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Residenz Heinz Winkler

Aschau Im Chiengau, (50 miles east of Munich), Aschau Im Chiengau, Germany

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Chef interview

Heinz Winkler is the chef and owner of Residenz Heinz Winkler, at the base of the Alps not far from Munich. He was the youngest chef ever to be awarded three Michelin stars in 1982 at the age of 32.

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The Residenz Heinz Winkler is situated in the little village of Aschau Im Chiemgau (it may be listed as Chiemgau if you are looking it up on a satellite navigation system) at the base of the Alps. It is a pretty Bavarian village with a population of just over 5,000, about a one-hour drive from Munich. On the far side of the Kampenwand mountains that loom over the village is Austria, and a cable car leads up the mountains from the base of the hills. The Residenz has 32 rooms as well as the restaurant, and has a pretty roof terrace looking out over the mountains. If you are staying here and have a little time, then it is not far (11km) to Herrenchiemsee Palace, a spectacular building constructed by King Ludwig of Bavaria and modelled on Versailles; this is well worth a visit (it is on an island reached by ferry from the town of Prien).

The current head chef, working for Heinz Winkler, is Steffen Mezger. He worked at Altes Amthaus in Ailringen, then became sous chef of Wald and Schloss Hotel Friedrichsruhe. He was chef de cuisine at the Garden restaurant of the Bayerischer Hof in Munich and was promoted to head chef of both the hotel's restaurants in 2009. He moved to Heinz Winkler in May 2014.

The weighty wine list, with 700 labels and 10,000 bottles, started at €39 and ranged up to €5,600 for Petrus 1982. Wines included Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner Kabinett Trocken Weingut Horst Sauer 2011 at €51 for a wine that you can find on the high street for €11, Kaseler Nies'chen Riesling Grosse Gewachs 2010 from Reichsgraf von Kesselstat 2010 at a chunky €95 for a wine that you can find in a shop for €20, and Alion 2007 at €185 for a wine that retails at about €63. At the more rarified end of the list, Coche-Dury Les Rougeot 2006 was a bargain €419 compared to a current shop price of €544, and Opus One 1991 was €495 for a wine that will set you back €326 in a shop. There are set menus at €155 (£125) and €178 (£144) as well as the a la carte, which is the route that we took. Starters were €12 to €45, main courses €39 to €49 desserts €18 - €24.

We had two meals here on successive nights. These were on unseasonably hot early June evenings and we ate on the terrace. Tables were large and well spaced, covered with fine white linen tablecloths and generous napkins. The meal began with an amuse-bouche of cold tomato soup flavoured with coconut. This was very good and accurately seasoned, with plenty of tomato flavour, the coconut not too strong (18/20). Bread is bought in from a local baker and prepared to order. Ciabatta, sunflower bread, olive bread and potato were all very pleasant, the best being the olive bread (average 17/20).

A trio of nibbles appeared next. Herring with beetroot was excellent, but even better was tartare of mackerel with radish, and superb deep fried vegetables with curry and paprika, the croquette remarkably light, the spicing lovely (average 19/20). Pea soup with cream had superb, deep flavour, the peas from France and having gorgeous depth of taste, the seasoning precise (19/20).  Even better was a scallop carpaccio marinated in sour cream and served with a central potato topped with oscietra caviar, the dish garnished with specks of bell pepper skin. The scallops were stunning, sweet and silky in texture, the combination with the potato and caviar working beautifully (20/20).

Courgette flower was fried in a beer batter and stuffed with diced courgettes with intense Madeira sauce. This was a lovely dish, the textural contrast excellent, the flavour of the courgette superb (19/20). The dish of the night was white asparagus with port reduction and a champagne sauce. I have literally never eaten better asparagus than this, this texture and flavour dazzling, the combination of superb sauces remarkable. Many years ago I had a superb white asparagus dish at Aubergine in Munich when it had three Michelin stars, and this was probably better (20/20).    

Sole with gratin of Parmesan and a herb emulsion and wild garlic was served with two different carrot purees, one classical, the other a purple carrot. The fish was lovely, the carrots superb (19/20).  Even better was venison with a "purple curry", the meat topped with hibiscus and breadcrumbs and lightly spiced, served with a trio of vegetables: celeriac puree, red cabbage and green cabbage with bacon. The cabbage was magnificent, the celeriac puree as light as air, the venison gorgeous (20/20).

For dessert, rhubarb cake was essentially a soufflé pancake in texture, served with strawberries, rhubarb sorbet, raspberries and sour cream (18/20). Crepe Suzette was filled with Grand Marnier cream with a reduction of orange juice and spices including cardamom and anise. This was a lovely, classical dessert (19/20).  Coffee was nicely roasted, rich and not bitter, served with a plate of petit fours. Blackcurrant jelly, cigar filled with lime cream, a rather ordinary strawberry macaroon, raspberry praline, peach chocolate and a spiced mango and white chocolate sphere, and blackcurrant jelly. The bill, with a bottle of nice Riesling between us, came to €182 (£147) per head, a bargain for food of this quality.

On the second night the meal began with a different trio of nibbles. Ragout of local mushrooms was served with lotus root crisp, alongside scallop marinated with yuzu, and a fried praline of aubergine (19/20 average). An amuse bouche of cold watermelon soup had plenty of flavour, but was hard to excited about (16/20).

Wild Alaskan salmon came with white tomato jelly and was topped with flecks of French goats cheese and garnished with salad leaves; the salmon had nice flavour (18/20). Better was a pair of scallops, beautifully sweet, served with a caper and raisin sauce, the capers providing the ideal balance to the shellfish (20/20). The meal really got into top gear with the next course. Gnocchi with chive beurre blanc was superbly light, the sauce beautifully balanced (19/20). Bresse pigeon was served with fried duck liver, violet mustard, peppery rocket salad and almonds (19/20).

For main course, lobster with black noodles, with flecks of celery and saffron sauce was superb, the French lobster beautifully tender, the noodles coloured with squid ink and remarkably delicate, the sauce glorious and avoiding that strong metallic note that saffron can easily bring if not carefully judged (20/20). Langoustines came with quinoa, a light curry sauce subtly flavoured with ginger and were impeccably cooked, the quinoa providing textural balance (20/20).

A trio of desserts followed. Marble soufflé was made with chocolate and vanilla and had very good texture, rather like a marble sponge cake, served with rum cream and cherries (18/20). Cherry variations featured dark chocolate, cherries filled with white chocolate, panna cotta, cassis ice cream and ragout of cherries (18/20). Warm chocolate "tears" were actually fried beer dough with a liquid chocolate centre, served with passion fruit and mango (18/20),

Coffee and petit fours were the same as the previous night. Service was again superb, the topping up faultless, the staff friendly and efficient. The bill on the second night came to €191 (£154) a head, including an excellent Kunstler dry Riesling Auslese 2004 and pre-dinner drinks. If you ordered three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill might come to £110 a head or so.

Over the two nights Heinz Winkler delivered a pair of superb meals, clearly in three star territory overall. There was a pattern: the amuse-bouche soups, bread and desserts were good two star level, but the savoury dishes were very strong three star quality. Michelin's deduction of a star a few years ago may or not have been justified, but right now there were so many superb three star savoury dishes here that its current standing seems very harsh, especially given the variable level of cooking of so many of Michelin's recent promotions. Michelin's issues represent an opportunity for you as a diner, as you can come here and experience some truly top class dishes in a gorgeous natural setting for a relatively bargain price, all less than one hour from Munich airport.

Further reviews: 01st Sep 2003

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  • JJ STIVES

    As a long time fan of Winkler, I remain baffled by Michelin's disregard for the quality and consistency of the cuisine he has offered for nearly forty years. Your comment about Michelin's rather generous allowances to other chefs of far less merit agrees with mine and I tire of finding "new" and "cute" properties with a sparkling new star that is unjustified and perhaps reflects political elements in this star game. In any case, Winkler will never disappoint and still sits at or near the top of German chefs in my book.

  • Scotty

    Gidday Andy Another great review. Again the food shines but wines as in most cases at restaurants are over priced. When I was in the trade I had a couple of restaurants that would charge a flat dollar value on their wine (we are not talking here establishments in this league by any means) lets say $7.00 and they would continually sell cases. They worked it out at the time it covered broken glass etc. and patrons were very happy. Why do outlets place such a high mark up when people these days are aware of wine prices even if it represents a 1-2-3 Star establishment? Cheers Scotty Canberra Australia

  • Marcelo Leça

    I totally agree with you. This restaurant clearly deserves 3 Michelin Stars .