced.

So – the menu as such was ready to begin….

Fois Gras from Alsace

Fois Gras from Alsace

The fois gras being matched with raw langoustines, green apple and smoked almonds. A great dish. As good as it gets.

Duck "Bouillon"

Duck “Bouillon”

With a chinese touch, the “Dim Sum” lovely the bouillon of course very tasty and powerful with a hint of asian spices I think.

Black Halibut

Black Halibut

Great dish, nothing to complain about here. The sheer quality of the oyster on top…the citrus and the cauliflower.

Duck Supreme "Mieral"

Duck Supreme “Mieral”

I guess you can tell by looking at the picture that everything on this plate was cooked to perfection.  Top of the pops.

Time for sweets….not that we were hungry at this point…but also not overly full. The lightness of the dishes makes you cope “with all this food”.

Chocolate and Banana

Chocolate and Banana

One of my all time favourites from the kitchen. Their updated Banana split is so so good.

IMG_3874

Sweets two…

This little crunchy thing was a bit like your breakfast serial….Jörgen was really impressed by now. And just when he thought the dinner and the amusement was over, this little devil made him smile just one more time.

Sweets three..

Sweets three..

Sweets four...

Sweets four…

And it was over and out for these fat Danes.

Conclusion:

As you can tell, I was as always, and we were as always, mighty impressed. And it is hard not to be, The wines that Daniel found for us, included a GREAT crispy 2011 Silvaner from Rheinhessen, a 1999 Riesling Auslese from Saar, A 2009 Meursault from Louis Jadot, A 1998 Chateau de Fieuzal, and a Beerenauslese from 2006. His confidence, his style, his calmness. Daniel I love you.

And Christian Bau, once again – we thank you and your team for the outstanding level of the dishes, service and ambience. Nothing is left to coincidence, and nothing can be done better. Duck not being my favourite product, I must say that still you managed to impress me and us. And Jörgen has already asked when we are going back.

Rock on Christian Bau – wishing you and your dear ones and all the team at Schloss Berg a wonderful Christmas, see you in 2013

My rating for this as all other Schloss Berg visit. As good as it gets, like a Christmas evening – top of the pops.

And if you are not in the Christmas mood, then check Bruce out on the link below….

Gut Lärchenhof, Düsseldorf, – 18 June 2011

I got to choose this one – going together with good friend Jerome and his friend Jean-Jaques to the highly acclaimed Roger Waters performance of The Wall in Düsseldorf in the evening – we needed a good lunch to fill our tummys and free our minds. By coincidence, the menu had the same colours as most of the stage and scenery art work later had at the show. Red, black and white. The Chef Bernd Stollenwerk holds 1 michelin star and 18p Gault Millau.

The menu

The great building and a touch of blue sky on a rainy day

Located at a golf club, the beautiful building contains the club house, golf shop, and the restaurant – divided by some plants and boxes – in a brasserie and the 1 michelin starred part we opted for. Two lunch menues comes at 65 eur and 115 eur. The a la carte menu is very limited, but I am sure you can choose from the two menues.  The wine list is among the biggest I have ever seen outside France and apart from a huge number of German and French wines, it has the biggest selection of Italian and Spanish wine I have ever seen. All in all there is around 3000 numbers (!) , and having a sommelier dining with us, made the choosing  a tough job. As it turned out I chose the first and third wine, Jerome the second and 4th wine.

Jerome doing what he does best, choosing a wine.

The sommelier quickly understood that there were professionals at play, and participated in both presenting all the wines blind, and in the discussion at the table. He was a truly passionate person, with a great knowledge – (and French speaking to the delight of my two companions). His second in command – a young waiter also very friendly, correct and easy-going.

The beautiful – (open ceiling up to the roof ) – room with the view to tee-off and a putting green, fountain etc. was somewhat disturbed by the horrible carpet and the descision to incorporate both Brasserie and Gastronomic restaurant in one room.

Outdoor terrasse for warmer days...almost on the green.

We ordered the small menu and the following wines…while sharing a chilled Budjweiser – the original European one.

A nice drop - 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Pfalz.

Jerome guessed this one, stating a young Sauvignon Blanc from outside France. A bit too rich to be French according to him. I loved it.

The amuse - tasteful

I will rather have something small and interesting than two or three rounds of nothing. This was acceptable, small – but especially the wasabi ice very nice. 6p

Tartare of Beef with a crispy pepper roll and raspberry.

Best dish of the day. Only complaint was that the pepper roll tasted of sugar and not pepper. The raspberry/raspberry vinegar being the PERFECT companion to the delicate meat. But since the pepper roll did not really bring any spicyness to the dish, the dish lacked pepper or a kick. But still we were all very impressed. Beautiful presentation too. 8.5p.

Second wine - a 2006 Riesingfrom Schäfer-Fröhlich, Nahe

The sommelier chose this one according to the instructions of Jerome who wanted a dry Riesling with some age, but still with an edge and some minerality. And Jerome was happy. It was excactly what he wanted.

This is how Jerome looks when he likes a wine...

Dorade from Brittany, with a Aioli Ravioli and an eggplant creme.

The highligt of the dish being the ravioli (mentioned as a raviolo on the menu, maybe there is something I am not aware of ?). The fish perfectly cooked and the sauce a tad boring. 7p

My choice for red....what a drop.

Jerome guessing party right partly wrong. Nevertheless he guessed a great Bordeaux, – and it was a great Italian on Bordeaux grapes. I have a long story with this wine, by now it had topped and was starting too lose the tannins and fruit. But what a full-bodied, smooth and delicate wine it was.

Slowly cooked breast of veal with leek and "Pfifferlinge".

The weakest dish of the day. The meat having being cooked I think for 48 hours at whatever. No taste whatsoever, and the meat not as delicate tender as you could have imagined and hoped for. As you will know by now I am not always a big fan of slowly cooked meat  – but especially this cut is normally born to be cooked that way. But something went wrong. Maybe the temperature was too low ? My best guess. 5p

The dessert from the menu was swapped to a cheese plate without a fuss...

Great, great selection of cheese, really, selected by the waiter, – all tasty and wonderful. 2 different kinds of bread was offered, 1 serial and 1 with added dried abricots etc. 9.5p

Conclusion:

We all agreed what made the menu and the visit worthwhile – there was no doubt. The starter and the cheese. The top service. Very friendly and very correct. At all times we had water, wine etc. Wines were discussed, opinions presented etc. Throughout the meal a selection of bread was offered repeatedly. We did experience a little too long waiting period after the main dish.

Flaws, few in the dishes. I rate the food to be in almost the same league as Babette in Denmark or Der Butt in Warnemünde. The latter two slightly ahead on the food and Gut Lärchenhof miles in front on the wine selection. So I shall add a bonus point for one of the best wine selections I have ever seen outside France. In fact two more wines landed on the table. Choices of Jerome. The first one was totally gone, nothing more left of anything, a 1997 wine from Languedoc (I think) which Jerome adores and knows very well. One can argue that we ordered the wine and there was no apparent flaw – but maybe the restaurant should have recognized that this kind of wine, which was clearly over the top some years ago, should not even be on the wine list. The sommelier agreed to the surprice short-comings of the wine. But did nothing in regard to removing it from the bill or what would have been correct reducing the price of it to real cost price. I would have done that.


My rating for this visit:  Food 7p (10), service 4.5p (5), ambience 3 (5), total score for this visit  14.5p (20) plus the added bonus point 15.5p (20)

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

http://www.beckers-trier.de/