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Restaurant Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern, Germany - 3 Michelin stars

Rating: 97.
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Note: Restaurant Überfahrt was awarded a third Michelin star in 2014 Michelin guide Germany.

Restaurant Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. The restaurant is housed in Seehotel Überfahrt on the shores of the Tegernsee, a beautiful lake situated some 50 kilometers south of Munich. The hotel is part of the German Althoff Group, a group that has a reputation for having (multi) Michelin starred restaurants in their hotels; among the others are 3-star Vendôme restaurant at the Schloss Bensberg Hotel in Bergisch-Gladbach, 2-star Gourmetrestaurant Lerbach at Schlosshotel Lerbach, also located in Bergisch-Gladbach and 1-star Seven Park Place at the St. James Hotel & Club in London.

Executive chef at restaurant Überfahrt is Christian Jürgens (b. 1968), who started his training in 1984 at the tender age of 16 in Bad Homburg. Some four years later he started working in Munich at Feinkost Kåfer (a renowned delicatessen and catering company that also operates a fine dining restaurant) and later on at (the then 3-star) Tantris. In the nineties he continued his training at Residenz Heinz Winkler in Aschau (3 Michelin stars at the time), Jörg Müller (2 Michelin stars - Jörg is a brother of former 3-star chef Dieter Müller) and even at Eckart Witzigmann's legendary 3-star Aubergine in Munich (just before the restaurant closed in 1994).

In 1997 Christian Jürgens became head-chef at Restaurant am Marstall in Munich and a year later the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. A couple of years later, in 2001, he became head-chef at Restaurant Kastell at Hotel Burg Wernberg in the Bavarian town of Wernberg-Köblitz, some 30 kilometers from the Czech Republic, and here he was awarded a second Michelin star in 2002. Jürgens held on to these two stars when he became head chef at Restaurant Überfahrt in 2008. In 2013 Jürgens was named 'Chef of the Year' by Gault Millau Germany and the restaurant is one of only ten establishments in the guide to hold 19 points.

Restaurant Überfahrt is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday till Sunday. The restaurant offers two tasting menus, menu I (5 courses for €169) and menu II (7 courses for €199). The dishes on both tasting menus are individually priced and can be ordered as a la carte dishes too. I had dinner at Restaurant Überfahrt with my husband on Wednesday 4 September 2013 and we both ordered the 7-course tasting menu.

First to arrive was a large pebble covered with sour cream and iced cress crème served with some homemade crackers. This was followed by an amuse bouche (first of four) called 'Quail's Egg' - an edible shell, that had a light wheat flavour, filled with "Frankfurter grüne Sosse" (a pungent mixed green herb sauce) and a 'Tafelspitz' yolk, that had a lovely smooth and liquid filling.

Shortly after the next two amuse bouches were served. A crispy crêpe cornetto with a delicious fresh and creamy onion crème filling and a Bündnerfleisch (air-dried beef) cornetto with a beef tartare filling, topped with dots of avocado, paprika and caviar. Both the avocado and paprika had a nice, slightly coarse, texture. Two elegant amuse bouches with wonderful clean and precise flavours and I really like the creative use of crêpes and Bündnerfleisch to make the cornettos.

Potato bread and milk bread served with local (Miesbacher) butter.

Last in the amuse bouche line was a a beautifully presented 'summer snowball' - a fluffy white tomato foam with a tomato caipirinha bonbon inside. The bonbon was absolutely sensational, the liquid tomato caipirinha filling had wonderful concentrated tomato flavours and a fantastic touch of piquancy. Great depth and great freshness, vivid flavours that really packed a punch.

First course: 'Mon Cherie' - duck foie gras, cherries, popcorn, herbs. At the bottom of the dish was a lovely light and smooth duck foie gras crème, sprinkled with some dried herb powder, topped with luscious plump cherries filled with peppered goat's cheese, lightly caramelised popcorn and finally a drizzle of cherry syrup. Some lightly toasted brioche, with an amazing light texture, was served on the side. This was a splendid light and elegant foie gras dish with the perfect balance between richness, sweetness and freshness. Wonderful richness from the foie gras, but because of the light and creamy texture, not the heaviness. The same applied to the cherries, nice and sweet but not too sticky. The fresh leaves delivered a nice extra freshness. The only downside was the wobbling serving dish, which made the dish difficult to eat.

This was followed by 'Lorbeerblatter' - bay leaves, artichoke, tomato, olive, sardine, escabeche. Juicy marinated tomatoes, chopped sardines, some small croutons, olive puree and an artichoke puree, topped with an edible 'bay leaf' and served with an escabeche 'sud'  (dressing/sauce). This was the first time ever that I was served an edible bay leaf and I still haven't been able to find out what type of leaf was actually served to us. Obviously I did ask one of the waitresses and she confirmed it was a bay leaf. Anyway, the leaf was juicy and had a lovely crunchy texture. The 'sud' had all the characteristic escabeche flavours with subtle sharp notes and the slightly thick consistency delivered a wonderful creamy mouthfeel. Also loved how the 'sud' lifted all the other flavours. A fantastic dish with wonderfully balanced sweet, salty and bitter flavours.

Third course was 'Ein Teller voll Meer' (a plate full of seafood), served on a glass plate designed especially by Christian Jürgens for seafood dishes in cooperation with the German crystal producer Zwiesel Kristallglas. On the plate were turbot, salmon, shrimp and octopus, all faultlessly cooked, the octopus being wonderfully tender. The fish was sprinkled with a lovely and fragrant red chilli-lime zest mixture and served with a deliciously pure and clear saffron bouillon (poured tableside). Also on the plate were some small white shrimps, a mussel with a ratatouille sauce, red pepper rouille, lime caviar, fennel and baby squid tube with a mirepoix filling.

This was an exquisite dish with beautifully balanced, exciting flavours and a great variety of textures. The rouille added a wonderful touch of richness and just the right amount of oomph. Great texture and delicate sweet saltiness from the small white shrimps, that also gave the dish an extra bursting flavour of the sea. And a really clever touch was the lime caviar, that had melted into the bouillon, delivering the perfect touch of sharpness.

'Mon Petit Hérisson' (My Little Hedgehog) was next. An excellent piece of moist and tender seabass with a terrific crisp skin with puffed up scales (I believe this must be the hedgehog reference), served with a basil sphere and a selection of pickled cucumber, including cucumber topped with citrussy tapioca pearls. Best of all was an aromatic smoked fish fond/sauce with sensational dark smoky flavours, that complemented the seabass beautifully. A carefully constructed dish with the right amount of freshness to counterbalance the richness of the sauce and the fish.

On to the fifth course, 'Pinzgauer Rind' - two dishes made with Pinzgauer beef from the Chiemgau region. First a so-called summer beef soup. A clear beef stock with slices of raw beef, some crunchy baby carrots and a soft quail's egg. Lovely clean beef flavours and the egg added a nice touch of luxury. The bowl in which the soup was served, was 'painted' with a cep crème that blended in deliciously with the stock.

This was followed by soft slow-braised fore rib (on the bone) and pink and tender fillet of beef. The fore rib was presented tableside and then taken back to the kitchen for carving and plating. The quality and flavour of both cuts was spectacular. With the beef came a gorgeous well-reduced beef jus, a smooth and pure potato and leek puree, crunchy puffed quinoa and on top of the braised beef was a deliciously light Hollandaise sauce. Best of all was a bone marrow sphere, with a marvellous, lightly smoked, liquid filling, that exploded in the mouth. A superb beef dish, powerful but quite restrained at the same time, not too many flavours. 

Sixth course was 'Golden Eye' - a slice of Fourme d'Ambert cheese, topped with caramelised macadamia nuts and a golden sphere filled with Calvados. Hidden underneath the slice of Fourme d'Ambert was a creamy Fourme d'Ambert mousse with a wonderful smooth consistency and a lovely hint of blue cheese sharpness.

Last and seventh course: 'Buttermilch and Heidelbeere' (buttermilk and blueberries). A mirror of blueberry jelly, dotted with blueberry juice spheres and marinated blueberries, on which a quark soufflé was turned out (tableside). The souffé was absolutely terrific, evenly caramelised on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Right next to the soufflé was some blueberry ice cream and a buttermilk cream, surrounded by pieces of crisp caramelised milk skin. Beautiful balance of sweet and tart flavours, nice subtle crunch from the crisp milk skin and one of the best soufflés in recent memory.

This was a simply exceptional meal. Christian Jürgens produces modern, refined dishes with an occasional quirky German touch, artistically presented and prepared with fastidious attention to detail. His cooking embodies a well-nigh perfect merger between classic and modern techniques. The flavours are quite sublime and sometimes wonderfully exuberant. The dishes reflect Christian Jürgens' creativity and focus firmly on flavour and top-quality (local) ingredients; this is inventive cooking that does not need to rush after every latest trend.  A lot of work goes into some of the dishes; the execution of the seafood dish was particularly impressive, each fish having the perfect 'cuisson'.

The design of the beautifully appointed dining room is modern and sophisticated and the atmosphere is wonderfully relaxed - which is still quite rare in German hotel-based fine dining restaurants. The staff, with a special mention for sommelier Stefanie Hehn, are knowledgable, attentive and friendly. There is no doubting the ambitions of the team at Überfahrt: they want to be among the very best in the business.  Christian Jürgens' cooking is clearly aiming for a third Michelin star and I wouldn't be at all suprised if he gets it.

Posted 28-09-2013


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