When you go to a regular fine dining restaurant the day before, and it is way better than the Michelin-restaurant, which was supposed to be the highlight of your journey, something is amiss. Therefore, a huge shout-out to Fakkelgården in Kollund, Denmark, which is absolutely worth a visit and a stay. Now to the serious part of the actual business: Reviewing 1-star restaurant Wullenwever in the charming town of Lübeck in Germany.
The weather was splendid, and all the guests were seated outside in the cosy backyard with flower arrangements and statues. Our reservation was for 6:30 p.m., and apparently so was everybody else’s. Almost all guests arrived at the same time, and we wondered how they would manage. The answer: Do not engage with the guests.
Unfortunately, we were unaware of having to order the full seven course dinner at least one day in advance, so we had to make do with choosing four courses (cheese being one of them) from the six courses on the menu. We asked for complimentary wine after their choosing.
Breadbasket with butter, tomato paste, cream cheese, and olive oil
Nice bread, but no presentation. Already at this point we observed the casualness. The waiters were smiling, but there was no hint of personal delivery to the wine or the bread. No presentation of types of bread or butter, and no asking as to why we came, whether it was a special occasion, or any other kind of small talk.
Oka of swordfish with lime, coconut
Fritz Haag, 2021, Riesling, Germany
Neither the wine nor the swordfish was presented with anything but what the menu or the wine label said, and at no point during the evening we got any information about the produce. Were they locally produced? Were they processed in a specific way? And why did the chef/sommelier recommend this specific wine?
The other starter on the menu contained shellfish, so we took the swordfish. When asked, the waiters could not explain what “oka” meant. We looked it up afterwards, and apparently it is a Samoan way of serving swordfish.
Served in copperplated glasses covered in black, it all looked delicious. The fish was cut into tiny cubes, thus creating a meaty substance without revealing the original structure.
Thin coconut slices, edible flowers, and a hint of coriander left you with clear, distinctive flavours – however a bit one-dimensional. A bit of chilli or turmeric would have added to the experience.
The wine was mild and crisp, without much acidity and a hint of petroleum. It suited the fish very well, and we would happily order 12 bottles for ourselves.
Venison with elderflower, green beans, carrot, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, and cherry
Domaine St Antoine, Fascination, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016, France
Again a serving without any other presentation than naming the ingredients already visible. Here, we got the explanation as to how it was possible to serve 10 tables at the same time.
The plating was underwhelming; no finesse, just ingredients slammed up in a pile. It tasted fine, but nothing more than what you would expect from a homecooked dinner. The cherries were flavourless without the full taste of summer and cherry you can expect in August. The mix of celeriac and celery leaf worked, but the green beans were unnecessary, and in general this course lacked heart. It was far from Michelin star level.
The Cabernet Sauvignon had notes of forest berries and cherries, tobacco, and the correct hint of Brettanomyces. It was fine and would have been spot on if the flavours of the course had been more distinct. On a positive note, the waiters were generous with the wine. They often came back and offered more.
Variety of cheeses
Montbriac, Taylor’s Late , 2017, Vintage Port, Portugal
The cheese trolley hosted a variety of 15-20 different cheeses, most of them with small name tags. Thank you for that, because it was just left before us for a few minutes, while the waiter served other guests, and upon returning we were just asked what we would like. We were recommended one cheese, though, but still we felt left behind. The accompanying bread and chutney were delicious, again without further presentation.
Globes of various ice creams
Mosel Neumagener, Laudamusberg Auslese, 2019, Riesling, Germany
The wine had notes of petroleum and honey, and this semidry wine suited the dessert. However – it would have been nice to know what we got. The beautiful plate with various types of ice cream in soft and hard-shelled globed deserved more than just being put before you.
Ironically, execution has two meanings, and both fit this restaurant. The name Wullenwever refers to the mayor of Lübeck, Jürgen Wullenwever (c. 1492-1537), who was executed, and the execution of the four courses was not worth a Michelin star.
Once again, we were confirmed in our suspicion that the Danish Michelin-stars are much harder to achieve than the German stars. Vau and Fischers Fritz in Berlin were respectively disastrous and underwhelming; Wullenwever was no better than an ordinary evening with friends – and then: Friends would show interest in your wellbeing and be proud of their culinary efforts.
As we mentioned in the beginning, there are other restaurants worth travelling for, even if they do not hold a Michelin star. The cosy backyard, generous wine, and smiling, yet uninterested waiters, is not.