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Restaurant Haerlin

There are four different restaurants under Hotel Vier Jahreszeitens elegant roof, but Haerlin has been given the main burden of upholding the hotels reputation for unparalleled excellence. For the most part, it succeeds admirably. The dining room is probably the most beautiful in the city, enveloping diners in the utmost luxury while treating them to a spectacular view of the Alster.

The wine list, which is thicker than the local phone book, is considered one of the top three in Germany. Its architect is a shy young Iranian, Rakhshn Zhouleh, who left his country to pursue his forbidden passion for wine. Mr. Zhouleh's list represents many rare, unusual and even improbable finds, including an Arizona wine. He started us off with champagne, 1990 Dom Perignon, which both the restaurant and the bar pour by the glass. He then proceeded to create a marvelous experience for us, and his sensitive suggestions demonstrated a thorough understanding of chef Michael Hoffman's cuisine.

The food itself was very good, leaving nothing to be desired except that little extra something which elevates the very good to the transcendent. We feasted on a tiny schnitzel of tender lamb filet, salmon prepared five different ways, a lobster-filled potato croquette with a white bean sauce, and a perfect filet of broiled sea bass. Mercifully, dessert was a sparkling terrine of fresh oranges and prune ice cream. Dinner without wine is 100-150 DM ($84), and there is a vegetarian menu for 95 DM ($53) as well as an "Avantgarde" one for 175 DM ($98). The three-course lunch set menu is a particularly good value at 62 DM ($35).

Best of all, the service is beautiful, perfect in every way. We felt very much at home even in such unaccustomed luxury.

High style dinner for two: 298 DM ($166).
Contact: Restaurant Haerlin, Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Neuer Jungfernsteig 9, D-20354 Hamburg, tel. +49/040/3 49 46 41, fax 349 4602.
Rating: Quality 16/20 Value 12/20

Information current as of March 1999; hotel prices updated May 2007