When most people think of high-end restaurants they imagine a grand dining room in Paris, or possibly an exquisite kaiseki banquet in Kyoto. But a list of the best restaurants in Germany reads like as who’s who in fine dining. The country boasts 10 three-Michelin-star restaurants, as many as Italy and more than the UK and Scandinavia combined.
These establishments are scattered throughout the country, mostly in pretty countryside locations, with just two being in major cities. German cuisine is perhaps best known for its sausages rather than fancy culinary creations, but this reputation is misleading. Let me now take you on a whistle-stop tour of Germany’s three-star restaurants.
The granddaddy of the Germany culinary scene is Schwarzwaldstube, set in a gorgeous pine-covered Black Forest valley. It not only has held three stars for 27 years, but has also trained a host of talented chefs. No less than 30 chefs that gone from its kitchen to earn Michelin stars in their own right.
Schwarzwaldstube’s chef Torsten Michel creates exquisite classical dishes like red mullet with artichoke hearts, and sweetbreads with Parmesan crust. Nearby, at the foot of the same valley is Bareiss, where Klaus-Peter Lumpp cooks lovely dishes including roe deer from the restaurant’s own hunting estate.
Gästehaus Klaus Erfort in the Saarbrucken uses top notch ingredients, such as Bresse pigeon cooked in a salt crust. The awkwardly named Uberfahrt is set on the shores of Lake Tegernesee, where Christian Jurgens prepares dishes such as duck foie gras with apple and port sauce.
In a stately home in Bergisch Gladbach is Vendome, where Joachim Wissler serves an elaborate tasting menu of exquisitely prepared dishes, such as meltingly tender pork “paper” with pork liver and roasted onion.
The newest member of Germany’s three-star club is Atelier in Munich, where Jan Hartwig serves inventive dishes like saddle of rabbit with aubergine and anchovies.
Surely the most unusual setting for any three-star restaurant is Aqua, set in the Autostadt next to the Volkswagen car factory. Sven Elverfeld’s modern cuisine suits its industrial setting, serving dishes such as a modern take on beef stroganoff featuring local Simmental beef, with beetroot and fondant potato.
Kevin Fehling at The Table is in an industrial part of Hamburg and offers modern exotica such as goose liver with strawberry jelly and woodruff.
I love the classical cuisine of Waldhotel Sonnora, in a leafy forest setting in the Mosel, where Clemens Rambichler prepares luxury ingredients prepared with great skill.
Not far away from Sonnora is my favourite restaurant of all in Germany, Victor’s Fine Dining. Set in a 12th century house, the gifted Christian Bau displays consummate technical skill in his Japanese-influenced modern dishes that burst with flavour.
In my view the three-star Michelin banner, supposedly a standard, actually varies from country to country. If I compare my own restaurant scores of the three-star restaurants by country, then my average score for Germany is above my score for France. At the top end of haute cuisine you will eat better in Germany than just about anywhere else on Earth.