Gastehas Erfort is in a smart townhouse setting in the industrial town of Saarbrucken in the west of Germany. The dining room has high ceilings and plain walls, which combined with the wood flooring and wide table spacing give an ample but somewhat bare feel to the room. The tasting menu is EUR 160, with starters mostly EUR 36-55, and main courses EUR 45 – EUR 48.
The wine list runs to 37 pages, and covers the world fairly well, as well as having very fair mark-up levels by 3 star standards. 1983 Tignanello Antinori is EUR 185 but would set you back at least EUR 80 in the shops. Guigal La Mouline 2001 is listed at just EUR 320 for a wine that, if you can find it, will cost around EUR 220, possibly more. Chef Klaus Erfort has been cooking here since 2002.
Macaroons of goose liver and little tomato flans were the initial nibbles, the flan having quite delicate pastry and the macaroons good texture (18/20). Quail egg with truffle in a chicken skin was pleasant if ultimately an egg (17/20). Oyster with green apple and soya jelly (16/20) and crisp yogurt shell with caviar (17/20) were further nibbles. Tuna tartare was nicely marinaded and had a hint of spice, while spiny lobster was cooked with a little angel hair pasta and served with a roulade of octopus stuffed with radish salad (18/20). Finally a ravioli of egg yolk was topped with white truffles and served with a truffle sauce (18/20).
Bread was a choice of rolls (white, brown, seed) and very enjoyable butter bread slices (18/20). Langoustines with peach, chilli and coriander had nicely cooked langoustine but unannounced vanilla flavour in such an amount that it killed any flavour of coriander; even the chilli flavour was barely noticeable (16/20).
Quail soup was served in two styles, as a consommé with a quail egg and shredded vegetable, and as a cream soup flavoured with truffle with little ravioli of vegetables. The cream soup in particular had good flavour. Additionally there was a tender quail breast served on a bed of leek (18/20). Sea bass with mussels and saffron nage was pleasantly cooked with some diced vegetables (17/20).
Bresse pigeon was cooked in a salt crust, wrapped in bacon then served at the table with potato galette with apple discs and a sauce made with the pigeon liver. The pigeon itself was very rare indeed, the apple discs a nice way of introducing some acidity to balance the meat and the excellent but rich sauce (18/20). Turbot had good flavour, timed well and topped with a layer of squid, served with a nage of tomatoes and olive oil, and a slightly soggy courgette flower beignet (18/20).
Cheese is provided from two affineurs, one local and one Tourette from Strasbourg in Alsace. Cheeses we tried included St Nectaire, a Corsican ewes milk cheese and a particularly excellent St Maure (19/20). There was no pre-dessert, unusual at this level of restaurant.
A bitter chocolate croqant had a crispy outside, served with excellent raspberries and a lime foam that worked nicely with the chocolate (18/20). A “banana split” involved banana cream with a cocoa layer on top, a banana sorbet, banana crisp, baked banana and caramelised banana. All technically very good, but the dish suffered from the bananas used being not as ripe as ideal (18/20). Coffee was served with an excellent lime jelly, an apple jelly on a biscuit base, raspberry barquettes, assorted chocolates and a coffee cream oddly lacking in coffee taste.
The price was a very fair EUR 222 for two. Our waiter tried to be charming but seemed rather busy at times, however everything was dealt with effectively. Overall it was very solid cooking, but I never felt that it really touched the 3 star level.