This restaurant has a truly stunning setting in a Black Forest valley, with rooms in the associated hotel Tonbach (we stayed in the impressive room 500 on our first trip here) and the restaurant both looking out over dense woods. The nearest major airport is Stuttgart, but this is still a fairly long drive away. Chef Harald Wolfhart initially trained with Alain Chapel in France, taking as head chef of Schwarzwaldstube from Wolfgang Staudenmeier in 1980. He built up the restaurant into the most acclaimed in Germany (it gets booked up a year ahead), and though I am not convinced it is the best restaurant in Germany based on my two visits here there is certainly something magical about this place. Service is perfect, which just about all the 3 stars in Germany seem to feature. An amuse-bouche of red pepper soup, shrimp tempura and diced vegetables was pleasantly spicy (18/20) while a duck mousse, cannelloni of duck, a “ham” of duck and duck terrine on beetroot were all very good (18/20).
The first course was marinated crab topped with a lattice of crème fraiche, with three pieces of smoked crab on top, served with white and green asparagus in a lime vinaigrette (19/20). I had terrine of pigeon with goose liver, rich and silky served with toasted brioche and a few baby root vegetables in a citrus dressing (19/20). Two scallops and a pair of langoustines were very well timed, served in a crayfish bisque with white and green asparagus (19/20). Lemon sole was pan-fried with butter and lemon, served with a few chanterelles and delicate baby broccoli (18/20).
Monkfish was covered in peppercorns and served with an aubergine puree and a rich cream sauce (17/20). Venison was tender and served pink, offered with red cabbage and a smear of cooking juices (17/20). The two desserts were of varying quality. Chocolate soufflé was well cooked and served with cherries in sherry, marzipan pancake, sour cream ice cream and a few cherries stuffed with hazelnuts (18/20). Less successful were insufficiently ripe peaches poached and glazed with peach and rosemary sorbet with a few wild strawberries and a pine nut tuile (14/20). Coffee was very high quality, with some fine petit fours: tuiles, lemon tart, strawberry tart, raspberry tart, truffles (18/20).
Overall, this meal was perhaps a strong 18/20 or weak 19/20, but with perfect service and a beautiful setting. Perhaps this the least good of the four German places we tried in June 2002 (a second visit was in July 2003, with a similar level of cooking), and yet this would still be above several 3 star restaurants in some countries. At the hotel, Room 163 is less good than 500, but as it is at one end of the hotel there is a good view. The menu was somewhat limited in choice, and if you do not eat meat you only have one or two choices at each stage.