To catch a stunning sunset while having a freezing Calvados cocktail was perhaps the last thing I expected, having walked past the major thoroughfare across the Elbe from Hamburg and a rather industrial area to get to the restaurant. But defying expectation is probably the modus operandi the chef would agree with.
The theme of the evening is salt and water and we began with a journey round the senses of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. It is a thinly veiled attempt to give amuse bouche an even fancier name and they don’t quite live up to the labels, except for the simple broth for the sense of umami, which shows sticking to the basics is no bad thing. If nothing else, it equipped the guests with the necessary vocabulary for the evening.
Pickled vegetables (the pickled celeriac is genius) instead of bread is a clever move, avoiding the trap of some second rate gluten free baked products. The first courses of various combination of fermented mushroom, trout, Parmesan and horseradish are not particularly memorable but serviceable. Similarly the scallops and hazelnut which followed.
The prepay and no refund policy may not be to everyone’s taste but it guaranteed income and encouraging people to inform the restaurant of cancellation as soon as possible, allowing for last minute guests to bag a seat. Reusing of cutlery in the name of sustainability is frankly a neither here nor there concept but a show of strong principle (read single mindedness) never hurts the reputation of a restaurant. The industrial loft decor is accentuated by big red tool trolleys one finds in garages, together with the bespoke Molteni cooker in the centre of the dining room emphasise the functionality of the cooking philosophy that also reflects the name 100/200, meaning boil at 100, bake at 200.
The outstanding dish of sturgeon belly (where have you been all my life? ), mash and kale sounds basic but it surpassed every other dish of the evening, and showcase most of what hamburg has to offer. The balance and the full throttled yet not overwhelming umami (see above) is impressive.
The wines were adventurous enough to justify going for the pairing with orange wine, natural wine and port (for a savoury course) exhibits the willingness to stray from the conventional which was a delight and highly commendable.
The main of the strong flavoured sturgeon matched by the equally powerful sliced mushroom and kambucha sauce was another case of umami to the maximum and I could only praise their dedication to the cause.
My theory that the best restaurants gets better as the courses goes on is once again being put in practice here as the desert of quince, salty chocolate and milk ice cream (is there any other?) was simply superb, with a good balance of sweetness, saltiness and tart.
Highly accomplished cooking bounded with a steadfast philosophy will stand this place in good stead. An extra push for innovation and ingenuity will propel this place further to the next level. I’m looking forward to my next visit already.