Victor’s Gourmet-restaurant Schloss Berg

Victor’s Gourmet-restaurant Schloss Berg

Schlossstrasse 27-29

66706 Perl-Nennig


Telephone: +49 6866 79 118

Overall rating: 8.5/10

Date of visit: September 2013


Victor’s Gourmet-Restaurant is part of a hotel/casino area very close to the border to Luxembourg (Luxembourg City is merely 25 kilometres away). The chef is Christian Bau who previously worked at Schwarzwaldstube, which is the German three-star restaurant that has held its stars the longest, and he has held three stars in the Michelin guide since 2005.

There’s also a small renaissance garden behind the building.

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I’m sorry about the pictures this time. There’s an explanation for this in the segment about the service.

The restaurant offered two different menus, one a long tasting menu priced at €205, and one called carte blanche where you could choose either three, four or five courses. This is the one we chose (five courses for €163), and it was presented as a surprise menu. The waiter said that he didn’t even know what would be served. There was a list of main ingredients, and then we could say which ones we didn’t like, and then we also asked for some main ingredients to be included. On the restaurant’s website, there’s an a la carte menu, which we weren’t presented with in the restaurant, and some of the dishes we had seemed very similar to those on either the a la carte menu or the long tasting menu. So, it probably wasn’t much of a surprise after all. The other tables around us mostly had the same dishes we did.

Anyway, shortly after we had been seated the first appetisers arrived: A beetroot macaroon with a filling of smoked eel and foie gras (avocado for my then-wife as she doesn’t like foie gras), and a crispy cracker with crab meat and apple. On the side was a small cornet with smoked fish and beef tartar on top. I think the cornet is a stable of the appetisers here as I had seen it described in a book from 2009, although that one was served with caviar on top (overall 7.5-8/10).

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Vegetable strips were served with sesame oil, small gold prawns, and frozen coriander balls (7/10).

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Bread was served at this time. I don’t pay so much attention to bread in restaurants, but how could I not notice this bread? One regular bread was very fresh and had a lovely crust. The other one was spelt and was very similar to the rye bread you see in Denmark. That bread was nothing short of spectacular. Extremely fresh and juicy and full of flavour.

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The next appetiser was mackerel prepared various ways and came with crisps, quinoa, mushrooms and Asian limes (7.5/10).

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A pea soup with mint foam on top, boiled and halved peas, and small raviolis stuffed with spinach was simple but incredibly lovely (9/10).

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The first course in the actual menu was raw hamachi, algae crumble, radishes, and yoghurt and bergamot ice cream. As I’ve said before, I practically never choose raw fish/meat a la carte, and therefore I would also have preferred another dish than this. Nevertheless, I could tell that the fish was of terrific quality and incredibly tender. But I preferred some of the accompaniments to the main ingredient. Someone who loves dishes like this would probably score this much higher (6.5/10).

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Blue lobster was served with macadamia nuts, carrot cream with ginger, carrot slices with a carrot and cumin cream inside, a few slices of beetroot, soy beans, a small parcel with lobster meat (probably from the claws), and two sauces – one a passion fruit and miso sauce, the other a langoustine and crayfish sauce. This was a study in perfection. The lobsters I’ve had before have either had flavour but been a bit chewy, or they have been tender but had no flavour. It was as if Poseidon had asked us: “Which one do you want? You can only choose one, not both at the same time”. Victor’s Gourmet-restaurant must have bribed him with a particularly beautiful mermaid this night, because this was both incredibly tender and still full of flavour. This was easily the best lobster I’ve ever had. Not to speak of the combinations! Even the soy beans were full of flavour. A slice of heaven and Poseidon’s biggest treasure at the same time (10/10).

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This was followed by the weakest dish all night: Overcooked halibut that luckily wasn’t as dry as the one we had at Hof van Cleve a few days later, with a thin slice of cauliflower on top, quinoa with grilled cauliflower on top, and a sauce of white wine and chives. The sauce was pleasant, as was the quinoa, but far from spectacular. There was nothing wrong with the cauliflower but it was simply bland. This dish could simply have been a lot more creative (5-6/10).

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Beef was cooked two ways – the back and the short rib. The back was cooked medium rare, whereas the small pieces of short rib had been cooked for a very long time. It was served with burnt pearl onions, crispy potato spheres, artichokes, a few rocket leaves, an aubergine purée with red peppers and tomato, and a braising sauce. Aubergine is something I have often found underwhelming, and I can honestly say that this might have been the best aubergine I’ve ever had. The onions were lovely, and the meat spectacular. Honestly, beef is something I’ve had so often that it doesn’t easily amaze me anymore. So this dish was truly spectacular in both its depth of flavour, it’s composition and its products. My then-wife had asked for hers to be well-done, which it was (this actually doesn’t happen as often in top restaurants as you might think) (9/10 or 10/10).

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Then we had a pre-dessert, which was chopped peach covered in a foamy soup of elderflower with a peach sorbet on top and a peach crisp. As such, this was pretty harmless. Both types of peach was a bit watery (6/10).

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The dessert was a bar of Valrhona chocolate mousse with a few peanuts on top, mango, caramel, a few pop corn, and a pop corn ice cream. This dish was pleasant and beautifully presented but not spectacular. I suppose it was more creative than the “Nutella” dessert I had at Sangonereta but it lacked the intensity of that dessert, or the intensity of the chocolate donut at Ca ‘Sento. Maybe that’s just a personal preference, but when you make a chocolate dessert I feel it should be a jackhammer hitting you in the face/taste buds with chocolate flavour (7/10).

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Petit fours were better: Raspberry cheese cake, chocolate and black sesame macaroon, a lemon tart, apricot jelly/wine gum with great depth of flavour, two chocolate ganaches, and a piece of chocolate with strawberry and Tonka beans (7.5-8/10).

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As you can see, there were a couple of stunning highlights here, but also a few dips. This is what can be expected, but my enthusiasm for this restaurant really fluctuated a lot throughout the meal. After the lobster course I was considering asking for another table a few days later and then trying the long tasting menu. After the fish course I was considering ending the meal right there. Nevertheless, for the food itself all in all it was a very positive meal. When we had had just a few appetisers we already felt the food here was better and more flavourful than at Vendome the night before.

The pace of the meal was not as good as it could have been. The appetisers, which had most likely been prepared in advance, came quickly and in a steady flow, but there was too much waiting between the five actual courses, except for the dessert. I can see from when the pictures were taken that the lobster was served 37 minutes after the previous course, the fish was served 32 minutes after the previous course, the beef was served 41 minutes after the previous course, and the pre-dessert was served 18 minutes after the previous course. When I looked at my pictures from Sant Pau, the dishes were all served 8-10 minutes after each other. It’s a bit sad and paradoxical that in one of the best restaurants in a country that is widely known for its efficiency there was more waiting than in all the top restaurants in a country that is known for its lack of efficiency (Spain). This was not a major issue though, but it was still big enough to notice.

The fish course was served while my then-wife was in the toilet. Fish of course has to be served right when it’s done, but I would nevertheless think that this could have been timed better. This also happened with the lobster course at one of our neighbouring tables.

The service was polite, attentive and professional. One small thing I for instance noticed was that one waiter put cutlery on the table, and then shortly afterwards another waiter came up and swapped knife and fork around for me, as he had noticed that I’m left-handed (and from then on they set the table for me as a left-handed).

Nevertheless, we never really felt comfortable or welcome here. My companions at Daniel in New York were a bit nervous (first time in a posh restaurant), so the waiter said that the staff was there to us, not the other way around. At Victor’s at times it did seem like the other way around and like we were intruding. The two waiters and the waitress were polite and friendly but not warm nor humorous, and there were no attempts at making small talk or anything. I suppose this is how we are in Northern Europe, so we can’t ask the impossible of them, but at for instance Noma and AOC, to give just two examples from Northern Europe, the service was a lot more warm and personal.

We both felt that the sommelier, who also seemed to be in charge of the dining room, was too strict. We asked the waitress if we could take pictures of the food, so she had to ask him. He came over and said that we were only allowed to use a smartphone and not a proper camera. As he said: “If one person sits with a small pocket camera, then another person with a big SLR camera would feel he should be allowed to use his camera as well with flashes going off all over the restaurant. There are food bloggers coming here every other night, and some people spend 10-15 minutes on taking one picture. When is it going to be the end of this?”.

I of course understand if they don’t want dinner to turn into the circus it is in some restaurants, but the point is always to make the guests feel welcome – we are after all the reason why this restaurant is in business. In certain other restaurants I’ve been to they have simply asked me not to use flash. That was fair enough. And honestly, the clientele this evening seemed younger and less formal than in certain other places that I’ve been to, and nobody else took any pictures, so this attitude surprised me a bit. We prefer red wines that are smooth and round and not dry. They only had dry ones. The one he served us was quite powerful and dry. So instead of saying something like “this is unfortunately the least dry wine we serve per glass”, the sommelier said something along the lines of: “I can’t open a bottle of wine and just serve you one glass, because then the rest of the wine is going to be bad tomorrow”. This could have been handled more elegantly without making it seem like the customer’s fault. Nevertheless, we were very happy with the white wine he served us.

With a different sommelier we would have been happier here, although there was also an incident with one of the other waiters, where he seemed a bit condescending, although that might simply have been a figment of our imagination.

If the service had been like the day before at Vendome, or even just like the one we had a few days later at Hof Van Cleve, I would have given this restaurant 9/10. Honestly, I actually did feel like marking it down even further, but I thought I would be fair.

Then there’s the price. €163 for this menu + appetisers and petit fours seemed perfectly fair. We didn’t know the wines we were served so it’s difficult to say if they were reasonably priced, although they were definitely more expensive than in certain other three-star restaurants I’ve been to. A glass of white wine (this was from 1995) was €18, and a glass of red wine was €16. Water was €10 for 0,75 litres, and €8-€10 for either 0,75 or 1 litre seems to be the standard in Europe’s three star places. A glass of coke was €3.50, and tea was €7.50, which might not have been cheap, but it was nevertheless half of what we paid in Hof van Cleve a few days later. So, in total this meal came to €212.50 per person.

This restaurant has been the one that has fully made me realise how important the service is for me. Rather neutral than arrogant service. If you compare the food in this meal to for instance the one at Sant Pau, Noma or Quique Dacosta, it’s more or less the same level, or maybe even better. But because we didn’t fully feel comfortable or welcome here I might be less likely to go back here than to those three places.

8 thoughts on “Victor’s Gourmet-restaurant Schloss Berg

  1. Question for you: Do you arrange for the doneness of your fish with the waitstaff at restaurants? I’ve spent many years in the Indian Ocean dealing with widely varied conceptions of doneness of fish (for eg, Japanese, Africans, Indians..etc perceive it so differently) that I always recommend people to set this straight before ordering any dish of fish. I know, ppl always tend to think that there’s a limit not to cross when it comes to doneness of a fish, but at the end of the round it remains a matter of preference and I’d personally discuss about the doneness I want relatively to the type of fish that’s offered if doneness of fish would have been a matter of concern for me (as oddly as this may sound, when I cook my fish I know exactly what I want from it, depending of the dish of course, but when others cook it, I remain opened to whatever doneness they deem ideal because it’s more about me being curious to see how they like preparing it ).
    Regarding your review of VGSB, you did actually score it higher than I thought you would (again, as I wrote before, based on the profile that I have built of you in my mind solely after reading all your previous reviews). So your review, with the highs and lows, came as no surprise for me and I’ll re-iterate that the logical recommendations I have in mind for you would be the likes of Alinea and the Fat Duck, especially Alinea. Or possibly new surprises, like what Japan may offer. Still, I think this was indeed quite a positive meal for you since many aspects of what you have perceived as hiccups (pace of the meal, the welcome) can largely be relativized (I saw no problem with the pace of my meal there, and the welcome was fine just not as overly warm as say, what I have experienced at some restaurants in Italy…which I did expect given that Italians have a different sense of welcoming and humour, etc — you mentioned that Noma, which I visited over 3 years ago, had a better sense of welcome, but I have not experienced anything particularly different at Noma, except that they have foreigners in their kitchen at Noma, so yes, once in a while I was served or did interract with some staff that had a different kind of warmth + when you serve what you cook, you tend to be a bit more verbal/involved I’d guess. That said, at Noma, they were not unwelcoming/not cold, but I did not find the welcome particularly better than at VGSB. Still, I get your point: your experience was different / I was just making the point that it could be relativized. And you are right, at Daniel the welcome is very warm. You mentioned AOC, which I have not visited, but the view I grew up with is that in that part of Europe, Danes and Dutch / So Danemark, Netherlands/ tend to be generally warmer than their peers of the region. I may be completely wrong, but that happened to be also what I have observed while visiting those places ). Also: Isn’t the staff generally younger at VGSB than at Vendome of Hof Van Cleve (never went to vendome and Hof was visited many yrs ago)? Or more International? Lol for the sommelier. I was curious to see how you would have liked him. I did find him actually cool, in his own way, Lol. I guess he is how I have always perceived Germans to be (nothing negative, btw): serious, focused, down to earth, they know where they are going, they do not lose time on big speeches, etc. Perhaps because I just like different personalities/styles. Honestly, nothing bad at all with him, I think. He is just serious, which is fine to me. To each their own. But yep, I can see where you are going with that one, lol…you would have laughed if you were in the room when I asked him how come there were no cheeses? Lol. Nothing bad at all, but his reaction was funny. For the pictures, yeah they also were a bit reserved, which I understand given that many ppl take pics of other ppl and that could embarass other diners. Also, remember: this is quite a conservative area (you mentioned there were young ppl in the room, but I still think that most ppl are reserved/conservative in that area, younger or older, and that they make th ebig majority of the cliente there. Btw being reserved/conservative is not negative in my books. It’s the way they are and I respect that. ) as you have surely noticed it, not that many tourists, etc (at least, that was not the case when I dined there). But I was upfront with them: I never take pics of other diners and I am very discrete (for eg, not starring at the room with my camera when I see that there are ppl, not using a noisy camera, etc) . And you saw what he told you about this matter (ppl flashing their cameras, etc)…you are a well mannered diner (for eg, just by looking at your pics, I can see that you are discrete and do not take pics of other diners/do not disturb others), so I feel bad that you had to pay for the ones who lack discipline, but remember how many other persons are using their meal as a complete light and sound spectacle…how many times did I see ppl taking pics and videos of other diners, playing it loud, flashing the cameras throughout the entire evening… it’s ridiculous. Soon, restaurants will have no choice but to be clear about ppl not taking pics of a full room, pics of other diners, flashing through, etc. This has actually be enforced in the US (for eg, in NYC, many are starting to clearly ask to be respectful/discrete when you use a camera and btw, I was asked not to use a camera at Le Calandre, but I did so when there was nobody around since I knew that I was not disrespectful and I was discrete…I photographed an empty room and my pocket camera had no flash and made no noise.Had people done that, they surely would have never told me to refrain from using my camera.). It’s one thing to be discrete and take the pics of my own meal, which I always do, but many are abusing. Again, not a problem that concerns you but I agree with his comments about the camera, eventhough you are welcomed to disagree. As always, despite our completely different ways of viewing things (for eg, I never score a dish when the ingredient is not one that I like, reference to your dish of raw hamachi, but that is the way you operate and that is to be respected) it is a breeze of fresh air to read you. As for serving your wife’s dish while she was not there, I’d be upfront with them about it. It happened to me even at places that many considered as flawless in terms of service.For the wines, same thing: I always arrange with the sommelier for the type of wines I have in mind (for eg, recently at L’Arpège, the Meursault I wanted was a perfect match to some of my dishes, but I was offered choices that would reach out to a wider part of the meal I was having. But I insisted that I wanted that Meursault because it’s the type of wine I wanted at that moment, then yes of course I left the sommelière adjusting the rest of the dishes with wine pairings that were more suitable to certain of the offers ), though yeah, I read the down to earth comment about not opening a glass if the bottle was not going to be used, etc…which btw seems to be the next new trend in the hospitality world: I won’t name the restaurants but I have experienced with this kind of ‘down to earth’ comments at highly regarded places I’d not expect to hear this, lol. Anyways, not a big deal: perhaps just an evolution of mentalities, a new way to be close to the diner, get the diner to be more sensible to the restaurant’s realities (???), but again, I totally get your point about the matter… I am writing this as if I am fully not affected by that, but I have to agree that I too will need a bit of time to get use to what seems to be the next trend of hospitality. I guess the high end tables have been criticised for so long to have service that’s too formal to the point of being distant that they are now adapting/adjusting to somekind of warmer/down to earth approach. I am sure in 10 yrs we’ll get used to it and laugh about that one, Lol with comments like ‘you hear this…it was unimaginable 20 years ago’..Rfaol. As for the score, feel free to give whatever score you deem fair to assign, after all it’s always a matter of personal perception/ impression/satisfaction (I gave a 7/10 to my recent meal at Le Louis XV, which to many would be unimaginable!…Oh well, guess what, to me it was unimaginable to score that meal with more than a 6/10, but I scored it with a 7/10 only because I was left with the deep impression that the pastry team did a job deserving of their own extra point on top of what the rest of the kitchen did.). For the glass of wines, a 1995….well it depends…could be actually a miracle, lol…I’d be curious to know the details of that wine, but it sounds like a fair price at €18/glass. As you surely know, most restaurants, even the high end ones that are known for their highly regarded wines do rarely open bottles this ‘relatively’ old (I actually do not remember seeing a wine by the glass tasting with wines before 2000, even in France…3 stars included, except of course on very special cases) on a wine flight . When I was there, my wines were definitely younger than this, and yes many of them were unknown to me, which I liked, but were generally inspired findings for my taste from what I recall (most being white wines, indeed. On my visit there, I purposely gave the Ok to the sommelier to go with whatever he wanted to offer, so that the effect of discovery and surprise remains unaltered, but that was just me…and that was my mood at that moment…but yes, there are wines I really hope to not find oftently at restaurants, Lol… ) . Continue your stunning job, you are simply in a totally different league among food bloggers, your very own league! PS: Loved the fun paragraph about the lobster and Poseidon ( plenty of fun reading it). I can’t comment on the other restaurant reviews you’ve just published since I have not visited Hof for way too many years and do not know Vendome.

    • Thanks for your compliments – I appreciate it 🙂
      Maybe we simply got off on the wrong foot with the sommelier, or he was in a bad mood or whatever. Maybe we said something that we weren’t aware of, and that ticked him off. Anyway, it wasn’t enough to ruin the night. The staff at Hof van Cleve was probably the youngest of the three newly visited restaurants. Vendome was approximately the same age as Victor’s.
      It’s perfectly possible that if we had come at a different day, the service would have been completely different, or if we had had different waiters the service could have been completely different. The waiters we had at Noma might not have been the same as the ones you had when you were there, as they have quite a lot of waiters, and as you say: Different perceptions. In Geranium, which is often compared to Noma, the service was a lot less warm.
      As a Dane, I feel that Danes in general are more closed than for instance Swedes. At least when I lived in London it went like this: Me (in Danish to a Swede): “Are you from Sweden?”. “Yes. And you’re from Denmark? How fun, blah, blah, blah”. Me (in Danish to a Dane): “Are you from Denmark?”. “Yes. Oh, you too?” [shrugs]. The end.
      Southern Europe? Forget about it – Spain and Italy has in general had the most warm service.
      Anyway, the food is always the most important thing, and overall we were very happy at Victor’s, which is why I gave it 8.5.

  2. I forgot to mention:
    I have never asked for, or been asked, for fish to be cooked in a particular way. I think the only thing I would ask for to be cooked in a special way would be tuna and maybe salmon. Other than that: well-done but not more than that.

  3. No, do not be worry about that sommelier: of course, I have nothing against him, but I am not surprised neither by what you have reported. He is a very serious person, Lol. He would have told you the same thing about the photos on any other day. But you’ll be surprised: despite them being very cool about everything else, Le Calandre was even more strict with me, far more strict, about taking photo. So I did it in their back ;p And I still
    BTW: your photos of your food at Vendome look really really great! I was really impressed by some of the dishes you had at Vendome. Next time I’ll try Germany again (I do not know when, though), I’ll visit Vendome and Hotel Sonnara.
    PS: Since it’s closing in December and it’s geographically close to where you are, why not visiting Oud Sluis? 2 years ago it was my plan to go to Oud Sluis, but for some reasons, I did not make it. Now it’s too late for me: I’ll have to save my efforts for perhaps Japan or maybe visiting El Celler/Azurmendi (it’s number 1 on my list for now)/San Pau (SP seems to be my style, more than El Celler, actually)

    • I actually asked for a table at Oud Sluis for this trip, but they were fully booked until they close. They put me on the waiting list for those days, but they never called me with a table.
      I’m also looking forward to Aqua in Germany. I hear good things about that one, but it was too far away from the two others in Germany to drive there this time. But next time I will go there, and then also to one called Alter Meierhof just south of the border to Denmark.
      Le Calandre actually also asked me not to use flash and not to put the pictures up on the web, but I … eh … yeah.

  4. Alter Meierhof (so restaurantof Alter Meierhof Vitalhotel in Glucksburg, right?) , thanks for mentioning it. Never heard about it before. Added to my list if I go back to Germany. Aqua, yes it looks and sounds impressive from what I keep reading/hearing, etc. Never went there, but it’s high on my list (my problem is that I have a weaker spot for Spain, so San Pau/Azurmendi/El Celler make up my top 3 next visits at this moment).

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