Schloss Berg (Part 2) – Review
Victor’s Gourmet Restaurant Schloss Berg
Tel. +49 (0) 68 66/79-118
Food type: Modern French
Food rating: 10/10
Nearest tube: -
Website: Schloss Berg
When I last left talking about Schloss Berg, I had barely touched half the dishes that Chef Bau had cooked for us. You can read about Part 1 of my review here. As I mentioned, I had the privilege to eat two back to back meals at his restaurant. The first meal highlighted on this blog was from our ‘lighter’ lunch. It is worth mentioning that there are no concessions offered but as you probably already know, there are plenty of extras thrown in. The 4-course menu that we tried during lunch is probably the most popular options with diners but for our second meal, we decided to brave it and try Bau’s 12 course “Voyage Culinaire”.
Obviously eating two meals back to back presents some challenges for the kitchen. Undeniably there will be some repetitions but it is also a very good test of the kitchen’s repertoire and versatility. I will only talk about the new dishes that were part of the extended tasting menu, omitting the canapés and pre-desserts which were similar.
Cornet of Tuna Tartare, Caviar, Avocado Cream, Yuzu Sorbet
A refreshing nibble of a cornet of bluefin tuna tartare with avocado cream and yuzu sorbet topped with imperial oscietra caviar was in one word, magnificent. I honestly thought this nibble was even better than the cornet of beef tartare served the day before – the tuna full of flavour with the acidity from the yuzu refreshing. To think that the chef literally came up with this dish as an alternative to the cornet of beef tartare is simply unfathomable. (10/10)
Poached Blue Lobster from Brittany, Quinoa, Apple, Curry Aioli
Amuse Bouche was a delightful plate of poached Brittany blue lobster on a bed of roasted quinoa and quinoa salad, apple, curried aioli and dots of pea shoot puree. As expected, the lobster was cooked “mi-cuit” with German precision, the flesh barely set and the quinoa giving the dish different textures. For me, the dish was enlivened by the little blobs of curried aioli. Many chefs try to infuse foreign flavours in their cooking with indifferent results. Specifically, curry leaf is a pretty aggressive and harsh element so to pair it harmoniously with lobster was both a masterstroke and a monumental achievement. This was a perfect dish in terms of the cooking, the flavours and innovation. (10/10)
Gazpacho & Olive Oil, Sea Cucumber, Carabinero, Iced Tomato
Another tweak on the previous day’s dish of gazpacho and olive oil this time was garnished sea cucumber (not really a vegetable…), carabinero (Spanish prawns) and the tasty iced tomato seeds. Sea cucumber is very popular in oriental cuisine, and the Chinese in particular braise/ slow cook it to the point they are soft and gelatinous. Now, often sea cucumbers sold dried/ dehydrated, so it was very interesting to try it in its actual, untainted forms. And what about the dish itself? Oh it was delicious of course! (9/10)
Marinated Langoustine, Watermelon, Jelly of Dashi
Langoustine, in true Christian Bau fashion, was served two ways. The main dish was a tartare of marinated langoustine topped with umami-filled dashi jelly and watermelon prepared in various ways. The watermelon sherbet in particular was a revelation – intense, bursting full of sunshine flavour – in contrast to the warm, roasted incarnation. (9/10) It is worth noting that the original dish uses crab instead of langoustine, but was reworked due to my allergy.
Croustillant of Langoustine, Japanese Mayo of Miso and Soy
The second part of the dish, a small croustillant of langoustine wrapped with thread-thin kataifi (a Middle Eastern pastry made from shredded phyllo – think of it like Shreddies) before being deep-fried until crisp and golden. On the side, was a little Japanese-style mayonnaise infused with the flavour of miso and soy. This little crisp parcel was delightful – light and airy, and the kataifi giving the croustillant a unique texture. (9/10)
Goose Liver from the Alsace
An encore of the variations on Goose liver was up next, the reason probably because they overheard me raving about how awesome I thought it was first time around. So this is much an excuse to show a picture of the dish in its full glory instead of the little tasting portions served the day before.
Scallops, ‘Seawater’ Tapioca, Chutney of Carrots, Air & Aroma of Ras El-Hanout
A whole XXL sized scallop was sliced into three before being seared, served with ‘seawater’ tapioca, carrot chutney and flavoured with ras el-hanout (a Middle Eastern Spice mix; the term itself means ‘head of shop’ and is used to signify the best selection of spices that a particular shop has to offer). I personally prefer scallops to be kept whole and intact, but they were nevertheless well timed, and the interplay of textures between the slightly gelatinous tapioca and toasted quinoa was pure genius. This has to be one of the best scallop dishes I have tasted. (10/10)
Deboat Sole Crusted with Pepper, Green Asparagus with Pancetta ‘Joselito’, Lemon Butter
Fillet of sole was crusted with pepper, served with some beautiful green asparagus wrapped with Joselito pancetta. I was rather concerned when reading the menu as, going by experience, crusting a piece of fish like Sole, which has a subtle but distinct taste, with a strong element like pepper can be rather tricky. The balancing act was spot-on, with just a small amount of peppery bite and yet again reminding me why Chef Bau is so highly revered by the foodie community. As for the asparagus, wrapping it with Joselito pancetta was not for aesthetic purposes as the vegetable was nicely infused with the smoky, meaty aroma from the pancetta. To round this simple dish off was a dollop of creamy, unctuous lemon butter. (9/10)
Sweetbread of Veal, Chanterelles, Pointed Cabbage, Truffled Polenta
Pan-fried veal sweetbread on a bed of chanterelles was executed masterfully. I am often frustrated when served sweetbread in restaurants simply because they are either overcooked and dry or wet and limp. What was put before me was a cooking masterclass in preparing the perfect sweetbread with a soft, almost milky interior and crisp, caramelized crust. For me, however, the dish was all about the truffled polenta. When the word polenta is mentioned on any restaurant menu be it a thrifty trattoria or a high-end French restaurant, it often conjures up images of yellow, gloopy stuff. The inside joke in the catering industry is to see how much polenta a chef can get away serving given that they are cheap as chips. Here, white polenta is used and they are well hidden within little bon-bons floating in a pool of black truffle and veal jus. I stand up and applaud chef Bau for making something as boring as polenta magnificent. (10/10)
Saddle of Venison from Eifel, Celery with Orange, Jus of Venison with Bitter Cocoa & Candied Black Olives
The best dish on the night, and the entire trip was a classic dish of roast venison with a chocolate-enriched jus. For those who have been following Masterchef Professional on BBC Two, it is obvious that cooking a classic dish is often as hard, if not harder than a modern, innovative dish. The reason is obvious – diners, especially well travelled ones will make direct comparisons with pre-existing versions in their food memory – so there is no where to hide with even the smallest imperfection. Every element on this plate was flawlessly executed, with the standout being the jus, enhanced with bitter cocoa and candied black olives. Nowadays, with today’s ‘modern’ cooking good sauces tend to be forgotten for smoking gimmicks and nitrogen cooking. What qualifies for a jus tends to be a smear or at best a spoonful of sauce. It is refreshing to see a chef serving sauces in generous amounts – so much so that a small jug was placed at the side ‘just in case’. Every drop of it was immensely satisfying with just a small hint of salty sweet tang from the candied black olives and the bitter cocoa adding a velvety silkiness. This was as perfect as a sauce could get and with the help of plenty of bread, I greedily mopped every single drop up. (10/10)
Cafe Arabica – Iced Cream/ Creme Brulee/ Granita
After an intense marathon of savouries (and wine), a much needed dose of coffee was needed. A duo of coffee flavoured desserts was a welcome addition. First was a crème brulee as perfect as any crème brulee you will find with just a hint of coffee so as not to distract from how perfect the custard has been cooked. Then, served in a cappuccino cup was a coffee granita and cream, with a matching spoon-shaped biscuit tuile embossed with chef Bau’s initials. (8/10)
Sesame, Green Tea & Rice Pudding – Panna Cotta of Sesame/ Sauce of Matcha Tea; Calamansi / Ice-cream of Rice Pudding
It is undeniable that Chef Bau is intrigued by the flavours of Japan. A second dessert of sesame panna cotta with a green tea sauce was stunning – the panna cotta perfectly set, and the perfume of the green tea sauce coming true well. On the side was the chef’s take on the British favourite of rice pudding. Instead of the conventional rice pudding topped with fruit compote, instead the rice pudding was served cold in the form of an ice cream on top of a calamansi and fruit jelly. Very satisfying indeed. (9/10)
Citrus Fruits – Degustation of >Sour< Citrus Fruits, Yuzu/ Grapefruit/ Lime/ Citron from Amalfi/ Calamansi
A final flourish of desserts was a degustation of citrus fruits featuring no less than six small desserts based on all things sour. My favourite of the lot had to be an petit Amalfi lemon tart and an espuma of grapefruit and pomelo. (8/10)
Throughout the entire meal, there was not a single instance of boredom despite the almost endless stream of courses. Portions were generous but because the pacing of the meal itself, there was not a single point where we felt overwhelmed with the amount of food. Often, restaurants try to rush you through an entire evening even when you are enjoying the multi-course degustation menu, in an effort to turn tables but you never get the feel that you are being ‘processed’. Wine pairings were interesting with the German only wines chosen showing great breadth of the product of this country.
Christian Bau is a true genius in every sense of the word. Not only is the cooking technically sound, but the thought and creativity put into each dish is astounding. His “Voyage Culinaire” menu literally takes you on a voyage around the world. Despite ideas and techniques firmly enrooted in classical French cooking, you have a sense that you are taking a journey of discovery around the world stopping in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. There was great variety of flavours and ideas in his cooking over the two days. At times, some of the dishes may be complex such as the sweetbread and lobster. Nevertheless, Bau is not afraid of stripping a dish down to the bare minimum, presenting simple, uncomplicated plates of food (e.g. venison and sole). Chef Bau deserves every one of the three stars that he holds. If you want a taste of heaven, all you need is to take a short flight to Luxembourg and sample of his cooking.
Pros: Inventive, intriguing, engaging food. Top quality produce. Exemplary service. A true 10/10 restaurant.
Cons: The restaurant is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.