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Hamburg Report

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Fellow eGer kellytree and I undertook a 48-hour blitz of Hamburg's St. Pauli and Ottensen neighborhoods, followed by a regenerative Sunday in the countryside. Here my report:

The month of May being otherwise known as Spargelzeit, I gladly accepted an invitation to my friend Carola’s mother’s house on Friday for an asparagus lunch. I was given a peeler and pitched in cleaning the asparagus, which was then boiled. IMO, the Germans cook their asparagus too long, and the result is often a mushy etwas. This version was no exception, but when in Rome... The asparagus was served with a butter sauce with sauteed Brösel, roughly the equivalent of bread crumbs, along with simple boiled potatoes and a terrific Katenschinken, a cured ham Carola’s mom gets from a farmer at a weekly farmers’ market.


Kelly arrived in time for dinner, and we made our way to the Portuguese quarter next to the harbor. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and we settled on Beira Rio. A friendly enough spot, but the food really didn’t cut it. Back in the day, I frequented Sagres regularly, and I remember it being far superior to Beira Rio’s fare. Olaf presents a well-cleaned grilled sardine:


From there, we proceeded back to Olaf’s Ottensen neighborhood. There are a wealth of bars and Kneipen, all within easy walking distance of one another. We spent an hour or so in Duschbar (Bahrenfelderstr.), the current hipster venue. Then it was on to Blaues Barhaus (Große Brunnenstr.), a dancehall/pub. Good crowd, good music, good drinks:


IIRC, bars in Hamburg are required to close for two hours each day, meaning some stay open until 6 or 7. Familien-Eck (where Friedensallee and the Bahrenfelder meet) is one of those joints. Ooohh, bad craziness there. If interacting with trippy freakouts, leeches, and just plain wacked-out drunks is your bag (and it certainly was ours), then this is the place to be at 4 AM. Still, Kelly has a knack for sussing out people that can hold a conversation, too:


On Saturday morning we meandered through the various Passagen downtown, stopping for a beer at the Alster Pavillion (Jungfernstieg), an outdoor café offering a nice view of the Inner Alster, Hamburg’s manmade lake. Then it was on to the Landungsbrücken (Hafen) for a disappointing Thüringer Bratwurst and a delicious Flens. I’m thinking Werner would approve of this shot of his favorite beverage:


The latest fad in the Hamburg gastro scene are beach clubs, where tons of sand are trucked in and dumped alongside the Elbe, around which tacky clubs are built (I understand this is happening in Paris, too). We passed on these and instead made our way out to the venerable Strandperle (Övelgönne), a self-service bar/café on the Elbe. The pleasant weather made for long lines for drinks:


Saturday dinner was at Stocker (Max-Brauer-Allee), located in the former workshop of the Children’s Theater next door. Chef Stocker is Austrian, and so is the cuisine. I’m afraid I was too busy socializing to keep many notes, particularly about the excellent wines our superb (and most entertaining) server selected for us. I arranged for a long Tafel to accommodate the 12 of us:


First up was South Tyrolian bread salad (Südtiroler Brotsalat) with grilled quail. I’m ashamed to admit that this was the first time I’ve had this well-known Austrian specialty – essentially marinated bread with tomato, onion and basil. The quail was excellent.


Next came a ramps soup (Bärlauchsuppe). Ramps is the current fad in German cooking. There are ramps in just about everything, making it hard for me to believe it’s like the truly wild, seasonal product we have here in the States.


Cinghiale pronounced the soup quite good:


The third course was Arctic Char wrapped in cabbage (Krautwickerl vom Saibling), served with a Riesling sauce. This was an intriguing combination of flavors and textures. A good dish:


I asked that there be a choice for the main course: Either veal loin, served with a ragout of asparagus and a ramps pesto (rich, very nice):


Or sea bream (Dorade) with spinach:


Dessert was chocolate souffle with caraway ice cream and a crocant:


Dinner broke up around midnight, perfect timing for a crawl through St. Pauli’s teeming nightlife. It happened to be one of Germany’s many holiday weekends, this time Pfingsten (Whitsun – what is that, anyway?), so the quarter was jam-packed. We started at the new Comet, which was depressingly way less fun that the old Comet, formerly located next to the Herbertstraße, the street that’s, umm, closed to women pedestrians. So we crossed over the Reeperbahn and hit the Hamburger Berg, a two-block street packed with at least 20 bars, ranging from hard-core dives to super-hipster joints. We passed on the too-crowded Ex-Spar (scene of a legendary riot between skinheads and anarcho-punks following Germany’s victory in the 1990 World Cup) and made our way to the even more crowded Rosi's:


The heat drove us out after one beer, and we retreated to the somewhat saner Sorgenbrecher:


From there, we wandered over to Toom Peerstall (Clemens-Schultz-Str.), where a recent renovation has robbed it of its flair. Gone are the transvestite barkeepers and the anything-goes atmosphere. Wary stares greeted this marauding crew, so me moved back over the Reeperbahn and spent a good time in Beat Club (nee Gun Club) (Hopfenstr.), still one of my favorite bars in Hamburg:


Onward toward the harbor we stumbled and ended the night at Golden Pudel, which was filled to the rafters at 3 AM. No chance of moving on the dance floor, room only to drink a beer:


As we left, my addled condition caused me to neglect having us check out the Fischmarkt next door, Hamburg’s open-air institution/circus/market open from roughly 4 AM to 9 AM every Sunday. Oh well. If Behemoth’s around, she’ll scold me.

On Sunday morning (well, later Sunday morning), we drove north of the city to friends’ Grimms Fairy Tale-like, thatched-roof cottage. A regenerative breakfast was the order of the day. Here, porchetta and prosciutto crudo, brought by Kelly from Italy, together with wild boar liver pate, pork liver pate, Rotewurst in the glass, Johannisbeer (black currant) jam, and somewhere on the table Griebenschmalz, rendered pork back fat with porky bits, and a nice, cured, homemade Bauchspeck, all served on great German bread.


A long walk, and then shrimp risotto for dinner (thanks to former Italy host Craig Camp for the recipe, found here), which Kelly very nicely tweaked by sauteeing in some of the prosciutto crudo. Shrimp, pork, cream, rice -- delish:


Hamburg is a good eating and (it goes without saying) drinking town. I neglected to report on my trip last year, which included stops at Poletto (Germany's only *'ed woman chef), Tafelhaus (in a sleek new building in HafenCity), and the inspired Artisan, set hard up against the abbatoirs of the Schanzenviertel. While I usually focus on St. Pauli and environs, the city is cosmopolitan and, foodwise, very diverse.

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great report. I might be visiting a good friend in Hamburg soon and I'll definitely keep your suggestions in mind.

On Saturday morning we meandered through the various Passagen downtown, stopping for a beer at the Alster Pavillion (Jungfernstieg), an outdoor café offering a nice view of the Inner Alster, Hamburg’s manmade lake.  Then it was on to the Landungsbrücken (Hafen) for a disappointing Thüringer Bratwurst and a delicious Flens. 

Never, ever, ever order a Thüringer Bratwurst outside Thüringen :shock::biggrin: ! The local experts (i.e. every single Thuringian :wink: ) claim that real Bratwurste, or Roster as they're locally called here in Jena, have to be grilled freshly made, no longer than 24hs after production. Instead, since they spoil quickly, to be able to transport them elsewhere they need to be blanched loosing much of thier appeal. Well, that and the fact that you need to get them from a good butcher. That means you can only savour them at their best here in the Freistaat. Should you ever find yourself here in Thüringen I'll happily be your Bratwurst guide.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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That means you can only savour them at their best here in the Freistaat. Should you ever find yourself here in Thüringen I'll happily be your Bratwurst guide.

Agreed, Alberto. Been to Eisenach a number of times (auf der Wartburg!), parts of the north (Nordhausen, Sondershausen), and last summer made it to Gotha. And EVERY time I fill up on Thüringer. Next time I venture into "Deutschlands starke Mitte", I'll press on to Jena and look you up. Feel free to PM me if you want any further HH info.

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I was just in Hamburg a week ago Sunday and in the same area that you were on the harbor. The Portuguese restaurants intrigued me but I had read that the Fischmarkt (name of the restaurant not the actual market) was one of Hamburg's best. It wasn't. In fact it was a very real disappointment. Hamburg does have two of the best street bratwurst stands I have found anywhere in Germany on the Monckebergstrasse. They are directly across the street from each other, almos always with a crowd and worth walking blocks out of one's way to try. Haerlin is a Michelin starred restaurant and a visit about two years ago found a very nice and comfortable dinner.

Lubeck, one of Germany's most beautiful and interesting cities, has an outstanding restaurant, Wullenwever, which also has a Michelin star.

Neither of these are on par with what I've found in the Black Forest, Koln or Dusseldorf yet they were both quite enjoyable.

Your photos of spargel are fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

By the way, on this trip I returned to Bareiss in Schwarzwald (Black Forest) and also stopped in Koln (Cologne) and Mainz having late dinner in the restaurants in their respective Hyatts. I have been to the restaurant in Koln before and find it to be convenient when travelling, arriving too late to go anywhere else. The Mainz Hyatt was another matter-it was really good. Surprisingly good. I will go out of my way to stay there again and look forward to dinner. Again, not an over the top meal but a very nice dinner when travelling.

The view of the Rhein and the cathedral on the far side of the river from the hotel is one of the most awesome anywhere. A bridge leading directly from Koln's train station crosses adjacent to the hotel. At sunset (10:15PM), standing on the Hyatt's terrace sipping wine and watching a train pass over, seemingly every minute, is a gift to be able to experience. For this reason alone I stay at this Hyatt.

Bareiss is trying very hard for their third star. I believe the food at the nearby Schwarzwaldstube is a bit better overall but Bareiss' service is the finest I have ever experienced. E 125 showed a 20 course dinner which included, in succession, a cheese course, a grape cart, a sauce cart with each contributing to one plate. This was followed by a pre dessert, two separate dessert courses, an after dessert "nibble" and then two "after nibble" carts each with selections of cookies, chocolates and cakes. Visually, the composition of the various courses were the equal of what I have found anywhere in, say, Paris. Bareiss also has an indulgent luxury that is the finest I have found anywhere: E 600 Topazio silver/crysal decanters, upholstered stools at each oversized table (for handbags), service tables adjoining each table of which there were a total of 8 with 17 people served by 6 staff.

They must be losing a lot of money on this but they are definitely going all out for their third star. Without question the overall experience is the equal of any. Presentation, service just superb, superb! Probably, still two star food overall (although I've found that some two stars AND one stars can have better food than a three!), but I hope they receive their third one. Beautiful hotel, too, although the Traube Tonbach (where Schwarzwaldstube is) is a bit nicer.

Edited by Joe H (log)
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That risotto was wonderful - The bratwurst weren't that nasty - then again I was happy enough to sit my fatbutt down and not have to walk to the big rock or do other sportive activities.


5 cups beef broth - hot

1 cup 'carnarino' - water in which a whole lemon rind has been boiled - hot.

The peel of one lemon grated.

2 cups arborio rice

8 tbls.. butter

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Melt half the butter over medium high heat in a large saute pan - do not let it brown.

When the butter is melted add the rice and toss well with the butter making sure it is well coated.

(there is no soffritto in this recipe)

Add the beef broth 1 ladle at a time for the first 10 minutes - stirring gently but continuously.

After 10 minutes add the grated lemon peel and add the carnarino one ladle at a time until gone stirring gently and continuously.

Use remaining beef broth to finish if rice is not done.

When just al dente remove from heat and blend in the mantacare - the remaining butter and Parmigiano.

The sauce:

Saute 4 large cleaned shrimp per person in a small amount of olive oil.

Add one cup of white wine and evaporate.

Add chopped parsley and 1 1/2 cups cream and reduce until thickened.

Serve over the top of the risotto with parsley and lemon strips for garnish.

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I have always read with great interest your reports on dinners in S. Germany. I rarely make it to that part of the country, but I have made a mental note to reread your posts prior to my next to Bayern or Schwaben environs.

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I was happy enough to sit my fatbutt down and not have to walk to the big rock or do other sportive activities.

The lady dissembles. If you want more info on the "big rock" aka Der Alte Schwede, and how it made it to Hamburg from China :wink: , pm Kelly. For any German speakers out there, it seems the rock has inspired a term for "Can you believe it?" or "Whew!" -- "Mensch, du alter Schwede"


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I have always read with great interest your reports on dinners in S. Germany.  I rarely make it to that part of the country, but I have made a mental note to reread your posts prior to my next to Bayern or Schwaben environs.

Thanks for the nice words. Much appreciate your reports and opinions as well. If you do happen to consider either Bareiss or Schwarzwaldstube unfortunately both have long lead times for reservations. Schwarzwaldstube is roughly as difficult to get into as El Bulli or the French Laundry and I am NOT exaggerating. They accept reservations one year to the day and usually book up for Friday and Saturday within several days. That's one year out. For weeknights I was able to get a reservation for Schwarzwaldstube for December 1st (thursday) when I was there last week. This was my third night of choice!! Bareiss is much better-about two months or longer for a Friday or Saturday and two to three weeks for a weeknight. Both resestaurants are closed on Monday and Tuesday. Both serve lunch but Bareiss' lunch is not the same menu as their dinner menu. It is a la carte while dinner is prix fixe at E 110 and E 125. Schwarzwaldstube DOES have the same menu at both which, last September, was around E135 or so. Occasionally, Schwarzwaldstube will have a table at lunch with only a month or so for lead time. Note that I tried to get into this restaurant, usually with a month's notice, for almost five years before I succeeded last September when they had a luncheon cancellation.

If you do go ask for a table by the window if possible. They have three tables that look out over the valley a thousand or so feet below. The view is truly spectacular.

I think you'll find the food to be on par with Ducasse, Le Cinq, etc. at literally half the price. I would argue with better overall service and a spectacular setting, especially a window table, that is one of the most romantic on earth. It would be a legitimate three star in Paris or anywhere else.

This December we'll go to Schwarzwaldstube and Le Calandre about three days apart. (Six hour drive) I look forward to that although they are totally different.

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For any German speakers out there, it seems the rock has inspired a term for "Can you believe it?" or "Whew!" -- "Mensch, du alter Schwede"

Wow! excellent dishes I see. I love this kind of german cooking...


Question: does alter schwede has anything to do with Sweden (Schweden) or swedes?

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It was actually brought over on a ship from China - it didn't swim over.

Basically its a piece of the Great Wall of China.

This american guy had it brought over to Hamburg - why to Hamburg you ask?

Well Hamburg is where his favorite Grandfather was born so he wanted to put up a memorial for him.

why a rock from China?

Because the grandfather went to China once - fell in love with one of the locals- the locals parents were not happy to see Wan Lin fall in love with the Yank (he was born in Hamburg but raised in the US) sooooooooooo

the couple risked being killed therefore they fled and found a little space between 2 rocks and lived there for 2 years before they found a way to get back to Hamburg

- actually they flew to the US but couldn't get in so they went to Hamburg and the friendly people let them in and actually gave them the key to the city

.. and they lived happily ever after.

That IS the real story (more or less)

Edited by kellytree (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...
Oh well.  If Behemoth’s around, she’ll scold me.


Actually, I was in Hamburg for all of three nights, in transit (ie no days :wacko: ). We hung out in our old 'hood. No Reeperbahn, but lots of chilling in the backyard, no shortage of alcohol natch...

Spent some quality time in Muenchen, though. I thought my German was good, but I'll be damned if I could understand a thing people were saying. Luckily, my husband couldn't understand anything either. It scares me to think some day "Gruess Gott" will roll as quickly off the tongue as Moin, Moin!

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  • 1 year later...

During our dinner at Stocker, we were informed that the chef/owner, Manfred Stocker, was ill with cancer. On a return visit to Hamburg last summer, I was told that he died in Apri, 2006. His wife is continuing the restaurant.

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Hey cinghiale, nice to see you around again. Looking at your report above, I have to say that I suspect those ramps may well be wild. The Englisher Garten 'round here seriously reeks of garlic through most of June.

We should be up in Hamburg sometime next July for family stuff. I really miss it up there! (Especially the nightlife, and the harbor.)

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