Douce Steiner was born to good cooking, and has a Michelin star to show for it. Last night, at the Restaurant Hirschen in Sulzberg, Germany, just a forty-five minute ride from Basel, I had an opportunity to experience firsthand her personal credo of “Flavor above all”.
Our large group of fifty had the place to ourselves. We just managed to snug into the two elegant-yet-homey dining rooms, where we were treated to a five-course menu, if you don’t count the taste teasers that opened the evening. From amuse bouche to desert and coffee, the meal was exquisite. The juxtaposition of visual cues and taste bud surprises made for a genuine romp from course to course.
It was almost impossible to pick a favorite dish, but I especially enjoyed an amuse bouche of salmon roe atop a tiny blini with a champagne froth, and the lobster ravioli, lapped with a carrot-ginger sauce and served with a lobster claw. For this one-time vegetarian, it was also a surprise and delight to bite into a plum-sized morsel of oxtail that provided an unexpectedly savory addition to tournedos of US beef.
Dessert put the meal over the top, with its fruit variations and accompaniments, which included a small pot of crème brulee, one of my favorite sweets.
The Gasthof Hirschen was built in 1585 and has remained a hotel for more than 300 years. Its Restaurant Hirschen is all about family: Douce Steiner’s father, Hans-Paul Steiner, together with his wife Claude, built up the kitchen that became, and remains, their daughter’s playground. Our meal at the Hirschen was a testament to the Steiner family’s impeccable pairing of the perfect wines with a superbly executed menu.