I visit the latest 3 star Michelin restaurant in Germany
Thursday, July 19th , 2012
At present there are 109 three Michelin star restaurants in the world, and I have now been to 102 of these with my visit this week to La Vie (pictured) in Osnabruck. La Vie cooks elaborate modern food, though the various techniques and tools chefs use these days are very much in the background, so there is no sense of molecular gastronomy in the dining room. Unlike some modern chefs Thomas Bühner is obsessive about ingredients, and has established a kitchen garden near the restaurant that can supply most of the vegetables and flowers used in the kitchen. Another nice bonus in a three star restaurant is the modest pricing of the wine list, with some genuine bargains higher up the list. The cooking at La Vie is very complex, with dishes often having a dozen or more garnishes. This creates a lot of stress for the kitchen, but although normally I am not a fan of this approach, in this case the execution was very skilful, and the extra elements generally worked in terms of flavour combination. The cooking was technically flawless and the service was exceptionally good, so if you enjoy modern cooking then consider a visit to Osnabruck.
Sushi Tetsu was a genuine find (hat tip to my mate Perm), a tiny sushi bar that has just opened in a narrow passageway in Clerkenwell. Sushi in London is a tricky thing: Billingsgate market is a long way from Tsukiji, not just geographically but in quality too, so there is a limit to how good the fish is likely to be, unless the chef goes to great lengths (few do). The chef at Tetsu is making more effort than most, and in particular found some very good sea bream during the course of my meal there. Not everything was to that level for sure (ordinary salmon and squid) but the quality here is a notch higher than just about any sushi bar currently operating in London. As nice touch, it is set out in the traditional Japanese style, with just seven seats arrayed around a counter. Now if they could only get some real wasabi…
Sonny’s Kitchen is the rebranded name of the venerable Sonnys in Barnes. Fortunately the rebranding has extended to the kitchen, with Alex Marks now in charge. Sonny’s has had a surprisingly high turnover of chefs over the years, and I hope that Alex hangs around, because he cooks skilfully. A very precisely cooked sea bream was the highlight of the meal, and a pata negra pork chop also went down well. The pricing is presumably suited to affluent Barnes, but still seems to me quite high for cooking at this level, and that is the main caveat.
The Gate in Hammersmith has branched out and has now opened up in Clerkenwell. It has a more casual fee than the original, but the same vegetarian food, the dishes borrowing liberally from assorted cuisines. As with the original gate, the menu reads better than the actual delivery. For example a take on som tam Thai salad lacked sufficient spicy punch, and summer pudding was well short on fruit flavour. It is reasonably cheap, and the lively atmosphere and its location near Sadlers Wells will doubtless cause it to do well, but I couldn’t get very excited over the cooking.
Next week the blog will resume its usual schedule, returning on Saturday 28th July. Before then I aim to make a further dent in those 3 star Michelin restaurants that I have yet to visit. I will be updating on Twitter for those interested.