Klaus Erfort is one of the very few 3* chefs, who not only own their restaurant, but who also have no incomes besides it. Nonetheless, he manages to survive financially, even in such tough times. Erfort’s cooking is what one could call neo-classical. His plates are centred around perfectly cooked fish or meat and are accompanied by equally well done garnishes and sauces. As the Saarland borders on France, Erfort sources most of his produce from there. His Simmental beef and veal for instance is re-imported, as the whole production is exported to France. His poultry comes from the legendary producer Jean Claude Mieral, who along with Paul Bocuse and Alain Chapel strived and still strives towards perfection in the elevage of birds in the Bresse.
The restaurant itself is located in a beautiful villa dating from the turn of the century and is surrounded by a magnificent park. The rooms are coloured in a bright beige and furnished relatively modernly. They are comfortable and do not distract from the plate.
Erfort has one unique feature, which only few restaurants of that class have, or indeed use: A spectacular garden and terrace. When the warmer days come, one can enjoy his whole meal on this lovely terrace and gaze into the garden, in which the city seems far, far away. It is quite rare to have a three star serve meals outside, and when it happens, it usually maximises the diner’s pleasure. The only time I experienced so far was at the Louis XV.
Today, we were having a special deal, available at 59euro per person (only if you are under 30). As this is laughably cheap, one can imagine, that the kitchen can’t show as much of its strengths as it can on the normal tasting menu (160euro, last time I checked).
To start the meal, one is always approached with a procession of delightful little bites. The first to land on the table were a macaron filled with foie gras and smoked eel. This was very well made, although the only thing it shares with a macaron was the shape. This combination is one that I am particularly fond of, so one can’t argue about it. A good start.
Also, we enjoyed a terrific flammekuechle, an Alsatian institution of a dish. It is composed of bacon, cream and onions, which are laid on bread dough. This little canapé is a bit of a signature here, as I’ve had it during my previous meals too. This was very good and precise as always.
A poached quail’s egg with parsley, crispy chicken skin and summer truffles was the best of the amuses. The textural variations in this dish were perfectly balanced and the summer truffles surprisingly tasty. Excellent
Following this, we were brought a martini glass filled with tomato jelly and some kind of crustacean at the bottom. The jelly had very deep, intense tomato flavour and was very refreshing. Exactly the kind of amuse one wishes for on a lush summer evening. Very good.
Bread was good, with the focaccia being the best by far. The butter is Echire, which was very pleasant. I didn’t understand why we had to ask for a refill of the bread twice, but it might be that the house doesn’t want people to fill up on the bread, as the food is worth the wait.
The first course today arrived promptly. The foie gras with pineapple and pepper is a classic of Klaus Erfort and one can easily understand why. First of all, every element on the plate, notably the foie, is prepared expertly and has a distinct role. The liver is perfectly creamy and divinely seasoned. It is wrapped in thin slices of marinated (very sweet) pineapple and topped with a little crisp and almonds. The whole becomes better with every bite one eats which is a rare thing as far as I can tell. It is a picture book perfect dish, which relies on superior product quality and preparation. Excellent.
The main today was far better than anything I have had at Erfort during my previous meals here. This Mieral pigeon with celery, parsnips and summer truffles was a terrific piece of poultry. Erfort lets the pigeons mature, which boosts their gamey flavour even more, giving them a whole new depth and punch. He then cooks them to perfection by poaching them sous vide. The accompanying summer truffles were surprisingly tasty, the first time I come across specimens that are noteworthy. The jus was equally tasty and flavoursome and combined the elements perfectly. The real star of the dish remained its main protagonist: The pigeon. It was very close those of Herman or Moret which are the best I can recall eating. All in all, this was outstanding.
Dessert was also much better than I had remembered. This time we had a play on Mon Cheri, a chocolate Germans enjoy a lot. The original version consists of cherries, dark chocolate and Kirsch, a classical combination, which Erfort turned into an interesting dessert. The two sorbets were yoghurt and cherry, both well made, and tasty. The main piece of the dessert was a chocolate ball, which was made up of chocolate mousse, cherries and a bit of Kirsch. The balance between the alcohol and the other elements was perfect. The addition of a crunchy element gave the ball the textural interest it needed Very good.
The petit fours we were served consisted of a mint sphere, a raspberry tartlet, a passion fruit pate de fruit and a few chocolates. All of them were very enjoyable, whilst the pate de fruit, and tartlet were my favourites. The passion fruit pate was delightfully tart and had a most pleasing texture.
To end the meal, a little ice cream was served. It was a coffee ice cream coated in chocolate and praline. Somehow, these little treats are always a winner, especially if as well made as here. Very good.
All in all, this meal was terrific: The pigeon was one of the finer specimens I have encountered up to now and definitely was the stand out dish for me. The foie was equally well prepared, although the sweetness seemed a little too much on a starter (this is a matter of personal taste though). The dessert was maybe the weakest part, I simply haven’t encountered a single dessert in Germany that was as good as those in France. The terrace is one of the biggest assets that the restaurant has, and luckily enough, it is used. Often restaurants of this type do not serve an entire meal on their terrace, which is a pity if the weather permits it. The dining experience is just like no other.
It was interesting to see a 3* fully booked on a Tuesday night. Especially, if one takes into consideration, that the Saarland is not the most prosperous region of Germany. After having talked to the chef, I was told that they usually are that full, or close to being fully booked. These days, it just is relatively rare to see a restaurant fully booked. I suppose the relatively low wine and food prices (starters start at 19euro) make up part of that.