Jul 14, '08

L’Arnsbourg

The K Hotel
The K Hotel

The K Hotel

The first thing that is striking at the three Michelin stars L’Arnsbourg is its location. The restaurant and the K hotel (owned by the Klein family) are hidden in the Black Forest. It is a little fairy tale like- when you arrive in the early evening, the night is beginning to fall and the Black Forest becomes even blacker and more mysterious… (Thank goodness for the GPS system as without surprise- this place cannot be found easily.)Then there is the cutting edge design K hotel which was the first thing that caught my eye in the Relais§Châteaux book one year or so ago. It is built in the way that the forest is “present” even when you open your eyes in the morning- huge windows won’t let you forget that you are in the middle of nature.

L'Arnsbourg

L’Arnsbourg

Jean-Georges Klein, the chef of L’Arnsbourg shows his generosity from the first 5 minutes you sit in his restaurant – you are “showered” with amuse bouches. I don’t remember the components of each of them but the ones I do remember were something you just can’t forget.

Especially the melting in your mouth rouille and bouillabaisse macarons (the first and third from the left). They tasted exactly how rouille and bouillabaisse.

rouille and bouillabaisse macarons
Rouille and bouillabaisse macarons

Or like the paper-thin pizza – crispy but also moist thanks to the fresh tomatoes.

paper-thin pizza
Paper-thin pizza
Watemelon brochettes with basil.
Watemelon brochettes with basil.

Parmesan cheese sandwiches ( parmesan crisps and parmesan cream). I found the watermelon brochettes and the parmesan sandwiches the least interesting from all the amuse bouches. The watermelon brochettes were basic, while the parmesan sandwiches tasted like parmesan and nothing else.

Parmesan cheese sandwiches
Parmesan cheese sandwiches

But the “tastes boredom” didn’t last for long as then the “Air, Earth and Sea ” (from right to left)amuse bouches arrived”. The “Air” kingdom was represented by pigeon liver mousse and crispy bacon. I don’t recount of what exactly “Earth” and “Sea” were made of though… So many amuse bouches it’s not easy to remember!

Air, Earth and Sea
Air, Earth and Sea

The oyster with grapefruits flesh… You had to eat it at once…

oyster
Oyster

The main courses..

Découpe de Langoustine,Granny Smith,Curry Vert et Aloe Vera Confit"
“Découpe de Langoustine, Granny Smith, Curry Vert et Aloe Vera Confit”

“Classics revisited”. The langoustine carpaccio with apples and aloe vera. Let’s say, the least interesting dish of all the main courses, but without question, excellent…

L'Oeuf 62°C,aux parfums de nos Sous Bois".
“L’Oeuf 62°C,aux parfums de nos Sous Bois”.

The egg was cooked for 48 hours in 62°C temperature. It was not simply a boiled egg- the texture was very soft and interesting.

Emulsion de Pommes de Terre et Truffe
“Emulsion de Pommes de Terre et Truffe”

The potatoes emulsion was so fine that it was almost like a mousse. Too bad it is not the truffles season now as with fresh black truffles it would be more than perfection as it was already perfection.

One more amuse-bouche- if I remember correctly, it was caviar of olives in the crunchy caramelized cup.

caviar of olives in the crunchy caramelized cup
Caviar of olives in the crunchy caramelized cup

The sea bass was baked in salt and then flambé with anise liquor in front of you. I just loved the conviviality of this dish which is rare in three Michelin stars restaurants. It was served with potato purée “like nowhere else”. (Much lighter but as “buttery” as Joel Robuchon’s purée”),risotto, vegetables and beurre blanc sauce. In a way it was a simple dish – you can find sea bass baked in salt in many decent seafood restaurants in France, but I do give credit for the flawless execution.

Loup de Mer au Fenouil
“Loup de Mer au Fenouil” preparation
Loup de Mer au Fenouil
“Loup de Mer au Fenouil”
Loup de Mer au Fenouil
“Loup de Mer au Fenouil”
Drink
The petit fours
The petit fours

And the dessert. “Forêt Noire” cake revisited.

Forêt Noire
“Forêt Noire”

Was the dinner in L’Arnsbourg was worth all  U-turns made in order to get there? Absolutely yes- I had a very pleasant evening. The only default I noticed is that the food is not really consistent. For example, some amuse bouches were very creative, some should have been left out… L’Arnsbourg is not Troisgros and probably will never be, but I think the chef has enough fantasy to keep his third star for the future…

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