Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Breaking boundaries at Five in Stuttgart...

Yesterday, Bill and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.  Since 13 is a quirky number, I decided to find us a quirky restaurant.  I found it when I booked at table at Five.  No, I am not referring to the time at which I reserved.  The restaurant, which has a Michelin Star, is called Five.   I found the place on opentable.de, and decided to book it when I noticed the stellar reviews on TripAdvisor and OpenTable, as well as the super imaginative Web site.  Well, actually, Bill was more into the Web site than I was.  He gets off on artsy stuff and science fiction movies like Blade Runner.


I snapped this photo before we left... I don't know how he does it, but Bill makes me smile so pretty.  I usually smirk in my selfies because when I smile, it doesn't look real.  But when Bill is in the photo, no problem!

Anyway, we battled Stuttgart traffic to make our seven o'clock reservation at the downtown restaurant.  We were warmly greeted by a young, casually dressed man at the door.


The front door.  Directly across the street is a huge parking garage that is open 24 hours.

He invited us to take a look at the bar area while he alerted the wait staff of our arrival.  It turned out we had the first reservation, so he was back quickly. Too bad, because the bar area at Five is really cool looking.  It's dimly lit, with wooden tables and comfortable chairs everywhere, along with chilled out music on the sound system.  I'm pretty sure they serve light fare there, but again, I didn't have a chance to check it out too thoroughly.

We climbed a flight of stairs to the restaurant, which was slightly brighter and quieter, but still decorated with an interesting mural that included a nude depiction of a woman's body.  Seated at a thick wooden table with a rough surface (which Bill said almost gave him a splinter), we gazed around at how the room was decorated.  If you're into visuals, Five offers a feast for the eyes.  From my seat, I had a good view of the kitchen, which was enclosed with glass so clear I couldn't even tell it was there... except for seeing one of the staff cleaning it before dinner got started.


The view from our table.  As you can see, the kitchen is easy to observe.  I was enjoying an introductory glass of champagne, which was served in a wine glass rather than a flute.

We were taken care of by a man and a woman, both of whom spoke English.  They were handling the whole dining room, though at 7:00, we were the only ones there.  By the time we left three hours later, several other tables were occupied, though the restaurant was not full.  My guess is that it gets a lot more business on the weekends.


Obligatory Bill shot for all his fans.

The female server explained to us that we could either order off the menu or do a surprise tasting menu.  Although I tend to be very picky about some things, Bill is more adventurous.  He wanted to try the surprise tasting menu with a wine pairing.  I agreed to be brave.  We told the waitress the foods we absolutely can't do.  For me, it's mushrooms.  For Bill, it's liver or other exotic organ meats (and I wouldn't want those, either... yecch!).  Also, since Bill was driving, they gave him half pours of the wines.  We also ordered a bottle of sparkling water.  I noticed that both servers wore black gloves when they presented the food.


This was the amuse, which was not part of the four course tasting menu we chose.  It looks like an egg, but actually, it's not...  The green base is leek soup.  The "yolk" is made of mascarpone cheese, and the white is a different cheese.  It's garnished with a little ham, some sprouts, and a cracker.  Bill loves cheese, but I'm very particular.  Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and enjoyed this.  I definitely loved the artistic presentation.

When we were finished with the "egg" that wasn't an egg, out came the first course... which also was a challenge for me because it included more cheese...   As this was being served, I told the male server that I don't do mushrooms or truffles.  He gave me a horrified look and said, "Not even truffles?"  Ha ha ha.  I wish I could eat them, but I can't.  I will happily eat turkey corpse, though...  ;)  


The two whitish half discs in the center of the bowl are sheep's milk cheese.  They are surrounded with beet root and topped with crackers seasoned with pink pepper.  Bill's version included mushroom juice.  Sheep's milk cheese is usually not something I enjoy, but this was very mild and not at all offensive.  And the beets, while usually too earthy for me, were kind of sweet.  The color definitely added to the visual presentation.  I managed half of the cheese and let Bill finish it, since he's an aficionado.  


Next came the bread.  It was very fresh and served with butter infused with walnuts and an eggplant spread.  Bill like the eggplant spread.  I couldn't really taste it, though I did think the gilded walnut butter was nice.


I really enjoyed the second course.  This was a langostino served with fennel salad and Belgian endive.  They drizzled date syrup over it, which really played beautifully with the slight tanginess of the endive.  And, of course, the shrimp was perfectly cooked.  This was paired with a local Riesling from the Keller vintner.  We really liked the wine and will be looking for a bottle of it soon.  


We had a slight problem with the next course, which consisted of sweet potatoes, pistachio syrup, bacon, and what appeared to be mushrooms.  As I have mentioned so many times, I can't do mushrooms at all.  It took a few minutes to get the server's attention, and at first, she explained that they weren't mushrooms but were kind of like them.  Then she said they weren't earthy.  I tried to eat one, but couldn't... So she brought out another version of the same dish without the fungus.  I was able to finish that and enjoyed it.  The pistachio syrup seemed to be infused with citrus, which set off the sweet and starchy qualities of the sweet potatoes.  The salt in the bacon also cut the sweetness a bit.  I don't usually like sweet potatoes that much, but I enjoyed this.  Later, the server explained that they had sneaked in mushrooms with the first version and she apologized.  Bill loves mushrooms, so none of this was an issue for him. We had another Riesling with this course, this time from the Mosel Valley.  It was more of a semi-sweet wine.  Again, it paired very well.

It was finally time for the main course.  We knew we were getting different items, since they laid down different silverware for us and we got different wines.  For Bill, they poured a lovely red from the Rhone Valley.  I knew he was going to love that, since he loves red wines from southern France.  For me, they poured an Austrian chardonnay.  I had just been talking about how I like my whites with a little kick.  But when they poured a chardonnay, I knew I was going to be having fish...


And I was right.  The server said the fish was called "kalt" fish, or something that sounds like it.  She said it was similar to cod.  Having tasted it, I would swear it was sea bass, which happens to be one of my favorite fishes!  This was served with wilted greens, artichoke, potato puree, and a sauce made from potato peels.  I think this was my favorite course.  It was delicious.  And whether or not I was eating sea bass, this was sinfully buttery and delicate.  


Bill was served venison, which came with mushrooms and sauce made from blackberries.  I didn't taste Bill's main course because I'm not a big fan of venison.  He loved it, though.  


The above photo is of what they called "pre dessert", which I think was a palate cleanser.  The star tasted like vanilla ice cream infused with cardamom.  It was paired with apple puree and nuts.  The dots around the star were what they called "hot wine", though it wasn't hot.  I liked it... not only was it creatively presented, but it reminded me of apple pie a la mode and was perfect for the fall...


Another obligatory shot of Bill drinking wine...


Finally, we had dessert.  Pictured above is a plum pudding with discs of hazelnut ice cream, chocolate "air" (think Aero candy bars), and drizzled in a plum syrup.  Again, imaginative, creative, and not a lava cake!  It was the perfect ending, paired with a dessert wine from Austria that had the essence of roses.  


We were presented with this little platter of housemade candies just before we asked for the check.  I commented to Bill that in America, no one would ever present food sitting on a tray of rocks.  They'd be too afraid someone would think the rocks were candy!  Lawsuit time!  But here in Germany, people are expected to be able to tell a rock from a Jordan almond and not break their teeth...  I find that refreshing!

As we were finishing up, the restaurant grew louder.  Lots of people were in the bar area, including one woman who seemed to have a really bad case of laryngitis, yet was chattering loudly and incessantly.  Listening to her talk from all the way down in the bar and sounding like she needed complete vocal rest, I quipped that perhaps they should hand out ballgags to go with the rather unorthodox environment at Five.  I'm kidding, of course, but do want to point out that if you're looking for a quiet, romantic restaurant, Five may not be your venue.  It does get rather noisy.  Also, it's definitely not a kid friendly kind of place.  I noticed that many of the other diners in the restaurant were somewhat alternative looking, which I thought was very intriguing.  By alternative, I mean they appeared to be somewhat young and sexy, not stodgy, formal, or curmudgeonly.  Five has a youthful, upwardly mobile, ortherwordly kind of feel.

Our bill came to 282 euros before tip and they do take credit cards.  Although it's been awhile since we last spent that much on a meal, we did enjoy dining at Five.  The surprise menu concept is always risky for me, but I have to admit, it was rather successful last night, even with the mushroom incident.  Bill loved the feel of Five.  I tend to enjoy more traditional kinds of places, but I would certainly not be averse to coming back to Five.  The service is friendly and competent and the food is exquisite.  Besides, everybody needs to venture out of their comfort zones once in awhile.  I'm proud to say that, more than Bill, I did that last night.  Eating cheese and enjoying it was in and of itself a thrill!  If you're up for a culinary adventure and have lots of money to spend, I recommend Five.  They made our 13th anniversary memorable.


  

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