Friday, November 17, 2017

Insane 15th anniversary celebration at the Alte Post in Nagold!

Yesterday, Bill and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  Although last year, we went on vacation to Ireland for about ten days, this year we needed to stay in town because Bill is still earning time off from his new job.  At the very least, it's always been our habit to go out to dinner on our anniversary.  We've enjoyed some wonderful anniversary meals over the last fifteen years.  However, last night's glorious repast will definitely be a tough act to follow!

Initially, we considered finding a really nice restaurant in Stuttgart, like we did two years ago.  In 2015, we tried the "surprise menu" at Five.  As cool as that restaurant is, I think Bill and I have determined that we don't always like surprise menu concepts, mainly because there are a few things I can't abide, like truffles and mushrooms.  Also, the prospect of driving all the way from the edge of the Black Forest to Stuttgart was unappealing to both of us, since Bill is working today.  After trying and failing to find the right place to eat, I finally said, "Why don't we go to the Alte Post's gourmet restaurant again?"

I have written about Nagold's Alte Post a few times.  This beautiful former hotel is now split into two restaurants.  There's the more casual and less expensive Luz Bistro & Bar, which is on the first floor and open daily (except Mondays) for lunch and dinner, and then there's the more formal and expensive Alte Post Restaurant on the second floor.

Bill and I eat at Luz Bistro somewhat regularly, and you'll find many posts about those experiences in this blog.  Last night was only our second time in the gourmet restaurant, Alte Post, which takes eating to a whole new level.  The Alte Post gourmet restaurant is only open Wednesday through Saturday nights from 6:30pm until 11:00pm.  The "deadline" for coming in for dinner is at 8:30pm, although I recommend making a reservation rather than just walking in.

We tried Alte Post's gourmet restaurant for the first time in March of 2017 and had some very interesting and expensive new food experiences.  I really broke some boundaries on that visit and was eager to try it again.  I am so glad I did.  Although we dropped a large load of euros on our anniversary dinner, it was money well spent.  Every course was positively orgasmic and I say that as someone who can be picky and isn't necessarily impressed by culinary gimmicks.

We only live about four miles from Nagold, so getting there is usually easy.  However, last night there was a very bad accident on B28, which is the road that usually takes us to Nagold.  We were met by the police, who directed us to detour.  We drove back through our town and went via Mötzingen, a little village adjacent to Jettingen that we usually only see when we're being forced to detour.  Even after the detour, we arrived about fifteen minutes ahead of our reservation time of 7:00.

Although there was a function going on in another private dining room in the restaurant, we were the first of two couples to arrive for last night's multi-course extravaganza!  Yes, that's right... one of the lovely things about Alte Post's gourmet restaurant is that your table will be relatively private.  There's one dining room with a large table in it and the smaller room with four tables set for two.  Only two of the four were used last night, so you get plenty of room to spread out and enjoy.

We were personally attended to by Marina Hentsch, who along with star Chef Stefan Beiter, runs the whole operation.  Every time we've visited the restaurant, we've seen her waiting tables or otherwise attending to guests.  Besides providing stellar front of the house service, she is also a wine expert (sommelier).  Thankfully, Hentsch does speak some English (and French, apparently), though she claims her English isn't good.  We found her very charming as she seated us and offered us an aperitif.  Since it was our anniversary, we started with a round of champagne.  And she brought us a little snack, pictured below...


This is tuna rolled in a little "cone" and topped with radish slices and caviar.  Although I was a little timid at first, this set the tone for a perfect evening of fine dining.



Bill looking sharp as we decide how we're going to do things...

The first thing to know about Alte Post's gourmet experience is that a set menu is offered.  You can have up to seven courses, but you can't simply pick the courses you want.  Last night, there were courses featuring tuna, lobster, quail, salmon, beef, duck, and dessert.  We opted to have five of the seven courses because the quail included truffles, which I knew I wouldn't like.  The other couple who came in later (and spoke French the whole time) apparently had the full seven courses.  

We also had the wine pairing, which I highly recommend if you like tasting different wines with foods.  Marina Hentsch does a great job choosing wines and explaining them, although it helps to know a little German in that case.  I surprised myself by understanding a fair amount of what she said.

The menu is offered in both German and English.  You can also check it out online and outside the restaurant's front door.  If you have any food idiosyncrasies, I recommend checking the menu before you book your table.  Otherwise, you may find yourself trying and enjoying calves' brains, as I did the first time we tried the gourmet restaurant!  The menu does change regularly.


Not the best lighting, but this is an example of one of the tables.  


Last night's menu in English.  Bill took a German menu.

Once we ordered our five course feast, Marina Hentsch went back to the kitchen and returned with the amuse, pictured below...  It was actually in two pieces.


These little bites were mindblowing.  There was a tomato and tuna bite, sushi with goat cheese and shrimp, and a tempura fried shrimp on a rice cake.


They were followed by hollowed out eggshells, painted black, and filled with a warm curry spiced soup.  It had a bit of a kick to it, which Bill especially loved.  Our hostess also brought us delicious potato bread with salted butter.  It was so good!


Our first course-- fresh tuna with beetroot and green apple.  The beetroot reminded me of a very dry Fruit Roll Up.  It crackled and was very sweet, almost like candy.  I don't normally like beets much, due to their earthy flavor.  I have to admit this was kind of a treat.  Under the beetroot curl, there was a little dollop of what tasted like apple flavored ice cream.  You wouldn't think this would go with tuna, but it all worked surprisingly well.  It was paired with a steel aged chardonnay that was crisper than I was expecting and delightful.


Bill's reaction thus far...


Next, we had Norway lobster served on top of mashed potatoes with bouillabaisse (fish stew) and beautifully decorated with a flower petal.  This was served with another chardonnay which was aged in oak and imparted buttery notes.  Sorry this photo is a little blurry.  I took two shots and they both turned out this way.  :(


It was followed by my favorite of all of the courses, the salmon.  Salmon is one of those dishes that I tend to love or can take or leave.  A perfectly cooked piece of salmon is a delight to me, but when it's dried out or dull, it leaves me underwhelmed.  This particular presentation was very exciting.  The chef paired it with sweet potato curry, avocado, and mangos.  I don't usually like sweet potatoes much, but paired with the curry and Asian spices, this course practically exploded in my mouth.  I loved it!  This was served with a locally produced Riesling, that had a lovely essence of peaches that married beautifully with the curry.


Next, we had the duck, which was Bill's favorite course.  It was served medium rare in pepper sauce with Preiselbeeren (cranberries).  I told Bill that I think I'd love a Thanksgiving dish of duck with cranberries and he immediately started talked about getting out his Anova precision cooker.  Again, beautifully done, though the duck had the misfortune of following the spectacular salmon.   


Finally, we enjoyed dessert... a panoply of chocolate.  There was a truffle that was full of warm chocolate "lava".  I don't really go for lava cakes much, but this was nicely done.  There was a little cloud of foam on top, along with a smidge of chocolate ice cream topped with mousse and garnished with walnuts, grapes, and something that reminded me of very high end Cracker Jacks minus the peanuts.

Once we finished dessert, we were offered a digestive.  Bill declined, since he was driving, but I tried a locally produced Mirabelle (made in Nagold for the restaurant).  I had a Mirabelle last week in France, so it was interesting to try it here in Germany.  It was not served chilled, as it was in France, which I think made it easier to detect the subtle flavors of plums. 

Then we had a round of espresso, which was served with yet another two part treat, pictured below...


Four little candies-- a marshmallow, a peanut chew wrapped in edible "plastic" (which I still peeled off, but didn't have to), a very intense spiced jelly gumdrop, and a little chocolate cookie.


And this amazingly exquisite half lemon filled with light cream and topped with crispy, curry flavored flakes that reminded me a little of shredded wheat.  It was surprisingly delicious.

So, by now, you may be wondering how much this dinner set us back.  Well, folks, I will confess that hospitality at Alte Post doesn't come cheap.  Our bill came to 346 euros before the tip.  However, I think it's important to bear in mind that we were two of only four people in the dining room and both the service and the food were impeccable.  We were both raving about how excellent everything was as we walked back to the car, still bowled over by some of the exotic flavors we encountered last night.  It all worked so amazingly well!

As I mentioned, this was only our second time in the gourmet restaurant.  It really should be reserved for special occasions or nights when you just want to sit for a few hours and enjoy very fresh food creatively prepared.  Yes, it's very expensive, but I think of it as one of life's little experiences... ones that make putting up with all the bullshit worthwhile.  I can see why Chef Beiter is a "star".  If you like gourmet food, I highly recommend visiting Nagold and trying Alte Post.  Bring a credit card and an open mind, and be prepared to spend a couple of hours.


A bonus was that last night, I managed to wear my contact lenses without pain...  By the way, we did dress up because we like to, but there is no need to do that if you don't want to.  The other couple who joined us were wearing jeans. 

Next week, we will be visiting Delice in Stuttgart.  I understand that will also be a culinary adventure.  I look forward to returning and reporting!

2 comments:

  1. Looks like a fantastic meal! I’ve been watching Chef’s Table on Netflix, a documentary about the best chef in the world, their methods and the food they create - it’s fascinating to see how creative people can be with food. Hope to be able to enjoy an experience like the one you and Bill enjoyed someday

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    1. Drew, I gotta tell you, the flavors were insane. I didn't want to get too carried away with this post, but it really was a wonderful experience, especially since there were a few things in last night's dinner that I ordinarily would have turned my nose up at. I don't like goat cheese, for instance, because it's too earthy. In that sushi, the earthiness worked. Ditto for the beetroot, which was almost like candy.

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