Dallmayr is a restaurant on the upstairs floor of a famous central Munich delicatessen dating back to 1870, reminiscent of Fauchon in Paris or Fortnum & Mason in London. If you are coming for dinner when the shop is closed then you just need to ring the doorbell of the shop, and the staff will come down and collect you.
Diethard Urbansky has worked at Dallmayr since 2001 and became head chef here in 2006. After finishing his studies he worked at a few restaurants before landing at the famous Tantris from 1986 to 1988, then moved to the Hilton Grill in Munich, which gained a Michelin star in 1991. He became chef de cuisine of The Beetle Tavern in the same city in 1999 before transferring to Dallmayr. The restaurant gained a Michelin star in 2007 and a second star in the 2009 guide. The dining room seats up to 40 guests and has a view over a square. Tables are large and generously spaced, covered with good quality white linen. Two menus were on offer, a six course one at €160 (£130) and an eight course menu at €175 (£142). They were flexible about mixing and matching dishes from the two menus.
The wine list was substantial and had excellent coverage of Germany, as well as an extensive French section and additional choices from Spain, Italy and Austria. Mark-up levels were very fair, especially if you are used to restaurants in London or New York. Example wines were Fritz Haag Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese 2009 at €69 for a wine that you can find in a shop for €39, Emmerich Knoll Riesling Smaragd Vinothekfullung 2009 at €100 compared to a retail price of €73, and Trimbach Clos St Hune 1999 at €244 for a wine that you will you back €210 in a shop. At the more rarefied end of the list, Gaga Costa Barbaresco 1995 was €385 for a wine that you can find in a shop for about €270 and Chateau Margaux 1995 was €905 compared to a retail price of about €600. Water was an excessive €9 per bottle.
An amuse bouche of mackerel with cucumber jelly and soy bean sprouts was unexceptional, but I enjoyed a little yeast dough filled with bell pepper foam and topped with a slice of bellota ham (average 16/20). The saffron bread served was made in the kitchen, served warm, and was excellent, with good texture (17/20).
Amuse-bouche was shrimp served both raw and deep-fried, alongside parsley cream and banana chips. The shrimp was of reasonable quality, but the idea of pairing it with banana and parsley was bizarre, the flavours clashing rather than complementing (13/20 is a kindly score). Consommé of salmon with sea grass, bell pepper and fennel chip was a more sensible combination, but the salmon flavour was subdued and the soup quite salty, even to my taste (14/20).
Crab cannelloni with sea urchin butter, chicory and crab mousse was a much better dish, the pasta good, the crab tasting fresh and the textures pleasant (16/20). Pork chin with sardine, spiced toast and tomato cream had pork that was a little dense in texture, but quite good tomato flavour (15/20). Scorpion fish came with artichokes and a beurre blanc flavoured with Amalfi lemons. This worked quite well, the fish accurately cooked and the lemon bringing some freshness to the sauce (16/20). Red mullet was topped with crispy scales and was served with razor clams, mussels and cocoa beans, with a rouille sauce. This dish also worked quite well, the crisp scales giving an interesting texture contrast to the fish. It was correctly cooked, but was a long way from being the best red mullet that I have tasted (16/20).
White asparagus from Bavaria was late in the season, served with pine nut cream, chicken oysters and ginger beer sauce. The chicken was fine and the asparagus pleasant but just a little flabby in texture. My local dining companion, who knows his white asparagus (and grows his own at home), was unimpressed (15/20). For reasons that elude me, what was intended as a "palate cleanser" was served next before the main course; I never really understood the thinking behind this course that was once popular, and thought it had withered on the vine in the 1970s. Coconut jellybean with soya and watermelon was just strange as well as being very salty (12/20).
Cockerel breast stuffed with wild garlic came with morels and cauliflower in assorted textures, with the cockerel leg served separately. I enjoyed this dish, the morels having good flavour and the cockerel working well with garlic (16/20). This was followed by Raclette cheese with roast onions, chive cream, potatoes and a vegetable sauce. Again, this dish was very heavily salted, and my taste is firmly to the salty end of the spectrum (13/20).
For dessert we were served medlar, white chocolate and olive crunch, which just did not work for me, the sharp medlar clashing with the olive flavour, neither complementing the white chocolate (12/20). There was a final dessert in the form of pandan (an Asian leaf with a floral, grassy flavour) panna cotta and grapefruit foam and a cup of white tea. The foam was fine, the panna cotta flavour of the pandan simply a strange choice as a pairing with grapefruit (13/20).
Service was superb, the staff friendly and efficient, topping up flawless, the wine service particularly good. The bill, based on the six course menu but with plenty of good Riesling to drink, came to €230 (£187) per head before tip. If you drank modestly then the typical cost per head would be around £180. Overall, while Dallmayr was a pleasant enough experience, I enjoyed the service a lot more than the food. The issues were partly with dish design (bananas and prawns - seriously?) but also with consistent over-salting of dishes, to an extent that many would find actively unpleasant. I like my dishes saltier than most, so when I comment on over salting it is like Homer Simpson complaining that he has too much beer - it is not something that happens often. Some dishes were fine, and I liked the bread, but there was nothing that really stood out to me. By contrast, the service quality would have graced any three star restaurant.