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Everything posted by malacitana

  1. We ate at both Mugaritz and Akelare last week, and in our opinion Mugaritz wins hands down. All the savoury dishes at Mugaritz were very good to excellent, except two big dissapointments: The flowers starter of fried, shaved artichokes and flower petals has the quality of a snack rather than a proper dish. There were tons of shaved, fried artichokes and very little flower petals, giving the impression of munching away on a bag of crisps. But who wants to eat a bag of crisps prior to a proper meal at Mugaritz? We didn't like the second dish (crisp bites of taro and coconut with a frozen stock of grilled sardines and sweet oil) much either. At first I imagined coconut and grilled sardine to go with each other really well, similar to the ajo blanco soups with coconut and caviar at Dani Garcia's restaurant Calima. The stock had a strong smoked flavour, almost identical to a dashi broth flavoured with shaved bonito flakes and was chilled by pouring it over a slush of ice. The overall effect was dash slush with two tiny paper thin disks of (not young) coconut flesh. Boring. Mugaritz really excelled with the desserts. The pain perdu is the best version I have ever tasted. This year the accompanying ice cream had a new twist by infusing the milk it is made from with fig leaves. Great stuff. We also really enjoyed the pumpkin, coffee and boniato dessert. Pumpkin and coffee is a great flavour combination, and the boniato really strikes a harmonious chord with the other two ingredeients. We were also offered a complimentary dessert of excellent peach with a vanilla almibar and green almonds. At the end of the meal we were invited to the kitchen, and the cooks very warmly recommended a restaurant in San Sebastian called IBAI. We tried to make reservations, but nobody ever picked up the phone. Has anyone been there? At Akelare, the overall impression was a total reign of “form” over “function”. The dover sole and the red mullet dishes looked really pretty, but the fish was so salty that any of the other flavours on the plate were hardly perceptible (in any case, the fusili that came with the red mullet are only filled with homeopathic quantities of various sauces). We additionally ordered some plain dover sole for our six year old daughter. The fish , for which they charged an amazing €50, was way overcooked. That really left an unpleasant aftertaste. The peach dessert was a joke. Clearly very labour intensive, but precisely the same taste can be easily assembled at home by serving plain white chocolate, an ordinary ready-made peach puree, some cherries, almonds, pistachoes and an inferior pain perdu. The fish at Elkano was another major dissapointment. It started well with a starter of very nice chipirones, grilled and with onions. Then we had a 1.2kg dover sole. Although the fish was certainly super fresh and perfectly grilled, I had considerable problems with the preparation of the dish. The fish arrived at the table on a big plate swimming in a fairly salty lemon vinaigrette. The waiter who carved the fish inevitably doused the fish in the vinaigrette thereby ruining it for me. I like fried crispy chili squid with lime zest. But why serve such a strong lemon vinaigrette with such a nice dover sole?! Puzzles me.
  2. The most german fare is to be had at Vau.
  3. I had the same feeling as you two years ago on my first and probably last visit to Gagnaire. The kid glazed with oriental flavours and with blueberries still brings back bad memories: The kid was overcooked, no sign of oriental flavours and the blueberries were a couple of spoons of blueberry jam straight from the jar. Incredibly weird. I also remember a starter of stringy, dry and sandy snails accompanying an otherwise acceptable seafood stew. Desserts were also underwhelming with only two different straightforward soufflés to choose from. And Gagnaire was there personally ...
  4. At the high end, I highly recommend Calima, in the Don Pepe hotel. The cook, Dani Garcia, used to work in the well-known Tragabuches restaurant, where he used to have a Michelin star. For some reason, he has not regained the Michelin star at the new location. But the food (modern Spanish cooking with malagueño roots at ** star Michelin level) and setting is fantastic. Also, try out the old centre of Malaga for casual dining. Friday and Saturday evening is great for going out with great atmosphere and hardly any tourists (but it doesn't really get going before 10 pm or later). Two Tapas bars that my Malagueña and I like are La Mensula, close to the bullfighting ring, and more modern La Rebana close to the cathedral. For casual dining I'd recommend Palo Cortado which has inventive starters, very good grilled meats, and always one or two excellent fish dishes, or Meson Astorga, which offers quintessential Malaga cuisine, or Clandestino right in the centre, a very casual place favoured by the in-crowd. We've been several times to Cafe de Paris, which has a Michelin star, but were always dissapointed.
  5. El Jornu in Ribadesella is also worth a visit for exellent and simple fish dishes.
  6. Munich has several interesting, casual restaurants that offer what you're looking for, i.e. new twists on traditional german and/or austrian recipes. And it is a pretty town too (although, perhaps, Berlin is the only city in Germany which meets your requirement of a truly big city). I would recommend the following Terrine Blauer Bock Landersdorfer und Innerhofer Zauberberg Broeding Retters Schubeck Except the last one, they are not Michelin-starred. Another very interesting restaurant is to be found in Nuremberg, approximately one hour by train from Munich: Restaurant Essigbrätlein, Weinmarkt 3, 90403 Nürnberg, phone: +49911225131. It is really tiny, I guess a maximum of 20 diners, so you'll definitely need a reservation. The food is fantastic. malacitana
  7. I had precisely the same impression when I had lunch at Can Roca a couple of weeks ago. When I compare with Carme Ruscalleda's food, I have to agree with Michelin to promote only her restaurant to three stars this year.
  8. Berlin has nine one-star Michelin restaurants, most of which are deserved. So there is definitely the possibility of high-end dining in Berlin. Maxwell, by the way, is certainly not in that category. Definitely noteworthy, in my opinion, are the restaurants VAU, with a style of cooking which is not French, but creative takes on german and austrian food, and 44, where Tim Rause does some fantastic and very creative cooking (not recognized by Michelin so far).
  9. There is the Hasir chain (5 restaurants) which offer decent Turkish food. Their newest restaurant is on the Oranienburgerstr. near Hackescher Markt. But don't expect high-end dining.
  10. I personally like VAU which serves very accomplished modern German food. They have a lovely terrace as well. malacitana
  11. No, haven't been to either Schlossberg or Sonnora, since both of them are virtually in the middle of nowhere. From my experience, I liked the food at mueller and vendome better than at either schwarzwaldstube or bareiss. For me, to decide between mueller and vendome is almost impossible. They are both very, very good. Of the twenty or so three-star places I've tried so far, I'd probably rank them 4th or 5th.
  12. I've been to both, Bareiss and Schwarzwaldstube a couple of years ago. Can't remember the menu details, but I remember that I was utterly dissapointed by Schwarzwaldstube which is supposed to be the best of the german three star chefs. I remember the food as very unexciting. But maybe I was unlucky, or it was a mistake to go for the tasting menu. I remember that many of the a la carte dishes sounded more daring. I remember Bareiss as a very nice experience. From both, expect the food to be more classical than at Dieter Müller's. I've also been to Heinz Winkler's three star restaurant in Aschau. This is, in my opinion, the worst of the german three star restaurants. It appears that his cuisine stands almost still.
  13. I've been to L'Alezna this summer for lunch. It's a nice, modern restaurant which is located above a small river, and the diners have a nice view of the landscape. It is very difficult to find, though. The food seemed to be an absolute bargain, if I remember our four course lunch menu was around 25 Euro. I had an additional starter, which was a sea urchin, filled with a cider sauce, and topped with a small, very thin biscuit which again was topped with small cubes of apple jelly and julienne of apple. One had to crush the biscuit and mix the crumbles and the apple into the sea urchin. The result was excellent. Then we had a spinach salad with grilled green asparagus, asturian cheese, and crystallized honey. Very nice. Then a refined classical asturian fish stew, with a very concentrated fish stock. Not a creative dish, but the ingredients were all excellent. It was one of the best fish soups I ever had. The meat was a braised piece of iberian pork in an infusion of dark berries. You must like pork fat to enjoy this, but it was melt in your mouth. Dessert was a carrot cake with caramelized orange zests. Was good, but didn't strike me as very spanish. Altogether a very nice experience.
  14. michelin issued press release on 21 Nov, and the guide appears on the 24th
  15. Germany now has a seventh three star restaurant: it was awarded to 34 year old Christian Bau cooking at Victor's Residenz Hotel Schloss Berg. There were also two promotions to two stars: Aqua in Wolfsburg and Amador in Langen.
  16. I just had a lunch at Patrick Guilbaud. I splashed out on the 165 Euro seven course surprise menu: Oyster set with a green apple jelly and topped with a light foie gras ice cream. The oyster-foie gras combination worked surprisingly well. I think this was the best dish I had at PG. The only downside was the presentation with the ice cream placed on top of the oyster, which made the dish somewhat inconvenient to eat. Scallops on a thin strip of puff pastry and wild mushrooms. Nothing spectacular, nice fresh scallops, but the wild mushrooms were too bland. Terrine of foie gras with a fig chutney. A big slap of highest quality foie gras terrine, and the chutney had an intense fig flavour. However, foie gras served two times in a menu is too much for me, especially in those quantities. Dover sole with a morel cream. A really thick and very nice slab of dover sole, unfortunately dusted with butter-fried breadcrumbs which were too intense for the fish, and I would swear the morel cream was made with dried morels, since it suffered from the typical sharp smokiness of dried morels. A shame. Venison with mulled wine sauce, muesli, polenta with small pieces of green apples, and a small cube of green apple jelly. The idea of the dish was not bad at all, but the venison, unfortunately, was way too stringy. The polenta was very nice, made with cheese and very light and creamy. A selection of irish cheeses Chocolate fondant with Guiness ice cream. The fondant was rather strange, the liquid center was too small and still extremely liquid, like milk. I prefer the liquid center to be more creamy. For my taste, the baked bit was too dry. The flavour combination of chocolate and Guiness ice cream works, but the ice cream could have been much smoother and creamier. Altogether a dissapointing experience which was way overpriced. Foodwise I would not rate PG as a two-star experience, but rather as an average one-star restaurant.
  17. Carme Ruscalleda's Sant Pau absolutely and unreservedly merits a third star. When I went there at the end of October, I found both the food and service almost perfect, and, in my opinion, it has an edge over both Arzak and Berasategui. I've never been to Can Fabes or Can Roca, so I cannot compare with either of these two. I agree with John's observation that there is a certain similarity in style between Ruscalleda and Keller. I found the savoury dishes at Sant Pau and the French laundry equally well balanced in terms of texture and composition of flavours. I would assert, though, that the desserts at Sant Pau are more inspired. See also the review of Sant Pau that I posted a couple of weeks ago.
  18. u.e., on the way to lübeck you could go via dortmund (approx. 100 kms from Cologne), where "la table" is an interesting option. There are rumours that it is a candidate for a third star. but i'd be interested in learning the name of the place in lübeck. didn't know that there is an important restaurant there. p.s. give the coin a bias towards vendome
  19. if you like innovative cuisine, maybe you should have a look at www.lemoissonnier.de. a very nice and french bistro in cologne with one Michelin star and which offers surprisingly inventive food. on the website, look for speisekarte, and then speisekarten: vorspeisen, hauptspeisen, desserts, which includes a description of the dishes in english and french. one of my favourite restaurants worldwide for a relaxed evening.
  20. both are located in castles. dieter müller's restaurant has been there for quite some time and is decorated in an elegant and luxurious, but conservative and a bit old fashioned way. vendome is rather new (maybe three or four years old, in a completely refurbished restaurant). the walls are wood panelled, boasting chandeliers with offensively bright bare light-bulbs. The chairs, banks, and the room partitioners are covered with a cheesy beige cloth with golden imprints. In my opinion, the restaurant tries to be luxurious in a rather aggressive way. Just not my cup of tea. But I'm sure that it appeals to many people. What is nice about the place, though, is that when you enter the restaurant, the kitchen is visible through a large window.
  21. The prices at Dieter Mueller and Vendome should be pretty much identical with around 120-130 Euros for a full-scale degustation menu. Value for money should be much better than in either France or the U.K. Both restaurants are in walking distance or a short taxi ride from the S-bahn station Bensberg (line S1). Food at both places will not dissapoint. In my opinion, these are the best two of the german three-star places. I guess Dieter Mueller resembles what most people seek in a three star restaurant, and the hearsay goes that it has improved lately (and I went about 2 years ago and it was very good). The food at Vendome is modern, straightforward and product-centred food with some local references. I actually found the menu that I had there Red mullet sauteed with a bacon condiment, artichoke salad and tapenade Coquilles Saint Jacques with sea urchin veloute and turnip puree grilled John Dory with caramelised tomato, compote of octopus and artichoke in sauce ali-oli (had artichoke two times in the menu because we requested a menu change) belly of pork with small mushrooms and cumin and bay leaf jus filet of hare with brussel sprouts scented with juniper and renetten apple-wine and truffled salsify vacherin mont d'or with jerusalem artichoke (topinambur) and pumpkin oil mosaic of exotic fruits with a jasmine sherbet and frozen infusion of citronelle and peppermint If I had to make a choice based on the food, I'd personally opt for Vendome. If you go, let me know what you think of the decor.
  22. I've been to both, Dieter Mueller and Vendome. Dieter Mueller does very french-inspired haute cuisine, perhaps somewhat comparable in style to Antoine Westermann (Buerehiesel in Strassbourg). If you opt for the 19-course amouse bouche menu, it is only available at lunch-time. Dieter Mueller also is famous for his cheese selection of around 160 different cheeses. Joachim Wissler at Vendome (have a look at www.schlossbensberg.com/index_e.html for a sample menu) is the youngest of the german three-star chefs and his style of cooking is definitely more modern and innovative than Dieter Mueller's. I found the ambiance dreadful.
  23. Yes, we also had the sweet potato veloute as an amuse. But there were only two, and definitely no foie gras. Do you recall your lamb chops? The meat was good, but could have been slightly more tender. I have never been to Can Roca, so I cannot compare. In terms of food, I personally preferred Sant Pau to Cinc Sentits (but also as compared to Arzak and Berasategui. El Bulli cannot really be compared). The service at Sant Pau was flawless, but one of the most formal I have encountered in Spain, and I personally prefer the more casual style at Cinc Sentits. The ambience of the two restaurants is also very different with Cinc Sentits much more modern and minimalist. I would recommend Sant Pau for lunch if one has one of the tables which oversee the garden up to the sea.
  24. The menu was 99 Euros per head. We also asked for a wine pairing and we were charged around 4 Euros per glass. A bottle of water was 1.50.
  25. Last week we spend a couple of days in Barcelona and managed to try out a couple of the restaurants that have received some attention in the forum. So I thought it might be interesting to share my impressions. On the first evening, we had reservations at 9:00 p.m. at Cinc Sentits, knowing that this is a tad early for Spain, but in this case it didn't matter at all: Everyone in the restaurant, except me and my wife, were American. Not that I mind, but overall feeling was more NYC than Barcelona. We had the "Omakase" menu with two appetizers, four savoury dishes, a cheese course and two desserts. The first appetizer was the maple-syrup, cream, cava sabayon, rock salt combination that I had already read about in some of the postings. The second appetizer was less spectacular and I cannot, for some reason, remember. The first dish was cigala (langoustine) with chanterelle mushrooms served on tapioca, and an intense, dark shellfish reduction. The cigala was of pristine quality (the spanish fishermen apparently were on strike during that week). The shellfish reduction was reminiscent of a concentrated bouillabaisse and combined very well with the mushrooms and tapioca. This summer, I was served a very similar concentrated (shell-)fish soup at L'Alezna in Oviedo, Asturias. Similar in style was also a very concentrated sauce made of tuna-bones that accompanied a cylinder of bonito served at Casa Marcial, Arriondas, Asturias. Then followed a piece of sauteed monkfish, served with a black olive compote and lemon caramel, and on top of a few tips of sauteed or grilled green asparagus. I think that monkfish with black olive compote and lemon caramel, or with green asparagus and lemon caramel, could strike a harmonious chord with the lemon caramel balancing the bitter notes of either the olives or the asparagus. In this case, however, the amount of lemon caramel was too little to achieve any balancing effect, and the bitterness of the asparagus overpowered the barely traceable olive compote. The fish itself was above any doubts. The next dish was, as far as I can remember, a cube of crispy papada, i.e. pork jowl, served on a risotto with pistachios, and topped with an airy foam of rosemary. An accomplished dish showcasing iberico-quality pork with an interesting spectrum of textures. The last savoury dish was cep-dusted lamb chops served alongside a puree of caramlized leeks and concentrated lamb stock. The cep-dust imparted a nice, earthy flavour to the well-flavoured, but slightly tough chops. Then followed a cheese course with three different cheeses. To me, the most interesting combination was a blue cheese similar to, but creamier than Cabrales, with dates. The idea of first dessert was based on a couple of well-known strawberry flavour combinations (strawberry and rose, and strawberry and peppercorns, strawberry and cream) a delicious Tahiti-vanilla panna cotta with a jelly coating of rose water and pink peppercorns, topped with a strawberry-balsamico vinegar sherbet. I suppose most restaurants in Spain prepare their sherbets to order with a Paco-jet which always achieves sherbets of a perfect texture and temperature. The strawberry taste was quite intense, reminding me of ripe wild strawberries. The second dessert was a three layered cake: chocolate, tia-maria cream, and hazelnut parfait topped with a granizado of coffee. The next day, at lunchtime, we took the regional train to Sant Pol de Mar which is the location of Carme Ruscalleda's restaurant Sant Pau. The menu at Sant Pau starts with a micro-menu of three savoury and one sweet appetizers. The three savoury appetizers are mini-versions of traditional Spanish dishes from different regions, whereas the mini-dessert is a creation of Carme. The October micro-menu consisted of a very airy scrambled egg with tiny crisp strips of bacon (duelos y quebrantos from Ciudad Real), a bean and ham stew (andrajos from Albacete), a mixture of bacalao, potato and garlic (atascaburras from Cuenca), and a little ball of marzipan, red wine and manchego cheese, making an interesting start. The appetizers, the petit four and the cheese course are all served with a small leaflet featuring the names and hand-drawn renderings of each dish. The first dish was an aspic of lobster, different types of mushrooms, a pistachio nut pudding, and a quenelle of ice-cream made from sauce ravigote. This was an incredibly accomplished and satisfying dish. Every element of the aspic had an incredibly intense taste, and the super smooth ice-cream, which was more subdued and slightly more acidic than a regular sauce ravigote, managed to bring together all the ingredients and elevate the dish to perfection. The next dish was a bacalao showcase with cube of bacalao, brandade and bacalao guts, served in a soup of garlic and integral bread, and accompanied by a crisp wafer of black pudding. This was as refined as the first dish, but as refined as one can get with a bacalao dish, I guess. Interestingly, this was the third time this year I had bacalao guts in Spain, previously also in Casa Marcial in Arriondas, Asturias, and in Mugaritz, San Sebastian. It has a somewhat similar taste to the meat, but an entirely different texture (almost like agar-agar jelly). The following dish was sauteed squid, stuffed with ceps and meat, and served with three different pepper purees. This was the weakest dish, in my opinion. The squid wings were crispy, which adds a nice touch, but the tube itself was slightly too tough. I would guess that by trying to achieve crispy wings, the squid is subjected to heat for slightly too long. Still a nice dish, though. Then came another small masterpiece. Sea bass cooked in fig leaves and sprinkled with pink salt, accompanied by a sauce based on a fig chutney, half a marinated fig, and strips of sauteed and spiced apples. It's amazing how cooking in fig leaves can impart such an intense scent of figs and estragon. The sweet-sour combination of the other ingredients worked extremely well with the fig-scented bass. As meat dish, I chose four different textures of beef, served with a cocoa-scented reduced beef stock, cubes of aubergine, deep-fried basil, and deep fried green pepper (pimiento de padron, I would guess). The cheese course was also very accomplished, For me two of the five combinations stood out particularly, namely the tete de moine with a wobbly beer foam and bread crisps, and the taleggio with dried vineyard peaches and Chianti. The real highlight of the whole menu, however, were the desserts. The first dessert was based on pineapple and coconut. A slice of pineapple was topped by an outstanding disk of pineapple jelly, topped by a moist, quite dense pineapple-coconut sponge cake, all of which was served on top of a few drops of aceto balsamico, and with a "sauce" of excellent, fruity arbequina olive oil. In the same bowl, the dessert was accompanied by a quenelle of coconut ice-cream and a white, crisp, mint wafer. The dessert was finished with a small shot of pineapple coconut milkshake. An outstanding dessert which was very refreshing, and still rich enough to be very satisfying. The second dessert included, what appeared to be a generously sized chocolate bonbon decorated with gold foil, but which was indeed a perfect, small and warm chocolate fondant, with a liquid but yet very creamy centre. This was served with two sauces, a vanilla sauce and a milk-chocolate sauce, a small sponge cake with a quenelle of white chocolate mousse. The white chocolate mousse was smoked and had the texture of english clotted cream. Carme later explained that she finds white chocolate overly sweet and had looked for a way of balancing this sweetness, and has therefore decided to smoke the chocolate cream in a smoker. In my opinion, this has worked excellently. Freshness unusual in chocolate desserts was imparted by gold-foil decorated gin-tonic jelly. A fantastic dessert. I must say, to me, the desserts served in the top Spanish restaurants always seem much more inventive and accomplished than the desserts in comparable restaurants in, say, France, Italy, Germany or the U.K. Anyone agreeing with this observation? The menu was finished with seven excellent petit fours, one of which was a chocolate bonbon filled with white chocolate and Perrins. I guess Perrins means Worcester sauce, i.e. another way for offsetting overly sweet white chocolate. On our last evening we went to Commerc 24 which was a desaster. We ordered the 68 Euro festival de tapas consisting of a set of small appetizers, and 10 tapas served in three waves, a cheese course, and two desserts. The appetizers included Seville olives, potato crisps served with a vinegar foam, puffed rice with curry, pulverized popcorn, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, and three sardine tins filled with different types of stews. The olives were meatier but otherwise identical in taste to regular canned green olives. Dipping the potato crisps into the vinegar foam resulted in such a thin coating that the result was identical to salt-and-vinegar crisps widely available in the U.K.. The puffed rice was o.k., the pulverized popcorn glued my gums together, and the stews were comparable in quality to what you get in the numerous spanish ventas along the motorways. The ham and cheese sandwich was made with jamon iberico, buffalo mozarella and bits of black truffle and was quite nice. Overall, however, a very dissapointing start. The first tapa was a tuna tartare served in a bowl with an egg-yolk mustard mixture. Not spectacular, but o.k. The second tapa was bacalao that had to be drawn over the plate from right to left in order to immerse with several sauces and condiments. I can't remember, however, what these were, since the overall impression was a strong fishy taste, not as in desalted bacalao, rather more as in not very fresh fish. We didn't finish this dish and called the waiter, who took the dish away and apparently reported to a head waiter. The head waiter came to our table and we were lectured that he (the waiter) tasted the bacalao, that the dish is precisely as intended by the kitchen, and that we would not be aware of the difference between fresh cod and bacalao. Quite arrogant, I must say. The third tapa was coca with herring and olives, which was a hearty, nice tapa in a very conventional style. The second round of tapas started with a "kinder-huevo", an eggshell filled with mashed potato, scrambled egg and black truffle. Quite o.k., but of course not comparable to Thomas Keller's truffled egg custard. Then came snails pinched on a small skewer and wrapped with jamon iberico. The jamon, apparently, had been heated and consequently acquired a bacon-like texture. A shame, in my opinion, to do this to jamon iberico. The next tapa was supposed to be a foie-gras cream served in a smallish bowl and covered by lentils. My wife's was o.k., but mine tasted as if the foie-gras cream was substituted by pure salt. I wasn't able to taste anything but salt during the next hour. The head waiter took the dish away, came back and apologized for this fatal mishap. We were, however, by now, in no mood to continue with the dinner and asked to pay for what we had and leave. The head waiter informed us immediately that we wouldn't have to pay at all. Disappointed to the bone we left. Luckily, we were able to walk-in and finish our evening in close-by Espai Sucre with a wonderful three course dessert menu.
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