Earlier this week, a short trip to Hamburg included some wine and dinner experiences of good – and not-so-good – quality.
Since Hamburg is an important business centre, I gather some of you readers have the opportunity to go there from time to time – for better or worse.
So a few tips and warnings …
Unprepared and no bookings
Let’s face it: Travelling unprepared and unbooked is not a good idea, as it often will preclude some great moments.
Book your table, if you have any idea about where you are going. You will often be appropriately rewarded.
First evening: pure luck and coincidence
The first evening meal in Hamburg was found by pure luck: the restaurant (brasserie) Cafe Paris, located near the town hall.
This is a classic old bistro with the air of 1882 and plenty of people. The food we had here was quite delightful, yet ample enough to send Greta Thunberg in orbit. More moderate servings would have been ok – in fact desirable.
First was pumpkin soup – “Kürbiscremesuppe mit gerösteten Kürbiskernen und steirisches Kürbiskernöl” – classical and refined, but a bit on the spicy side. I adore pumpkins – although they tend to be scared when the meet the hungry hog at the table.
Next, my dry-aged relative the pork chop – “Schweinekotelett mit gebratenen Steinpilze und Trüffel-Kartoffelpüree.” Deligthful meat and ceps, but a bit too much even for the Winehog to master. This is 2019; the portions should at least be a normal edible size. Sorry: way too much.
On the wine side, Brett Brothers Macon-Chardonnay Climat Crays 2016: a lively, intense and weighty wine. A true pleasure in the glass, and very interesting.
In total it was a tremendous (double entendre intentional) and enjoyable meal, and this was why I tried it again on day two for a pit-stop. Please note: This is not fine dining; this is a classic local brasserie.
Cafe Paris: Full … and then all hell breaks loose
Day two was supposed to be a light reunion with Cafe Paris, but sadly it was completely full.
So out of time and full of desperation, we tried a local steak house called “Block House,” which turned out to be a repulsive place. Stupid is as stupid does!!
The salad was boring, albeit fresh, but the steak was strangely spiced, presumably trying to hide some unclean flavours. AWFUL, and a disgrace to Hamburg and Germany as a whole, come to think of it.
Evening three: Die Bank … a return
Some seven or eight years ago I attended a business dinner at Die Bank, and it was a fine event. So why not try again?
I had a three-course dinner: Tartar of char, pumpkin cream soup and breast of black chicken with risotto.
Aside from the rather watery risotto, it was an excellent and professional performance, although rather expensive. But it worked very well indeed, and was enjoyable and lively.
On the wine side I had the pleasure of two half bottles of Domaine Jean Fournier, Marsannay »Longeroies« 2014 – rich and somewhat developed with the last bottle .. perhaps with a hint of premox. A delightful wine nevertheless — and interesting seen in context with the rather limited wine list .. not quite matching the Brett wine of two days earlier.
The German treat
If you have ever visited Kadewe in Berlin you know the food department is outstanding. The same is true at Kadewe’s little brother Alsterhaus in Hamburg.
The Beisser restaurant in the butcher’s department makes some lovely cuts. I enjoyed a Wagyu burger – a treat – but don’t let other restaurants lead you astray when this option is available. It must be the real thing.
Last but not least, the Caviar House at Alsterhaus is also quite good, though not quite matching the one in the Geneva Airport. But good enough, and miles better than the one in the Copenhagen airport!
The end of a short week in Hamburg
On the last evening – Wednesday – once more visit to Cafe Paris. Again, a fine standard, lively atmosphere and plenty of people.
Starting with soup: “Pumpkin cream soup with reddened pumpkin seeds and Styrian pumpkin seed oil.” Even better this time …
“Gebratenes Filet vom Loup de Mer an sautiertem Gemüse in der geschmorten Zucchini, dazu geräucherte Tomatenjus” (fried filet of seabass with braised zucchini stuffed with sauteed vegetables and smoked tomato sauce).
A delightful dish, and size-wise more suitable than the Schweinekotelett from my first visit.