The dining room is small and feels very old school formal. Tall silver candlesticks flicker over the white marble fireplace, and the rich silk curtains and paneled walls shut out the rest of the world. We got off to a predictable start with solemn little canapés and the now required spoonfuls of chopped raw tuna tartare and tiny nibbles of cured salmon prepared three ways.
The first call to attention was the rosy slice of veal raised right here at the Bareiss' Morlokhof farm. It was draped over a square of tomato and olive-studded polenta with a creamy chive sauce. Next was an oddly pink Breton lobster, probably marinated and served cold on avocado-basil puree with a second cantaloupe sauce. I couldn't decide if this combo was successful, but the marriage with a Baden 2003 Myophorium was brilliant. Mr. Fendt, the sommelier, was a wonderful guide to the local wines, explaining that the area was full of sea fossils and that this particular wine had spent a year and a half in oak grown not 200 yards from the vineyards. The long barreling had created a marvelous creamy complexity that did not overwhelm the fruit.
The kitchen then sent out a blandly classic Continental fine-dining staple, cod in creamy mustard champagne sauce, garnished with clams and diced zucchini. Mr. Fendt stopped by to pour a 2002 Zie Reisen, a light-bodied red with a lot of tobacco and leather and a bit too much wood. This time, the wine took backstage to the main course, two beautifully cooked red venison medallions with tiny chanterelles and a mini pastry stuffed with diced organ meat. This was exactly the kind of only-in-the-Black-Forest dish we were hoping to find, and we appreciated the effort to use special local products.
The cheese cart featured a good-quality selection of mainly French cheeses served with lovely jams and gingered pears. Then we were nearly killed with an onslaught of gorgeous desserts: a frozen snowball of banana ice covered in coconut with pineapple sauce, a strawberry meringue tart with chopped pistachio, a vanilla custard cream with more strawberries, Rote Grütze (red berry pudding), and a fabulous minimalist Black Forest Napoleon made of home-canned cherries on a thin cookie with whipped cream, kirsch, and a curl of chocolate. Then they were evil enough to bring around a jeweled cart of mignardises, the lovely cookies, candies, and cakes that provide one last temptation with coffee.
Mr. Fendt sends us one last treat, his own 2003 dessert wine from his Mosel vineyard. He makes one wine a year, and given the heat wave in 2003, he had decided to turn it into a crisp, firm, yet sweet delight. What I couldn't figure out is how people around here eat like this and still fit into those lovely slim-waisted dirndl dresses. When I asked our friendly waitress why only the female staff wear traditional uniforms, she glanced around carefully before answering, "Actually, I don't think you'd want to see the manager in lederhosen!" —by Lydia Itoi
Menu Prices: Appetizers €36-56, soups €22, fish and meat courses €42-52, six- course tasting menu €106 per person, seven-course menu €128 per person
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 12/20