After a spree to the Rheingau wine region on a beautiful sunday we were looking for a place to have dinner. While we couldn’t come up with any casual restaurant that day, we had the sudden inspiration to go for Patrick Kimpel‘s fine dining restaurant within the Hotel Kronenschlößchen in Hattenheim.
It’s a beautiful place with a hotel looking like a castle and we’ve been driving by so many times saying that we once should have a meal there. I’m not sure why it didn’t happen earlier. I think one reason might be that reactions and press has been mixed in recent years. Only last year the Michelin guide awarded Patrick Kimpel his first star. Many say it’s long overdue.
Black-suited waiters and heavy silverware might make the place appear somewhat formal and traditional, but the beautifully preserved romantic premises with wooden ceilings and painted walls dining rooms and the huge terrasse with a magical garden have a quite unique charm that put one in an eased and cozy mode.
Undoubtedly, one of the restaurants strengths is the huge wine list with a focus on German wines, in particular with Rieslings from the Rheingau of course, and with a stress on aged and matured bottles. But the list also contains many great bottles from France and even further-away places. For sure one of Germany’s best sorted wine lists.
We opted for the 6-course menu for 105 Euro, accompanied by the restaurant’s chosen wine matches.
First Amuse: smoked duck breast on cracker with an acidic cream in between. For the second one, I don’t remember the filling (saucisson and paprika I think), but both were very nice with acidity, crunch and savory flavors, putting your palate in the mood for food!
Second Amuse: Octopus, olives and capers, half-fried veal tartare with potato net. Excellent. Meticulously elaborated with many details and good harmony. A lot of tiny impulses enhancing one’s appetite: salt and acidity of capers, gentle bitterness of olives, acidic fruit of the minuscule tomato bits, cracking texture of the potato threads, the comforting warmth of the veal and the pure taste of the octopus. A 3 star amuse to remember!
Composition of Goose Foie Gras, ark chocolate, yogurt, passion fruit and Raz el Hanout. Great quality, consistency and flavor of the goose liver. Also technically a very well crafted dish with attention to detail. And flavor-wise a harmonious composition with an adventurous oriental touch of Raz el Hanout that works well. Together with yogurt and passion fruit it adds interesting layers while not compromising the big picture. You’d think everything has been made already with Foie Gras and then comes this… plus with a 1999 Gräfenberg Spätlese by Robert Weil which makes for a great match: superb!
Turbot, potato risotto, lovage, black garlic. While not being the most pristine specimen in purity of taste, the Turbot was perfectly well-seared. The potato dices underneath still had some crunch and add structure but I’m not sure why they are described as “risotto”. The intense tomato jus brings along a good acidity, which particularly helped the wine match with a 1987 Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett by Georg Breuer estate. All in all a Mediterranean dish that was nice but didn’t really impress.
The just mentioned wine represents one of the first vintages of the newly created Rheingau Charta initiative, which would be the foundation to the VDP’s single vineyard Terroir philosophy. For the first time a type of Riesling style defining the regions traditional character has been set and adopted by several estates. This wine used to be a sweet Kabinett, but with time became a dry wine, and is still showing interesting mineral character with a robust acidity.
Poached egg yolk on calf’s tail, spinach, mushroom. What a luscious and yummy course, all creamy and rich, the kind of dish you’d eat with a spoon only, with the appeal of a savory dessert. This is actually the luxury version of a typical German childhood dish, spinach with eggs. Here, it’s been beefed up with braised calf tail meat, a mushroom cream and a very pure spinach purée: can it get any richer? I just loved it and it was worth having it as an additional course. The wine pairing, a nearly 15 year old blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris (cuvée Victor) by Schlossgut Diel from the Nahe was a clever pairing, as it also showed very creamy notes; I was surprised by the taste of aged white Pinot.
Deer, Crème Rouennaise, apple brittle crust, braised celery. A dish with a somewhat classic appearance and appeal. Especially the Sauce Rouennaise, made with Foie Gras and a drop of blood seems quite oldschool, but is rich and tasty and together with the more lively demi-glace it creates a harmonious match with the deer. Some tiny scoops of apple add welcome fruit notes. The meat is well cooked and the hazelnut in the crust adds another layer of flavor. The dish was very rich because of the Foie Gras cream, it was thus very clever not to add any more carbs. Nice.
A rare thing comes next: an actually interesting cheese course. A layer of Fourme d’Ambert, the intense French blue cheese is topped with white chocolate, whipped cream and raspberries. Raspberries add some acditiy, dollops of caramel bring a little sweetness. I like the composition even though the whipped cream nearly makes it too rich and the Fourme overall appears a bit too intense for yielding the right balance.
Main dessert. Almond Gateau with pear gelee, pear sorbet, roasted almonds with Fleur de Sel and brittle. Good flavors but very technical, with a geometric alignment that doesn’t really bring an accurately intentioned flavor blending. I think here it was also getting a bit too classical for me. It was well-tasting, but nowadays I prefer desserts that are a bit more funky, with more freshness and less sweetness.
Now that was an enjoyable dinner, with many of the courses beating my expectations. Then again, this is a place of very classical inspiration, where lightness is sometimes sacrified for more richness with creams and heavy sauces. But I have to say that it was still controlled and at an acceptable level. For example, when there was a rich sauce Rouennaise with the deer it was wise to let out carbs for some veggies. Also, there was a very clear Mediterranean influence in some dishes that balanced out the richer one. I have to think in particular of that awesome octopus and veal starter as well as of the Turbot.
Nevertheless, It feels sometimes as if technical execution and cooking skills are prioritized, reminding the formality of some of the traditional French dining palaces (Le Meurice maybe). Even if all flavor combinations are thought-through and often brilliant, I guess that more potential would be set free if diners wouldn’t have the impression that the kitchen is stuck in conventions. But maybe this is just my personal opinion – in the end it’s a choice to offer such kind of cuisine and I guess there are many people who enjoy this style.
Of course I have to add that service was as satisfying as it can be and I’m very tempted to come back and see how the restaurant develops. If one looks at their website, there are many interesting special events as well, that could particularly attract wine geeks like you and me. Check it out!
Phone: +49 (0) 67 23 640
open daily from 7 to 10 pm
as well as on sundays and public holidays from 12 to 2 pm