In the 1850s, Munich’s 17 Maximillian Strasse began entertaining its first guests. It made a name for itself by delivering a top-end traditional five-star experience to royals, politicos, and celebrities alike. Now, after almost two centuries in hospitality, it’s regarded as a sort of modern culinary-catalyst as well: inciting curious guests to explore what German cuisine really has to offer. More recently, Vier Jahreszeiten’s Schwarzreiter Restaurant has caught Michelin’s attention.
Chivalry and authenticity are high-up on the list of traits this hotel restaurant seeks in their personnel. As such, the Vier Jahreszeiten outing doesn’t begin when you step over its threshold. Rather it starts on Maximillian Strasse when coat-tailed doormen leave the safety of their sidewalk posts to open your car door for you. And though that’s not an oddity for 5-star practices, it’s where the full experience truly originates.
As you step out of your automobile, your footwork may be gently guided weather depending (quite literally speaking, the gentlemen will extend their hand). Soon enough, your eye is likely to catch a glimpse of magic. During the 2017 Christmas season, that something-special came in the form of a wintertime Talstation, with gondolas retro-fitted for the perfect personal winter dining caboose.
Located on the main floor, a couple of smart left turns will bring you into the Michelin-acclaimed Schwarzreiter restaurant.
But, if it's a libation you fancy before your feast, look a little further onto the Tagesbar; and though not yet Michelin-awarded, it's got all the right stuff to make it noteworthy.
For starters, it's not a place where you order your usual. Don’t ask for a recommendation either. Rather, the etiquette du jour suggests you tell the bar-tender, a savant of libations, what you want to consume: taste, smell, and feeling.
After all, traditional recommendations are stagnant and limiting, but the staff at Vier Jahreszeiten know that. So, naturally libations are inspired by your mood (and inclinations) - they don't come from a bartender’s bible.
For Travlr Blog’s Jamie – that taste, smell, and feeling were articulated as ‘something smoky’, ‘something dark, and alluring’ ‘with no aversion to peatyness’. Imagine a ‘trip through the bogs of Scotland’ though an ‘equally dense Brooklyn scene’ or ‘Kentucky morning – pre-horse ride with tons of fog’ would do.
Naturally, the blond, blue-eyed Azerbaijani barman knew exactly what was requested. Later one, we could say the same for the Jahreszeiten Bar Manager, the effervescent Rocco, as well.
Within minutes, a stunning blend of rye whiskey, bourbon, Laphroig 10 year old, lemon juice, Pandan syrup (star barman, Nico de Soto’s preferred ingredient), and the garnish of a burnt orange slice and meringue’ was served up.
To order the same drink on your visit to the Schwarzreiter Restaurant’s Tages Bar try asking for the Smokey NoName and see what happens, as long as you’re feeling up to something sensational – you’re destined for a treat.
Sander, our Dutch contingent, had something else in mind. A bit of a traditionalist as well, he preferred ‘clean, crisp, and clear’. A gin- based drink would be fine as he hails from the Netherlands, home to this botanical-infusion.
The Vier Jahreszeiten’s answer? A French 75 – with a twist. This Champagne (Tattinger of course) and gin-forward aperitivo, garnished with fresh lemon to ‘cleanse the palate’, was the first thing that came to mind for our friend behind the zink. Then, he went the extra mile to explain “People always crave after sweet and sour because old fruit is sweet but non-ripened fruit, which we’re used to as well, is sour, so a pairing of the two together, well, it’s a perfect combination”.
With this, he is confirming the drink’s blend but doesn’t stop short of letting us know the secret weapon of choice.
“Salt is always added here, just a spritz” (it’s essence of salt that he prefers more specifically), because “if you don’t add it to the drink you’ll miss something, often it’s hard to place, but thos saline savory note finish off the drink”.
We couldn’t agree more. The Schwarzreiter Tagesbar at Kempinski Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten is working hard to redefine the concept of the hotel saloon experience by updating their approach to serving and service: delivering mixology without pretention. Here it’s all about the guest. Dinner, oddly enough, is no exception.
Cocktail glasses emptied – we headed for the reserved table for two in the nook by the restaurant’s enterance.
The tables are set bare-wood, sporting only the essentials white-linen serviettes, well-balanced cutlery, the restaurant’s signature essence of salt and a single burning candle.
As guests asking after a recommendation, Obatzda, a creamy Bavarian cheese spread is served in the ambiance of the Schwarzreiter’s moniker evening mood lighting. The menu is short and sweet, sporting modernized Alpine recipes which accommodate vegetarian and carnivorous palates alike.
We indulged in their seasonal Salmon, and Saibling (rainbrow trout) with roe - to start. The latter of which is smoked in-house and boasts a particularly well-balanced flavour due to the contrasting salty roe, smoked fish, and citric notes.
For mains, being truffle lovers, the decision was easy. There’s a section of the menu dedicated to several dishes defined by their white-truffle-based notes entirely. We opted for two of them. The Bavarian Beef for Sander, and Cod for Jamie.
The first, paired with a Rioja was brilliant. The medium-rare request was delivered spot on. The touch of truffle you ask? Well, that pulled it all together. Again, not based on a premeditated suggestion but rather on the waitress, Fleur, and her understanding of Sander’s mood and what few hints he’d given her about it.
For the cod, a French Chardonnay did wonders. It enhanced the rich notes of the dish – allowing them to linger a little longer.
Desert? Equally delightful. Picture ooey-gooey chocolate-souffle, and though nothing new, it’s much harder to perfect than you’d think. It’s all in the technique and the chemistry behind the blend of the ingredients and the method used to pull them all together. But, the complexity is hidden here because they’ve nailed it. Presentation, texture, and taste.
As for the strudel, well, ket’s just say that the secret lay in the homemade ice-cream that it’s served with. Not to mention the golden, flaky pastry. So good in fact, it’s well worth the return for afters and an espresso alone when the sweet-tooth gets the better of us.
Text J.Patterson & M.Chojnacki (Editor)
Photography & Styling: J.Patterson
Journalistic Note Taker & Jr. Food Critic: S.Monster (NL correspondent)
To discover more of this München-must-see address, click through the gallery images below. Hungry? More details here.