Saturday, January 12, 2013

Restaurant Review: Hotel Excelsior Hanse Stube Restaurant (Cologne, Germany)

We continued our whirlwind trip from Munich to Cologne in a record 5 hours, and the only thing we could think of was dinner. It was fairly late, so in the car, frantically looking for a decent place that was open that late, we decided that a restaurant called "Hanse Stube" sounded alright. We threw our luggage at our hotel (more about that on a different post) and just rolled up to the Excelsior Hotel Ernst in Cologne in our jeans and shirts after the 5 hour drive up. Whatever, meh, we were HONGRY and TIRED so let's just knock down some food.

After entering, meandering through the posh doormen and concierge, piano bar and exquisitely decorated hotel filled with mirrors, tasteful floral arrangements, we realized we weren't in Kansas any more. What a shock to enter the restaurant and have full-service wait staff and and 95% of the entire restaurant's customer base over the age of 50+ fully dressed to the nines and having cultured, quiet talks about business and 401Ks and what vintage of wine has the subtle scent of blackberries or whatevs. Whoops.

Can I just say that the waitstaff did not bat an eye at our appearance. In an environment where it would have been perfectly acceptable for snooty waiters to look down on you if you're wearing your Zara low-cut t-shirt with stars strewn all over it and a pair of jeggings, the waitstaff at Hanse Stube were 100% professional and courteous to us as if we were in black tie attire. I cannot gush enough about the friendliness and courtesy of the staff. Incredible. THAT in my opinion is true class and professionalism.

After perusing through an extensive and gorgeous dinner menu and wine list, we decided on the following:


I plumped for the foie gras terrine on dried fruit jam with pointed cabbage and brioche. Melted on my mouth and I wanted summore but it was only the apps so I restrained myself. At 29, I'm sure the boy was relieved ^_~


I forgot what the boy's starter was and it's no longer on their menu but I'm guessing it was either a beef tartare or perhaps the pâté of boar on sour cherry chutney with celery salad and argan oil. Whichever it was, I did not particularly enjoy. 24(?)


I believe this was a the lobster bisque but it must have been a seasonal winter item because it's no longer on the menu. Those black bits on the side of the plate were black lava salt, or Kala Namak. You could drop them into the soup and they would melt slowly into a weird black melty spot on your soup. The salty flavor was INTENSE. I had a bit TOO much fun with that. Don't know the price for this one but ranged probably from 14-21.


They gave us a lovely lemon(?) sorbet as our palate cleanser. Light and tangy.


I had the tenderloin of US beef on truffled black salsify vegetables, roused mini mushrooms, and red wine-shallots doughnuts. I don't even know what red wine-shallot doughnuts were but they were freaking delicious. The meat was cooked to perfection. For 38 I certainly hope so.


Poached turbot with langoustine ratatouille and red Carmague rice. Hmm. Not worth the 39. 


For dessert, since I was stuffed to the brim, I needed a light sorbet to aid my digestion (I just wanted to order sorbet heehee). I had the grapefruit and pomegranate homemade sorbets that aren't offered on the menu but if you ask, they'll bring you out a huge selection to choose from. 


Then THIS came out. Complimentary macarons, truffles, and brioche stuff with the coffee. The truffles are all handmade at the restaurant and the waiter insisted that we pick as many as we wanted. I got egg nog(!), lemon, tangerine(?)... oh my I don't remember but there were at least 25 different flavors. 


My cappuccino at the end of the meal. 

We also had wine, but I'm not a big wine drinker unless it's in the range of my beloved Moscato. They did offer a very sweet wine as another option which was okay but again, wine just isn't my thing. The boy got some of his own and had most of mine and got quite tipsy. This usually happens because I never drink alcohol with dinner. They also gave us complimentary champagne, and I had a Hugo (Prosecco/champagne with elderberry flower syrup, lime, and mint leaves) at the beginning but as it was also too bitter for my tastes, gave it to the boy. I would estimate I drink maybe a sip of everything and give the rest to my dining partners. It makes for a very interesting evening. 

All in all, what a fabulous dining experience. I can't rave about it enough. Not everything on the menu was spot on, but the modern interpretation of German haute cuisine, the attention to detail, from the thick damask linen tablecloths and napkins to the beautiful birds of paradise flowers located throughout the restaurant, and the level of courtesy and professionalism of the staff really impressed me. Pricey but worth it! Check it out:

Reservations in advance are recommended: +49 (0) 221- 2701


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