We were debating where to travel after our stay in Munich. Our choices included Barcelona or the Basque area of Spain, back to Italy or even somewhere in France. However, we chanced on this article in the New York Times about Baiersbronn, a small German town in the middle of the Black Forest that is home to seven Michelin stars – the highest number of stars per capita in the world. Close enough to the romantic road and Alsace across the border, Baiersbronn itself does not have any of the charming castles to make it a popular tourist destination. Further research unearthed that it is home to over 500km of hiking trails which sealed the deal for us to make it our vacation spot for a short three days.
There are two 3-Star Michelin stars in Baiersbronn, separated by a mere 6 miles: Restaurant Bareiss, at the Hotel Bareis, and Schwarzwaldstube, at the Hotel Traube Tonbach. The story of the two hotels in itself is interesting since they have competed in a game of oneupmanship over the past six decades, trying to best each other in terms of offerings (five-star accommodations, gourmet restaurant, spa, etc.). Unfortunately, the Michelin-starred restaurants were closed for two out of the three evenings we were there, so we had to choose which one we would go to: we decided to stay at the Hotel Traube Tonbach and dine at Restaurant Bareiss.
There are only eight tables in the entire restaurant, able to seat two to four diners each. Under Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp, the globally-influenced menu features seasonal local fare made with pristine French techniques. Unlike in America, a table here is never turned and belongs to a single party for the entirety of the evening. Each table is impeccably set with a peach rose arrangement:
We decided to go with the six course menu (rather than the eight course or a la carte), but it was really more than than that since the kitchen sends out more than a few extras. Immediately after we ordered they brought out a tiered tray of canapés containing small bites of a salmon and wasabi sushi square, spring onion tart, green apple profiterole and a beef tartare:
They also provided a bread service of a selection from four different types along with a butter service that offered both salted and unsalted versions with two different salt selections. Another extra course arrived featuring Maischolle fish with a variety of spinach tastes:
Along with the beautiful plate of fish came this cup filled with a spinach cream where the greens were layered underneath:
A great example of international influence, this last extra course came with a slice of young tandoori chicken sitting atop couscous and yogurt sauce, served with a small papad cracker made with lentil flour:
Our stomachs were already getting full by this time and we hadn’t even started our actual six-course dinner yet! Since foie gras is banned in California, we try to get it when we can, and they allowed us to substitute this Variation of Foie Gras course from the eight-course menu to act as the first course. The decadent goose liver was served as a terrine, ice cream, foam and as a mousse with rhubarb. The thick slice of brioche was a great accompaniment to the foie gras:
The sommelier suggested that we pair the liver course with a glass of Praepositus Moscato Rosato, a sweet red wine made in the Southern Tyrol part of Italy. It was a great pairing, and we placed ourselves in his capable hands for the rest of the evening for wine selections. After that first course, he suggested that we order the split bottle of a 2011 Schätzle Grauburgunder RS, a pinot gris. Not a variety we would normally drink, this Italian varietal thrived under German vintners. As we moved to the later courses, we split a bottle of a 2010 Dr. Heger Häusleboden Spätburgunder which was a really a great German Pinot Noir.
The white halibut poached in grapeseed oil with asparagus and béarnaise sauce was delicate and delicious. The fish was very tender and paired well with both the green and white asparagus:
The semolina with spring morel glazed sweetbreads and cream of lovage was a great version of the offal dish. The sweetbreads were cooked perfectly and the lovage and morels in whole and paper form added in an earthy flavor:
The last savory course actually came in two courses. The breast and braised leg of Nantes duck with wild garlic gnocchi were served on two different platters. The breast was cooked perfectly rare and was really delicious. Our server told us that Nantes ducks do not fly, so the breast are not as large as that from a typical duck:
The leg, served on its own plate, was equally delicious as the breast with very crispy skin:
The cheese trolley was pushed to the table, containing at least three different tiers of cheese, each with a choice of 15-20 different types of cheese. The server pulled out the bottom layer which contained just the hard cheese selection:
It was hard to narrow down the choice from more than 50 cheese selections, but we did our best to take 12 different tastes. The cheese was served with a bread selection, red and green grapes and a choice of honey, jams and mustards:
We were very full at this point, but we thankfully thought that the since the dessert was small, we could finish it. The strawberries served with cream cake and lemon thyme were delicious. Similar to the other courses, more than one variation and dish was provide and in this case, the bowl contained a strawberry mousse:
We thought we were finished, but they brought a second course of dessert bites which included macarons and a Black Forest Cake cone:
We apparently were not done yet, since the server pulled another trolley to the table containing a wide variety of petite fours and cakes. We really couldn’t eat another bite, but she was so convincing that we had to try the chocolate mousse cake. The triple layered chocolate was excellent and really put us over the edge of fullness:
Chef Lumpp came out of the kitchen to greet all diners at some point in the evening. In addition, they provided us with a copy of our evening’s menu signed by Chef Lumpp, which made for a great souvenir:
The dinner was a splurge, and we admit that we have had more than our share of splurges this year, but it was well worth the experience and visit to Baiersbronn. When we mentioned to our head waiter that we came here because of the NY Times article, he mentioned that guests from about seven to eight tables in the past couple of weeks had also seen the same article.
We can easily see why Restaurant Bareiss has achieved 3-Michelin star status: the food and service were excellent. The menu may say six courses, but in reality it was twice the number of dishes. No one could possibly leave Restaurant Bareiss hungry or in want for anything as all levels of appetites seem to be accommodated with the various trolleys and extra dishes.
Note: The BarFlys are vacationing in Germany. SF posts will return soon; in the meantime, please enjoy these travel-related posts.