7 St. John Street
Date of Last Visit: Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Victims: Many.
The Damage: Unknown.
The Background: Way back in December, the lovely and social-media savvy Caitlin from Vinoteca invited me to pop by on the evening of February 12th for an evening of German food and wine, their first in what will become a series of themed dinner evenings.
You can–if you've been reading my blog for awhile–imagine my glee: Vinoteca? German food? (Don't laugh. It is very much underappreciated!) German wine? (Again, totally underappreciated.) I'm in.
And so it was just a few months later that this particular London restaurant blogger found myself being shown downstairs to the very lovely private dining room at Vinoteca, which I would imagine would be the most perfect place for me to celebrate the 5th anniversary of my, um, blog's birthday. The room comes with its own separate kitchen and chef and is far away from the bustle of the upstairs space.
The Menu: The menu, slightly blurry as it is, is in the first photo. I had no idea what to expect, but a five course menu was not it! I'm in for a treat, and it starts immediately with the Laugenbrötchen and Bärlauchbutter. The bread is so good–it's like pretzel bread–that Caitlin kindly wraps up two rolls for me at the end of the meal and I stuff them in my purse for breakfast the next morning. In between courses, some of the guests very seriously suggest that Vinoteca adds the bread to their upstairs menu. I would second that suggestion. Heartily!
The Soup: The soup is a rich consommé. Maultaschen are like ravioli, and these are great. If this is only the beginning of the meal, we're in for a treat. Our chef, Jürgen Birks, patiently walks us through each item on the menu, auf Deutsch, ably translated by Thomas, one of the dinner guests. Lucky for me, I didn't need the translation. Which caused some odd moments when I would laugh out loud or clap at something Herr Birks said, while everyone else was patiently waiting for the English version.
Wines: 2007 Weisser Burgunder Kabinett Trocken, Bercher (Baden). And 2006 QBA St Veit Trocken, Hans Wircher (Franken).
The Starter: Our starter is red mullet with savoy cabbage cream and Schupfnudeln. But you know, it's much more like a main. This is my favorite dish of the night, both for the dish and the story behind Schupfnudeln that has us all rolling. (Try Googling it.) The Wines? 2006 Sylvaner Trocken, Villa Wolf (Pfalz) and 2007 Riesling Castle Label, Schloss Vollrads (Rheingau).
The Main: Sauerbraten with Spätzle and apple red cabbage. As soon as I saw Spätzle on the menu, I got excited. Käsespätzle is one of my all time favorite dishes. (Basically, macaroni and cheese. But better.) The Sauerbraten has been marinated for a ridiculously long amount of time and you can tell, from looking at the meat up close, that there is nothing but good love to be found in this food. This portion, however, is so generous that eat only half in order to save room for the Nachtisch (dessert). 2005 Spätburgunder, Q Sonnett, Heger (Baden).
Dessert: I wasn't sure what to expect with this dish, and it blew me away. The dessert of Walnut Parfait with a Hot Rose Hip Sauce was inventive, interesting, and different. Especially in comparison to the very traditional Sauerbraten and Spätzle we had just finished. The Walnut Parfait was deliciously creamy, like ice cream, but not ice-cold like ice cream. Really, this was great. Accompanied by 2001 Riesling Auslese Birkweiler Kastanienbusch, Hansjorg Rebholz (Pfalz).
Cheese: Monk's Head Cheese with Quince and Pepper Relish. Honestly, by this point, I've had so much food and I HAVEN'T EVEN REALLY MENTIONED THE WINES that I'm a bit cross-eyed. The cheese was good. But I didn't do it much justice. I was still thinking about that walnut parfait. Served with 2007 Spätburgunder Auslese, Schloss Affaltrach (Württemberg).
The Verdict: This was really one of the most lovely meals I've ever had. Many thanks to Vinoteca for inviting me to such a wonderful evening and giving me the chance to blog the whole thing. My one regret is not asking for the WLAN key so I could Twitter the whole meal! Not much of a connection in the private dining room, unfortunately.