At present there are six 3 star Michelin restaurants in Germany.   There used to be a further 3 star in Munich called Aubergine, but sadly in 1996 the chef was found in possession of narcotics and was forced to close down.  He now cooks in Majorca. 


Im Schiffchen

Restaurant Dieter Muller (at Hotel Lerbach)

Hotel Sonnara

Schwartzwaldstube (at hotel Tonbach)

Residenz Heinz Winkler


Im Schiffchen

Address:       Kaiserwerth (11km from Dusseldrof)

Telephone:      +49 00 49 211 40 10 50

 fax      +49 (0) 211 403 667

Last visited June 2002


A small restaurant near the river in Kaiserwerth (on the outskirts of Dusseldorf), but sadly with no river view.  The dining room is narrow and also has an upstairs area.  The decor has a quixotic nautical theme.  Bread is a choice of white, brown, brioche or caraway, and was of good quality and had a nicely robust salt content.  Service was friendly and superb throughout.  The wine list is mainly German and French, though with a few token visits abroad.  Mark-ups are fairly high though normal by London standards, about three times retail.  As we perused the menu we were able to nibble on cheese straws with ham, and with delightful cones of tuile filled with caviar cream.  The amuse guele proper was a generous red mullet fillet with a torpedo shape of minutely diced summer vegetables – the mullet was timed to perfection, one of the best I have eaten (10/10).  My starter was scallops, sliced and then reassembled into a cone, surrounded by small pieces of tender lobster and served on a bed of spinach leaves, enlivened with a little caviar (9/10).  Stella had turbot with lemon grass and vanilla, garnished with mango segments and served with mango puree.  This odd-sounding combination worked quite well, the vanilla carefully kept in check, and the fish beautifully timed (10/10).  For main course Stella continued with brill in a red wine sauce.  Again the freshness of the fish and the timing were faultless, the fish topped with a little dazzling goose liver, served with an assortment of summer vegetables with a garnish of shredded deep fried leek.  The vegetables were remarkable, artichoke, broccoli, carrot and turnip all remarkably fresh and perfectly cooked, with easily the best turnip I have ever eaten (10/10).  I had Kobe beef, also served with a set of (slightly different e.g. cabbage, mange tout) summer vegetables, with a reduction of the cooking juices.  The beef was fantastic: better than the version I ate in Kyoto, and the red wine sauce was a lovely accompaniment (10/10).  On the side was an unusual potato dish, a cross between rosti and Dauphinoise, which was also lovely.


There was no cheese on the menu.  We moved directly to dessert, crisp pancakes with cream cheese filling, served with an apple sorbet, passion fruit coulis and a few wild strawberries, all of which were lovely – maybe a flavour too many, but it is hard to knock execution at this level (10/10).  A chocolate mousse was rich and velvety, accompanied by simply the best cherries I have ever eaten (and we have had some dazzling cherries in the summers in France and Germany in top restaurants).  Finally a house post-pudding emerged, a remarkable melon sorbet served in a scooped out baby lemon, a fine dish despite my normal aversion to melon.  Coffee with excellent petit fours (truffle, passion fruit tart, mini rum baba around 8/10 level) was a mere 4 euros.  The bill for two, with pre dinner drinks, two half bottles of wine and some lovely dessert wine, was just GBP 150 for two, which is remarkably cheap for cooking at this level.  A very clear 10/10, much better than many 3 star places in France.  There are no rooms here, but plenty of hotels in nearby Dusseldorf. 


Restaurant Dieter Muller (at Hotel Lerbach)

Address:       Bergisch Gladbach

Telephone:      +49 2202 2040

Fax:    +49 (0) 2202 204940)

Last visited June 2002


A lovely old inn with extensive grounds and gardens and generous sized rooms.  The dining room is in a conservatory with views onto an extensive garden.  A nice thought was the use of multiple candles on each table, which made a pretty effect as the sun went down, and several sets of flowers per table also.  Amuse guele was a rather ordinary foccacia with beef tomato puree (6/10) but then a fine lobster gelee (8/10), a little veal in pastry (9/10) and a good watercress soup (8/10).   The bread was excellent, with hazelnut, onion, rye, white brown and tomato (8/10).  The wine list is a huge 52 pages and not cheap, but service was once again superb (a common feature of German 3 star places).  Stella had aromatised vegetables, served in a glass dish and cooked with plenty of Perigord truffles; these were fine but really only 6/10.  Much better was gossamer-delicate langoustine tempura with a well-balanced langoustine mousse (10/10). 


I had sea bass with a crayfish crust for my main course, resting on gnocchi, spinach and mash with a pleasant “red mustard” sauce (9/10).  Stella had two fillets of turbot covered with fine celery slices, on a bed of finely chopped tomatoes with a saffron sauce and a raviolo of lobster(8/10).


We skipped cheese and went for a dessert of apricots: a cake with apricot compote, an apricot mousse with a raspberry glaze and a chocolate sponge base and an ice cream of apricot, lime and thyme (7/10).  The other dessert tried was a cherry plate: a soup of black cherries, sour cherries in a gratin and a chocolate cherry mousse (8/10).  Coffee was very good (9/10) though the petit fours were rather ordinary (an overdone tuile, raspberry in aspic, a mango tart, chocolates) at around 6/10.


Overall 9/10, with a bill for two of EUR 285 for two, again quite fair compared to London.


Hotel Sonnara

Address:       Wittlich

Telephone:      +49 65 78 982 20

Fax:    +49 (0) 6578 1402) 

Last visited June 2002


A pretty country inn with a few rooms and an attractive garden.  Amuse guele were a salmon carpaccio, lobster soup, chilled cucumber soup with a red pepper mousse, a quails egg and raviolo of fish (9/10).  We went for a degustation menu.  Next up was red mullet and a single scampi, sublimely cooked and served with endive, a tarragon salad with a light vinaigrette and a few sprigs of dill (10/10 – indeed superb red mullet was a feature of this trip).  Netx was a very fine Dover sole with langoustine resting on a bed of cabbage with a citrus sauce (10/10).  A fine John Dory was marred only by some overcooked mange touts, an uncharacteristic slip (9/10)   Next course was lobster with a ginger and curry sauce, the lobster without a trace of chewiness, the spices subtle and in balance; even my bete noire, couscous, served here in a filo pastry cup, was good (10/10).  Next was sea bass with red and yellow peppers, the fish again beautifully timed and very fresh, served with some sliced green beans in an aged balsamic sauce, with a few stunning cherry tomatoes with breadcrumbs. A potato puree with rocket and deep fried artichokes was offered as a garnish (10/10). 


Cheese was in excellent condition, and as well as the usual array of French classics (St Maure, Comte, Reblochon, Brie, Munster etc) had a solitary fresh goats cheese from Germany (9/10).  Next, griottes were served with an excellent waffle and a chocolate chip ice cream (9/10).  Then a slight decline with a pleasant vanilla cream with ginger with circles of sponge roulade topped with meringue, along with a yoghurt jelly and yoghurt ice cream topp3ed with wild strawberries (7/100.  Coffee and a wide selection of petit fours were excellent (10/10).


Overall 10/10, and tough to choose between this and Im Schiffchen for the best meal of the trip in 2002.  The chef was charming and very modest – this again was better than a great many 3 star places in France.



Schwartzwaldstrube (at hotel Tonbach)

Address:       Tonbach, near Baiersbronn, Black Forest

Telephone:      +49 7442 49 26 65

fax       +49 7442 492692 

Last visited July 2003


A truly stunning setting in a Black Forest valley, with rooms in the associated hotel Tonbach (we stayed in the superb room 500 on our first trip here) and the restaurant both looking out over dense woods.  The nearest major airport is Stuttgart, but this is still a fairly long drive away.  This appears to be the most acclaimed restaurant in Germany (and gets booked up a year ahead), though we preferred the meals at both Im Schiffen and Sonnora, but there is certainly something magical about this place.  Service is perfect, which just about all the 3 stars in Germany seem to feature.  An amuse guele of red pepper soup, shrimp tempura and diced vegetables was pleasantly spicy (8/10) while a duck mousse, cannelloni of duck, a “ham” of duck and duck terrine on beetroot were all very good (8/10).


The first course was marinated crab topped with a lattice of crème fraiche, with three pieces of smoked crab on top, served with white and green asparagus in a lime vinaigrette (9/10).  I had terrine of pigeon with goose liver, rich and silky served with toasted brioche and a few baby root vegetables in a citrus dressing (9/10).  Two scallops and a pair of langoustines were very well timed, served in a crayfish bisque with white and green asparagus (9/10).  Lemon sole was pan-fried with butter and lemon, served with a few chanterelles and delicate baby broccoli (8/10).  


Monkfish was covered in peppercorns and served with an aubergine puree and a rich cream sauce (7/10).  Venison was tender and served pink, offered with red cabbage and a smear of cooking juices (7/10).  The two desserts were of varying quality.  Chocolate soufflé was well cooked and served with cherries in sherry,  marzipan pancake, sour cream ice cream and a few cherries stuffed with hazelnuts (8/10).  Less successful were insufficiently ripe peaches poached and glazed with peach and rosemary sorbet with a few wild strawberries and a pine nut tuile (4/10). Coffee was very high quality, with some fine petit fours: tuiles, lemon tart, strawberry tart, raspberry tart, truffles (8/10). 


Overall, this meal was perhaps a strong 8/10 or weak 9/10, but with perfect service and a beautiful setting.  Perhaps the least good of the four German places we tried in June 2002, and yet this would still be above several 3 stars in France.  Room 163 is less good than 500, but as it is on one end of the hotel there is a good view.  The food was of a similar standard, around 8/10 overall in Good Food Guide terms.  The menu is somewhat limited in choice, and if you do not eat meat you only have one or two choices at each stage.   Last visited July 2003.


Residenz Heinz Winkler

Address:       Aschau Im Chiengau, 50 miles east of Munich

Telephone:      + (49) (08052) 1799 0

fax       + (49) (08052) 1799 66

Last visited September 2003 


A relaxing establishment in a pretty village, with an attractive view of nearby mountains.  For a very fair (by UK standards) EUR 250 you can stay in a maisonette apartment on two floors with a secluded garden and sun-loungers set up.  The food is perhaps the best in all of Germany, no slight recommendation given just how good the top German restaurants are.  The dining room is decorated imaginatively with a series of murals giving the impression of a countryside setting, and tables are generously spaced.  Amuse guele on the first of two meals we had here over a weekend set the standard: a stunning yellow pepper mousse, a little marinated salmon laced with ginger and sublime diced vegetables laced with a hint of spice and encased in pastry (a sort of upmarket onion bhajee).  A starter of scallops wrapped in lasagne was very fine, as was a whole sea bass cooked in a salt shell.  The sea bass had fabulous flavour, served with a fine cream and chive sauce.  A whole duckling was cooked perfectly and filleted at the table, served with a finely judged balsamic dressing.  All the dishes tried during the weekend were to a very high standard indeed e.g. a fabulous dish of turbot through to simple pan-fried and slated cep slices.  Cheese was in excellent condition, and if one was being picky then the (relative) weakness would be desserts.  A Grand Marnier parfait with orange slices was excellent, as were “tears” of chocolate, essentially fried fondant spheres served in a biscuit case with a coconut ice cream, but they did not quite match the standard of the starters and main courses.  Petit fours were excellent, including a fine mini lemon tart, a passion fruit praline and fine usual chocolate and nut concoctions.  The wine list is extensive and while expensive by German standards is a bargain compared to London.  A fabulous 1990 J.J. Prum Auslese was just EUR 57, for example.  Service is excellent, with the generally OK prices slightly spoilt by excessively expensive mineral water (EUR 7.50 a bottle).  Overall a very fine place indeed to eat and stay. 





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