Le Ciel, Berchtesgaden, Germany – Restaurant Review

By Jonathan Spira on 22 August 2013
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One of the treats one gets by staying at the InterContinental Resort Berchtesgaden,DSC_2502-2 a hotel set 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, is that the aptly named restaurant Le Ciel (French for the Sky) is only an elevator ride away.

Regulars (I count myself as part of this group) know what to expect, namely an unending parade of delicacies.  It was comforting to enter the softly lighted restaurant and see the column on which past guests have left their comments.  On past visits, I had always felt somewhat intimidated by this but I vowed to add a comment this time around.

The dining room exudes a quiet elegance that is also showcased in Chef Ulrich Heimann’s cuisine.  On past visits, I learnt of Chef Heimann’s passion for food, which is reflected in the vegetables and fruits that come fresh out of the garden, the herbs that he gathers hiking in Berchtesgaden, and his reliance on local suppliers that include local hunters and fishermen.

As a regular, DSC_2488-2I knew to choose the four-course meal, well aware that four magically becomes seven or eight at Le Ciel.  I advised my dining companion and FBT European editor Christian Stampfer of this arithmetical paradox.

Indeed, I recall my first meal here with fondness.  After two different amuse bouche plates were served, the waiter said “Jetzt starten wir” (“now we begin”).  I thought that we had started almost an hour earlier.

This visit was no different.  We started with two small slices of bread with aubergine, served on a flat stone on the plate, and two baked veal lollipops popping out of a rock on the side of the plate.  A second amuse bouche followed.

Did I mention the bread, freshly baked? Bildschirmfoto-2013-08-22-um-12.30-2There were three kinds, tucked into a soft napkin, and accompanied by two kinds of butter.  I had to try one of each kind but then apply a modicum of restraint.

Le Ciel has a wine list sure to satisfy even the most fastidious of oenophiles and I opted for one of my regular choices, a 2011 Grüner Veltliner Federspiel from Rudi Pichler, a vintner in my favorite wine-growing region in the world, the Wachau in Lower Austria.  One of the nice things about a Grüner Veltliner, and Pichler’s in particular, is how well it pairs with everything.  It’s a delightful wine with a moderate amount of minerality, a very strong and satisfying acidity, and notes of apple and citrus.

Then we started.

Click here to continue to Page 2The Meal

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