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Burg Schnellenberg Restaurant
Website: burg-schnellenberg.de

This inviting hotel/restaurant typifies the rustic elegance that is so characteristic of fine German dining. Here you find vaulted ceilings, a plethoric variety of stags' horns, huge crackling fireplace, crisp white napery, and friendly yet extremely competent service.

Begin with a glass of bone dry sherry or, perhaps, a German kir, a felicitous commingling of Champagne and homemade Schenellenberger elderberry juice. Both are guaranteed to perk up your appetite for the wonderful things to come.

A first-rate starter is the double consommé of beef. The broth is perfectly clear and light in color but intensely flavorful. If you enjoy soups, but appreciate something a bit heartier, the kale soup with smoked sausage is just the ticket. It is a heady combo of assertively seasoned finely chopped kale, onions, potatoes, sprinkling of mustard seeds, and liberal bestowal of chunks of semi-spicy sausage.

If you prefer salads, the lamb's lettuce and assorted greens tossed with a fabulous potato vinaigrette, bacon morsels, and crispy croutons is a superb opening move. . . as is the sumptuous terrine of wood pigeon. It is accompanied by a creamy apple-celery salad in ramekins of endive and garnished with greenery. The apple-celery concoction is very rich, but a perfect counterpoint to the terrine and acidic vinaigrette in the greens.

We dined here on two successive nights, our first two in Germany. On our first evening, my wife chose the moist and tender filet of pork. Thick slices are surrounded by a sea of creamy peppercorn sauce enhanced with mango. Sides of mango and potato dumplings are presented in diminutive silver serving dishes. The broccoli florets were dressed with just a touch of butter and sprinkling of slivered almonds. The homemade potato dumplings are exquisite of taste and ethereal of texture. Perch-pike is a favorite of the German table, and it is inevitably perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. . . and this occasion was certainly no exception. Three lightly floured filets are set on a bed of sautéed spinach and surrounded by a pool of Champagne sauce. A side of yellow and spinach noodles completes the delicious scenario.

A 1993 Würzburger Pfaffenburg from the Franken region is a perfect complement for both the fish and the pork.

On our second evening, we elected more robust main courses. The rump steak is coated with an ingratiating mixture of mustard and horseradish and topped with a delicate crêpe. Braised cabbage and beautifully browned potato croquettes provide the accompaniment. My wife opted for the superlative breast of roasted free-range goose (plus drumstick) in the company of airy potato dumplings and benchmark red cabbage.

The wine: a 2000 an excitingly fruity Neuenahrer Schieferlay Spätburgunder from H.J. Kreuzberg.

We also enjoyed several top-notch desserts: a crêpe of cinnamon plums and slices of caramelized pears. Both were embellished with a smattering of seasonal fruits and dots of fresh whipped cream. The former was spruced up with a dollop of bourbon vanilla ice cream, the latter, with praline ice cream.

Not only is Burg Schnellenberg an outstanding restaurant but a homey, romantic hotel as well. We spent two glorious nights in one of the establishment's cozy "tower" rooms, consisting of a sitting area and spiral staircase leading to spacious bedroom and luxurious bath replete with marble accoutrements, beautiful glass-enclosed stall shower and huge soaking tub. A marvelous experience!

The Artful Diner
November 2002

The Artful Diner is an independent, freelance food writer.  His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.

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