Tuesday 23 September 2014

Live-Blogged Dinner

I have been staying at the four-star Hotel Restaurant Mühle since Sunday afternoon. Thus far I have eaten a supper, a luncheon, a dinner and two breakfasts. This evening I thought I would try to live-blog my dinner. I have never seen this done nor researched this, so in that sense from my perspective this is completely experimental.

Right then, at nearly ten past eight, let's see how this pans out…

Well, I am sitting at table - co-incidently the same as last night - although the waiting staff are not aware of this as it is a completely different set of servers. I cannot say I was exactly welcomed or that despite the fact there are plenty of empty tables, it seemed to be an issue whether or not I could be accommodated - and this despite being a guest of the hotel.

Nonetheless, within four minutes, I have my glass of smooth, blood-red house-wine, my half-litre (liter) of Lieler Scloßbrunnen mineral-water, fresh bread-rolls and local butter plus the menu in front of me.

Now it's time to let my imagination and taste-buds be stimulated and excited:

Well, despite the member of staff who originally greeted me attempting to press me to order, I have been left in peace to savour the menu. I am hoping that a Salat "Gourmandise" followed by Mistkratzerli will make me a happy chappy. I have no idea what the former is, other than a salad, as a google image search gives dozens of totally different dishes. A surprise then! The main appears to be a chicken plate and is to be accompanied by Rösti. Just need someone to take my order now; but personally no hurry, as I can sip my delicious wine…

At 20.38 my order has been taken. The salad is a mixture of salad leaves, melon, tomato and Parmesan. Sounds right up my street. The main is indeed a roast chicken dish. Looking forward to this.

My affable waiter is having to rush hither and thither and has built up quite a sweat on his forehead. The ambient temperature of the dining-room in which I have been seated is just right for me: not too warm with a pleasant cool zephyr whispering through. The waiter is certainly having to work hard for his money. Who said waitering is an easy option: damned hard, physical work!

A Scampi Salat taster arrived with the compliments of the kitchen. Two large, firm prawns on a bed of shredded mixed leaves and a very light, nutty dressing. My Salat "Gourmandise" arrived before the previous plate had been cleared. The original greeter however deftly slipped it to one side and then proffered a huge family-sized salad-bowl of "offering'. As well as the ingredients already stated (excluding the Parmesan), it included sliced white mushroom - quite flavourless - and grated carrot. Some of the salad leaves were obviously past their best having already begun to turn reddy-brown where white should be. The dressing was overly heavy, oily and far too salty. The salad had been so heavily salted that the natural sweetness of the melon was completely swamped. The cherry tomatoes used were soft and squishy. Over all, a disaster. The original waiter has just tried to serve me more; but I have had to politely explain why not, giving constructive criticism. Yikes!

Well, nearly an hour since I sat down and have thus far drunk half a glass of red wine, a few sips of mineral water, the chef's taster (really yummy!) and a few mouthfuls of the salad. Despite trying to avoid wheat bread, I have had to resort to consuming bread & butter. The roll has a fairly tough exterior, so not to be attempted with falsies, but the tug is followed by the satisfactory flavour of lightly salted butter on REAL bread. Mmmmmm……

Slightly stuffed now. So glad I did not gorge on the second bread-roll. My main turned out to be poussin (for which I cannot track down a German equivalent - so if you know it, please let me know!). Again it had been over salted with the effect that the breast meat was, whilst not dry, not exactly moist either. The poussin appears to have been salted prior to cooking, as the underside was just as salty as the topside - presumably to crisp the skin - but obviously this also has the effect of drawing out moisture from the flesh. As one would expect, the thigh flesh was the tastiest. The accompanying Rösti was perfectly acceptable to me, as I have been brought up on raw potato, but I imagine many Brits would have returned it as undercooked, although completely heated through. There was no crispy or crusty outer layer, which one would normally anticipate back in Blighty. However, the added (smoked?) bacon lardons were a mini orgasm on the tongue! Overall, simple cuisine cooked simply. Without boasting: no better than my own efforts chez moi. I personally would have preferred the addition of herbs to add flavour. Waitrose's own brand poussin have much more flavour than the local example I was just served. Perfectly acceptable however: a good dish.

Two minutes ago, my amiable waiter and I lapsed into Italian (!) whilst I ordered Crème brûlée mit Sauerkirschen und Vanilleeis. I am assuming this comes with something like Morello cherries and vanilla ice-cream. Oh, and a wee espresso…

Whilst I await my dessert, a few words about the restaurant’s furnishings. It looks like a typical traditional good quality French/German/Swiss restaurant. It’s beautifully appointed. Anyone familiar with dining in Spain will be pleased to hear that the dining-chairs are quite comfortable. After two hours of sitting, I am not yet feeling uncomfortable. Beautiful bunches of fresh blooms adorn each table. As soon as one is seated a single, white candle is lit - quite elegant. The table linens are top notch and napkins are substantial - so one’s clothing is not in peril! Cutlery is all silver: so for those worried about bugs, you can chill!

A word on accessibility. There is no ramp into the Hotel Restaurant. However there are only three (fairly steep) steps but with hand-rails aplenty. I have managed to enter as I am not currently wheel-chair bound. Were one in a chair, one would have to visit elsewhere. Furthermore, the WC’s are in the basement and there is no disabled facility on the ground level.

Definitely worth waiting for, dessert was smashing. The crème brûlée was better than fair. A minor criticism would have been for all or most of the sugar to have been crystallised rather than just the centre - but that is being picky. It was accompanied by warmed, sour cherries (probably not Morello as they were red rather than purple) which was an inspired contrast with the sweetness of the custard. The vanilla ice-cream was a temperature contrast, but did not really add to the dish flavour-wise. Perhaps a more interesting flavour might have been to choose espresso - to add bitterness to the palate - or caramel to bring the other tastes together.

My espresso is spot-on, not too strong for this time of the evening, but nevertheless still providing the caffeine-kick some of us enjoy at the end of a good repast.

My friendly waiter is no longer perspiring and the original waiter has been smiling for the last hour. Stress has passed.

To give a more rounded view of the restaurant I am now going to list my facebook updates from the past few days in relation to previous meals.

Sunday supper:

Hotel restaurant due to close at 21.30. We turn up at 20.45 and were eventually greeted by sullen maître d' who swiftly advised us that there was very little time. As Rico wanted nothing but a glass of wine and I a salad or a soup, we could not see why there could be any issue. Thankfully I was served the most perfect Kürbiscremesuppe, which had I known what it was probably would not have ordered it and would thus have missed a treat. It was cream of pumpkin soup. Rico & I both adored the lighter than light white wine which almost evaporated on the tongue. Fantastic! Slightly over salted for my personal tastes, so 9.5/10. %P 

Monday breakfast:

About to go exploring Binzen after a hearty breakie of:
fresh orange juice
1.5 pots of coffee
muesli with full-fat milk (sole choice, no plain yoghourt)
scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on toast
a Semmel roll with butter & honey
a raspberry yoghourt


Monday evening dinner:

Service this evening came with the winsome smile of a stunningly beautiful local lass. My Trilogy of Goose-liver Delights was orgasmic (tho' a shame someone microwaved the Brioche bun that came with it so badly that it was still frozen on the inside!). My main was pork medallions which I quite literally broke up with a fork, the flesh was that tender. Delicious cuisine! So happy!!! %PPP
Rico dined on the cream of pumpkin soup, having tasted and enjoyed mine from the previous evening. He followed this with fresh ravioli stuffed with truffle. Mmmmm-mmmm!

Hotel Restaurant Mühle is definitely worth a try if one happens to be passing through the district of Lörrach. Binzen itself is quite pretty and the folk are friendly - most will greet you in passing on the street or on entering a shop (store).

Postscript: the bill has just arrived and I am informed they are not charging me for the salad. Bless them! %)

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