ntv main presenter Christoph Teuner and Oleksandr Otker, ntv France expert, test restaurants. From star cuisine to homemade, from vegan to carnivorous, from Far Eastern to regional. This week our expert travels between Baden-Baden and New York and explains a little about Oetker.
After these crazy years, a trip to Baden-Baden is like an excursion into a world that seems completely lost: there is a glamorous Palace, Kurhaus and casino buildings, a theater and a drinking hall. By the way, the number of Porsches and swimming caps is in balance.
And then there’s the venerable Brenners Spa Hotel, with its green-and-white marquees, decorated with floral wallpaper and Persian carpets, guests won’t be surprised if Agatha Christie is just around the corner. Then the Burmese cat Cleo appears from around the corner, who elegantly wanders the corridors here every day. Everything somehow has the patina and charm of bygone days.
So it becomes even more strange when a guest walks into Fritz & Felix in the evening, to which the hotel has given a separate entrance to open it to the city – and to clear up the German misunderstanding: namely that hotel restaurants always have to compromise with Caesar salads and club sandwiches.
It’s more that big-name hotels have the financial backbone to make their city a culinary beacon, like the Oetkercollection here. (The author of these lines only goes by the name Oetker, there is no financial conflict of interest).
The atmosphere of this restaurant pleasantly distinguishes it from the charm of Baden-Baden – dark wooden tables meet New York sofas, and all the tables are grouped around a large glass in the hall, behind which the Galician Charcoa grill does its work. including a fire show. Everything stored in chef Farid Fazel’s aging cabinets is smoked, tossed and grilled. Grilling is a zeitgeist, meat and fish are popular all over the world, including here. Fritz & Felix is full, almost every night, and the people of Baden also come here in large numbers.
Silky yolk mousse and almond leaf
But the very beginning proves that the zeitgeist is not pursued here, and the chef sends his guests on a culinary journey of discovery with very interesting chords, especially in the vegetable kitchen: with the “Beetroot & Radiccio di Castelfranco2 (€18), the ubiquitous beetroot transmits its aromas al dente like the vegetables and warm like a dark red drink, the light green salad from the Veneto balances the dish with its lightness, the pomegranate and almonds add flavor.
Branded tartare “Fritz & Felix” (€22). Gluttonous, that is, I am actually a tartare purist, in Paris I would always cook my own fillet of beef. Here, however, the composition is the plate, and it works remarkably well: the tenderloin is roughly knifed and sharply seasoned, the tiny capers and yolk mousse add silkiness, and the coarsely grated Belper Knolle creates a depth that makes this tart memorably preserved.
I am kindly allowed to order a meal at the nearby gourmet restaurant “Wintergarten”. The kitchens of the two restaurants work together, with chef Alexander Meyer from Dinslaken in charge of the iconic restaurant with wide windows overlooking the spa gardens for two years. He sends chicory sous vide with aged parmesan, buckwheat, Tajasca olives and Amalfi lemon” (€27). And this is really the dish you visit the restaurant for: the best vegetable cuisine, with a French staple that is always too little in German cuisine, but there is bitterness and spice, pure umami – here Meyer with al dente buckwheat and a wonderful sour-bitter combination olive and lemon.
The room is one big conversation
The Wagyu beef from Oberammergau for the main course proves that the grill deserves its place in the box, tender and soft and cooked to perfection. But again, it is the vegetable side dishes that distinguish them from the monotony of French fries and spinach in other establishments. Yellow beetroot, parsley root with amaranth or winter vegetables accompany the meat, and the guest again goes on a journey through the European garden. It is very successful.
The service, led by maître d’ Matthias Pfundstein, is very polite and at eye level, the whole room is one big conversation. In addition to wine, the adjacent bar also serves sparkling cocktails, giving the restaurant an even more cosmopolitan feel – and when new guests arrive shortly before 10pm, Baden-Baden really feels like a real metropolis – and Fritz & Felix is like its dining room.
Wine tip from Fritz & Felix:
The wonderful sommelier Christina Schanz is from the Palatinate, so her recommendation is local: the 2019 Riesling Dürkheimer Fuchsmantel Quetschenbaum from the Karl Schaefer winery is a great companion for all vegetable dishes with apple and peach notes. for these spring days.