When choosing a place to go for dinner, what factors influence your decision? Are you all about the food, having something quick and cheap to fill a gap? Wanting to try something you haven’t tried before and something you wouldn’t normally eat at home? Or is it about the full dining experience- being waited on, enjoying good food in a relaxed atmosphere and feeling special for a night?
For me it is all of the above factors, yes sometimes I just want a quick bite on the go, so I expect no thrills.. but when I go out for an occasion I expect a well-rounded experience. Yes, I may have become a slight “food snob” but I am proud of it. It means I care about what I am eating and want to fuel myself correctly. I like to know what I am eating, where it comes from and that what I am going to eat I will enjoy. (And if not, yes I will have the guts to say it…). I am happy to pay a bit more for the overall atmosphere and experience, and where I went last week did not disappoint.
So last week I was in Hamburg, a city I have never been to before, so I had no idea of where to look for food and what would be good to try. And as someone who doesn’t like to make decisions I know I can be a nightmare to go out with! My answer to everything is “you choose”, but honestly I think it is because I am happy to try anything (veggie of course) - in fact the more unusual the more likely I am to try it! Food options are normally the easiest decisions for me to make. I think it is the meat eaters who have too much choice on a menu who are the problem!
The place we found in the end was slightly out of the centre of Hamburg in Ottensens, “Kleine Brunnenstrasse”. A cosy and relaxed, fine dining atmosphere which offered seasonal cuisine. The whole experience I could not fault, right from the offset we were treated like their most important guests. Every little touch adding to my final impression. We were guided to our seats, introduced to our waiter and upon being seated we were handed the menu’s. (The waiter had picked up I was English so without giving it a thought, handed us both a German and English one..avoiding any awkwardness for me). We were then advised on recommendations and combinations, and then left alone to take it all in.
It may seem like a simple touch but still it was a nice touch, especially as nowadays when you go out to a restaurant, staff always seem too busy rushing around, taking away from the time they spend on you. The balance between being attentive, over attentive or under attentive is hard to achieve. Something mid- price restaurants can easily get wrong, they are stuck in knowing what service they should be offering for the price you are paying. Furthermore, it is not often you have a waiter who actually knows and understands the menu. Normally you have some young, inexperienced individual running to and from the kitchen speaking with the chef or management to achieve an answer...but for this place, so far so good! (I was being kept quiet tonight, no food moans.. instead left to enjoy the good food).
This place does not hold many people, so dining is quite intimate. It was fully booked for the evening, so we were lucky to be squeezed in, and I am glad we were. The menu had two vegetarian options, or the third option “let us surprise you” a choice of courses picked by them with their wine accompaniments. Unfortunately as much as it made me giggle I wasn’t feeling that brave!
I chose the Lemon Polenta dish. Fine dining presentation with colours, smells and textures to make your mouth water… I obviously had to take a few pictures too! My polenta was served with buffalo mozzarella, fried broccoli, basil and pine nuts. I kind of felt lucky I had visited Hamburg last week, as the menu changes on a weekly basis with the current seasonal foods available, so it may be a while until it reaches the menu again! The second dish ordered was slices of rare beef served with a rosemary and lemon butter accompanied with rocket salad and vegetables. Not for me as it was meat, but it looked equally divine. The meat tender, cooked to perfection and well balanced.
After I got my food shots, we were ready to dig in, enjoy our wine and catch up! Although the plate may have looked lacking with its gourmet presentation, it was just how I like it. It left me feeling satisfied, not stuffed. Obviously I had room to squeeze in a bite of dessert too.. one to share of course- A hazelnut biscuit with espresso, washed down with a shot of hazelnut spirit from Lake Constance.
I very much enjoyed my evening; great company, attentive staff and a relaxed atmosphere so I could unwind and enjoy good honest food and drink. I would highly recommend this place, as long as you don’t mind a bit of intimacy (you would not have guessed it was a business dinner!) ..tables are close together to allow as many people as possible to sample a bit of their greatness. I’d suggest you book in advance as it gets busy, and if like me you do not like making decisions – be brave! Go for the “surprise” menu.. the menu is constantly changing to suit the seasons so why not go with their recommendations.. although I am sure anything you sample you will love.
Thanks “Kleine Brunnenstrasse” for a great evening.