Editor's note: in late June 2020 it was announced that this restaurant will not reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Near the famous English Garden, Geisels Werneckhof is a 50-seat restaurant decorated in Art Nouveau style, with cherry wood bench seating extending throughout the room. This restaurant gained a Michelin star in 2013 and in 2017 gained a second star. The head chef since 2013 has been Tohru Nakamura, who was born in Munich and trained at Konigshof before spending two years at Vendome, also working at Oud Sluis as sous chef and doing short stints in restaurants in Japan including at Ishikawa before returning to Munich. The place is actually owned by the same Geisel family that own Konigshof in this city.
There was a choice of five course menu options at either €160 (£141) or €190 (£168) with costlier ingredients, or similarly seven courses at either €175 (£155) or €205 (£181). We had a time constraint today and went for one of the shorter menus. Bread was bought in from a local bakery and was pleasant though unexciting. The wine list ventured well beyond Germany and France extensive, and had labels such as Hatzidakis Aidani Assyrtico 2014 at €55 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for €19, the gorgeous J.J. Prum Spatlese Wehnlener Sonnenuhr 2004 at €85 compared to its retail price of €48, and Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petit Cote 2014 at €110 for a wine that will set you back €49 in the shops. For those with the means, there were grander offerings such as Marques de Murrietta Castilla Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 1987 at €220 compared to its retail price of €127, and Fontaine-Gagnard Batard-Montrachet 2012 at €560 for a wine whose current market value is €249.
The meal began with a trio of nibbles. Salmon was topped with aubergine, ginger and radish, which went well with the fish. Veal tartare with kohlrabi and sunflower was nicely seasoned and had good flavour. Best was a Japanese take on panisse, the chickpea flour puff that is fried in olive oil, here with a slice of tofu and topping of micro-leaves and served warm (17/20 nibbles on average).
Chawanmushi is Japanese savoury custard traditionally served in a tea cup: “chawan” is a tea cup and “mushi” means steam. This custard was flavoured with dashi (Japanese stock made from kelp and dried bonito flakes) as well as saffron, caviar and walnuts. This had plenty of umami quality and was very good, the walnuts brining a nice textural contrast to the custard (17/20). Lobster was tender and served with pickled cucumber and finely chopped cucumber. The pickled cucumber was particularly nice, its vinegar neatly balancing the inherent sweetness of the shellfish (18/20). Sea trout came with watermelon and both red and yellow tomatoes. The tomatoes had excellent flavour but the fish was just a touch mushier in texture than ideal (just about 15/20).
Danube salmon, a river fish called “huchen” in German, was excellent, served with smoked eel, artichoke and yuzu sauce. The fish was accurately cooked and the eel was an interesting and successful pairing with it. I particularly liked the sauce, whose citrus acidity cut nicely through the richness of the fish and eel (17/20). Red mullet came with carrots, hazelnut and mace. The fish itself was just a tad overcooked but this was made up for by some superbly flavoured carrots, while the hazelnuts went well with the fish (just about 17/20). The final savoury course was pigeon from Anjou, which was lovely. This was served with courgettes, chanterelle mushrooms, anchovy and lovage. The bird was beautifully cooked and was carefully seasoned, bringing out its excellent, slightly gamey, flavour really well (18/20).
For dessert, a summer berry dessert featured a mix of red fruits: strawberries, raspberries, black and red currants as well as a flavouring of verbena, cassis and liquorice. The raspberry in particular was of superb quality, and the cassis jus was lovely (18/20). I also tasted a strawberry dessert that had raspberries but also, more strangely, artichoke ice cream with meringue, sorrel, vanilla and artichoke crisps.
Service was well meaning but did involve some lapses in concentration. Two different dishes arrived during the meal that were not ones that we ordered, which was no big deal but a little surprising for a restaurant at this level. The bill came to exactly €160 (£141) each with just water to drink. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then an all in cost per person might come to nearer £175. Overall this was a very good meal, the cooking skilful, and the price not excessive for a two star restaurant in a big city.