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It was ‘only’ nearly 3 years ago that I went to Germany and I did not really expect to return to the country famous for its bratwurst & pretzel so soon, but I did. Early this year, I happened to be in the Bavaria area (staying in Munich to be more precise) for a couple of days and as a foodie, it made sense to visit 1-2 restaurants in the region. Not exactly sure why … during that period, somehow many of the multiple star restaurants in town were very busy, even my already confirmed reservation at Werneckhof geisel was suddenly cancelled due to the private events 1 or 2 weeks prior. In spite of that, I was still fortunate to be able to have a dinner at the German’s latest 3-star dining place called Atelier, located inside the old & luxurious hotel Bayerischer hof.
There were 2 tasting menus offered at Atelier and I opted for the longer one. Right from the snacks until the desserts, Jan Hartwig and his team displayed the passion of creating dishes that showed variations in flavors, textures, and temperatures / aromas. Diners usually could observe 1 main produce with 5-6 other ingredients supporting it – generally it’s complex but balanced. The fundamental technique and execution were French but the flavors and ingredients were international. A few dishes I would like to highlight were:
-Flaky and delicate john dory with sauerkraut sauce & jelly, dill and bacon. The fish was also enhanced by crunchy croutons and sweet cabbage. The dish looked complicated but put everything together, they tasted good in the palate. That being said, tart was the most noticeable flavor here. In fact, it’s the consistent flavor theme throughout the evening as I later found out that Chef Hartwig actually loves sour taste.
-Supposedly, that weekend was the last period for the region deer hunting and my maître d’ said that the kitchen had truly recommended this dish. The suggestion was indeed spot on – the Polting estate’s venison saddle was executed well with tender texture, good seasoning and deep flavor. The veal sauce & venison jus, creamy polenta, brussel sprout and vinegar jus balanced the meat’s intense flavor. Jan was not only creative / innovative, but he’s also capable of executing a traditional dish to nearly perfection
-Dining in Europe’s elite restaurants during Winter, it should be the norm to see a couple dishes with Perigord truffle. However, at Atelier the only dish having black truffle was at the cheese course … to be more exact, it’s creamy brie beautifully enclosed by the pungent and nutty winter truffle. As expected, the kitchen put more things here – sweet / sour pear and sherry to tone down the truffled cheese intensity. A nice cheese course albeit a little cloying; it’s better than the dessert
-The end part of the meal at Atelier was unfortunately kinda unforgettable. An average pre-dessert followed by a below par dessert. Yes, there was another sour taste accompanied by sweet white chocolate. I was not a fan of white choc. to begin with but usually a restaurant could “cover” it with other elements but here I also did not really like that other components. It’s not bad per se but nothing when compared to the savory dishes. The only positive aspect was that the pastry team made world-class chocolate praline and macarons as part of the mignardise
The restaurant was not that big (covered 20+ people only); all tables were occupied. The décor, by fine dining standard, was rather normal with low ceiling. However, the table, covered by crisp white cloth, was big and the distance between tables was spacious so it’s still quite a comfortable dining room. The service team, predominantly ladies, delivered an outstanding service – attentive, sincere and friendly. I saw they made jokes with some local diners too. The general impression was that I had a satisfying meal. The food might not reach the high level of restaurant Vendome or Aqua (yet) but I believe Jan Hartwig and his team would not stop improving and creating new & better dishes in the future – hopefully, some of them will not be (too) sour / acidic …
Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357...
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