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Hessler Retaurant
Am Bootshafen 4, Maintal
Website: hesslers.de

2004 - It was with deep sadness that we reported the death of Doris-Katharina Hessler. The restaurant closed for a brief time and reopened with Sybille Milde as chef.
2011 - Er erlernte sein Handwerk unter anderem bei 3-Sterne Koch Dieter Müller in Bergisch Gladbach und bei Sternekoch Heinz Wehmann im Landhaus Scherrer in Hamburg.

She bears an uncanny resemblance to actress Jacqueline Bisset. . . and her photographs are everywhere - lining an entire wall of the casual bistro adjoining her one-star restaurant, on each and every table in the more formal dining room, gracing the desks in the six stylish guestrooms above her eatery - and her name is on every piece of china and napery in sight.

But lest you think this is just another sensual/slightly sexual excursion into the dubious world of culinary narcissism, when you finally meet Doris-Katharina Hessler, she is actually quite shy and self-effacing. . . but her food speaks for itself.

You enter a very modern dining room adorned with light wood but significantly softened by colorful paintings, brightly patterned cushioned chairs and table skirts, and accented by tastefully subdued lighting and romantic candlelight. The ambiance is completely first class but not at all intimidating. From the moment you cross the threshold, you sense that this is a warm, welcoming space.

You begin with an amuse-bouche, a paté of wild boar with a touch of cassis sauce dotted with morsels of pistachio. This is a most unusual presentation, but one that succeeds in tantalizing the taste buds for the exciting offerings yet to come. There are several different gastronomic routes one may elect to travel here, but the Menu De Degustation is surely the most rewarding.

Your journey commences with a charlotte of heavenly foie gras crowned with a gelée of diced duck breast. The charlotte is lovingly embraced by vertical strips of carrot and Jerusalem artichoke and surrounded by three diminutive islands of red leaf lettuce gently tossed with a sunflower dressing and sprinkled with pine nuts. A superbly artistic presentation that arrives on a triangular plate embellished with a smattering of sautéed shiitake mushrooms.

Two perfectly seared scallops are escorted to table on an island of puréed Jerusalem artichoke enveloped in a sensuous sea of foamed cream with white truffles. This is culinary subtlety at its finest. Heavy cream - which when utilized indiscriminately can deliver the coup de grâce to both the palate and peristalsis - is here (and on several other occasions) administered with the utmost discretion.

There follows a lovely filet of perch-pike adorned with an ethereal dusting of breadcrumbs. The filet is circumscribed by delicious dollops of potatoes puréed with white fish and a tender armada of asparagus spears. The consummating touch is a pungent parsley vinaigrette.

The pièce de résistance, however, is surely the extraordinary filet of venison served in a walnut crust. The filet itself is unbelievably tender and is accompanied by a potato spiral, dollops of red and green cabbage, and a tiny morsel of heavenly chestnut purée. This is a dish that will forever haunt my dreams.

The dessert "surprise" yielded a silky nougat and chocolate mousse interspersed with wafers of white chocolate crowned with a tiara of mango slices in a rose pattern and a slice of fresh pineapple topped with an inverted chocolate cone filled with a delicious coconut ice milk.

This was our final stop in Germany but certainly the high point gastronomically. We spent our final two nights in one of the tastefully-appointed guestrooms, availing ourselves of Ms. Hessler's gracious hospitality. Located just a few short miles from the bustling city of Frankfurt, this is the perfect spot to commence or conclude your journey to Deutschland. I recommend it highly.

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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