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Aqua

Refine Search > World > Europe > Germany > Wolfsburg

Location

Contact info

Parkstrasse 138440 Wolfsburg
Germany
T+49 5361607091

Affiliations

  • Les Grandes Tables du Monde

Open

MTWTFSS
Lunch              
Dinner              

Chef's personal info

Name: Sven Elverfeld
Date of birth: 13-11-1968
Origin: Germany
Experience:
Stadtbäckerei Schadeberg (pastry chef)> 3 yearsLSG Lufthansa Service GmbH (Chef de cuisine)> 1 yearGutsschänke Schloß Johannisberg, Geisenheim (Commis de cuisine)  Restaurant Humperdinck, Frankfurt am Main (Demi-Chef de cuisine)  Restaurant Dieter Müller, Schlosshotel Lerbach, Bergisch-Gladbach (Chef de partie)  Gourmet Restaurant La Bouillabaisse, Minos Beach Hotel, Crete (Chef de cuisine Hessler, Maintal-Dörnigheim (Sous chef)  Gourmet Restaurant La Baie, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai (Chef de cuisine)  
 
Books:
Küche der GefühleGerman Landbuch Verlag
 

Readers Rating

   
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Reviews

Review by gatnomboih | Friday, 21 Jun 2013
One of the best restaurants in Germany. Aqua probably serves the best high-end-comfort-food anywhere. Every dish bristles with flavour. Strange but great setting. Very good service.

Where to sleep in the neighborhood?

Articles

UlteriorEpicure.com -
Neue deutsch....

Neue deutsch....

-

In September of last year, I was invited on an eating junket, along with a few others, to tour Germany’s top tables. The invitation came from my friend Ingo Scheuermann, author of of the blog High End Food and co-author of “bau.stil,” Christian Bau’s new cookbook, who organized this trip with the German Board of Tourism, our sponsor.

The itinerary was simple, but spectacular: Five days, five cities, and five of Germany’s best chefs. Dozens of miles, dozens of dishes, and a dozen Michelin stars.

A few of us inaugurated the trip early with dinner at Schloss Berg, Bau’s three Michelin-starred restaurant in Perl Nennig. From there, we shot across the country on the sleek deutsche bahn to Wolfsburg, where we picked up the rest of our group. Here is where I’ll start the story. I’ll rewind and forward to fill in the rest later.

 

* * *

A pool within a lake.

* * *

Wolfsburg is home to the Volkswagen Group (which includes Audi, Porsche, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Bentley) and its Autostadt, an impressive complex that hosts the delivery of their cars to buyers willing to make the pilgrimage.

German innovation and engineering, this place oozes it, and the attendant money that comes with it.

Sleek silos rise around the corporate campus, stacked with cars; from afar, glass showcases of high-dollar micro machines. They are stunning and surreal to behold.

To house the company’s high-dollar executives and clients, there’s a silo too, this one more squat than tall, with Ritz Carlton’s name on it. It too, is meticulously designed (by Frenchman Andrée Putman), sleek and fetching. The rooms are generous, especially by European standards, almost fawning with footage. The lawn is mowed with little robots, that somehow mind the water’s edge, and trees, and squirrels too. And there’s a breathtaking lap pool floating in the middle of a pond out back, with a magnificent view of the old Volkswagen factory, smokestacks and all. I relished this amenity above all others.

And, of course, if no expense is to be spared, there shall be a stunning dining room, with stunning wares, and stunning food. Volkswagen delivers all of these at Aqua, Sven Elverfeld’s Michelin 3-starred restaurant.

* * *

Aqua

* * *

Of the meals I had on this junket, the one Elverfeld presented us was, for me, the most compelling example of neue deutsch.

“Neue” it is. But it does not cut loose its mooring from the mother flavors of its chef. Fat trimmed lean with acid, this is the story that makes German cuisine so readable to me. And Elverfeld narrates it wonderfully, with wit and precision.

His food is playful, like a frozen balloon of handkäs, a pungent, sour milk cheese, over which warm vinaigrette was spooned to reveal a hollow heart. Germans will know this dish – traditionally, a marinated cheese – and its amusing title – handkäs mit musik – suggestive of the tunes you’ll toot after you eat it. But not in this form, dripping and dramatic, finished with crunchy croutons. This was neue deutsch.

Or, an homage to Piet Mondrian, a gridded plate of lamb, potato, and a tangy herb sauce topped with a grassy herb salad. Its rigid, Dutch borders belied its comforting, German appeal.

And playful too is the sommelier, Jürgen Giesel, who started our dinner with a taste of wine, served in black glasses. We were asked to guess the type and origin of the wine. My table mates went all over the world, but not to South Africa, whence this juice.

* * *

* * *

Elverfeld’s food is precise, German engineering at its finest. Every little detail was exact, every corner crimped; every pleat, pressed. Many of the service pieces were designed by Elverfeld, to ensure that his food, like little cigars of bienenstich (toasted almond and pastry cream), for example, would sit just so, and that cornettes of crab wouldn’t list or lean, soiling the magnificent tablecloth, woven to appear as if a million bubbles were surfacing on the tables at Aqua.

The meal started with a crowd of pretty canapés, a smattering of Germanic snacks, like currywurst, and konigsberger klopse (a Prussian meatball with white sauce), and “toast Hawa’ii,” a long-distance rendering of the tropics: pineapple, ham and cheese. It ended in similar fashion, with a refreshing cup of Beeren-muesli – essentially, yogurt and granola – and a parade of snacky sweets, like prinenrolle – a chocolate and biscuit club sandwich, if you will – and linzertorte – and other petits fours, including a chariot of bon bons to end all chariots of bon bons.

In between, there was a bit of this and bit of that, not all of which was entirely memorable, if I’m to be honest, although all of it was beautiful and tasty, like a cocotte of sweetbreads in a nutty sauce with potatoes and celery, and a landscape of foie gras and ham, tangy with Granny Smith apple purée and toasty with kernels of amaranth.

There was a formidable selection of cheeses; this was truly impressive. And a beautiful trompe l’oeil apple, a neue strüdel, if you will; that was fun and delicious.

But my two favorite dishes I’ve already noted above, that frozen cheese globe, and that Mondrian on a plate. These two have stayed with me the longest, despite having had the wind stolen from their sails a bit by meals I had earlier in the year.

That ball of handkäs? It was essentially that frozen balloon of Gorgonzola I had elBulli a month before, but using a different cheese, presented in a different size.

And that Piet Mondrian lamb dish? Carme Ruscalleda had already rendered that Dutch painting for me in a fairytale by the sea.

In a shrinking world, where culinary arts are overlapping and ideas are funneling at a phenomenal rate, I avoid debating derivation, or policing plagiarism. I’m simply not that expert.

But, if we are to examine the voice of neue deutsch and evaluate its contributions to the world, unique and significant, then I do think it’s important to take note of the references it makes, or claims for itself.

Doubt not, though, that Aqua is a high, German table that will fulfill the fanciest fantasies. If not for its precision, or its luxury (some of the most stunning stemware I’ve ever seen – they grew taller with each course, until we were left with an aperitif served in what seemed like a long-stem rose), or the hospitality you will surely find here, then at least for the flavors of Elverfeld’s neue deutsch, it’s worth considering.

* * *

5th Course: Glazed Calf's Sweetbreads

* * *

Here is our menu:

-

Canapés

“Toast Hawaii“
Cornet of Crabs from Busum
“VW-Currywurst“
Caramelized Kalamata Olive

Konigsberger Klopse
Baked Camembert with Cranberries

Tompinambour
Pumpkin Bread Chip
Pumpkin-Carrot “Exotic“

1st Course
“Handkas mit Musik“
Iced homage to my homeland.

Bruchkobeler Appelwol “süß-gespritzt”

2nd Course
Foie Gras and Marinated Iberico Ham
Onion tapioca, Granny Smith, and amaranth.

2008 Bernkasterler Doctor Riesling Spatlese, Vinery Dr. Thanisch, Mosel, Germany

3rd Course
Stewed Topside of Muritz Lamb
Frankfurter green sauce, potatoe & egg.

1995 Chateau Couhins Lurton Double Magnum, Passac-Leognan, Bordeaux

4th Course
Glazed Calf’s Sweetbreads
Nuts butter, mushrooms, celery, potato.

1995 Chateau Couhins Lurton Double Magnum, Passac-Leognan, Bordeaux

5th Course
Langoustine & Charcoal-Grilled Belly of Young Pork
Bulls heart tomato, crustacean mayonnaise, balsamico emulsion. ‘

2007 Pinot Noir, Vinery Himmeroderhof, Mosel, Germany

6th Course
Red Deer Calf from the Altmark Region
Parsley, vineyard peach, and chicory.

2007 Blaufrankisch Rusterberg

7th Course
A Selection of Cheeses

8th Course
“Apple Strudel“

2006 Chateau de Fargues, Sauternes, France

Petits Fours
Bienestich
Prinenrolle
Linzertorte
Carrot Pie & Ginger Ale
Milk Chocolate & Rosemary Caramel

Greek Yogurt
Fig, honey, & vanilla vinegar.

Chariot of Bon Bons

-

* * *

Aqua
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg
Parkstraße 1
38440 Wolfsburg, Deutschland

*** Michelin

UlteriorEpicure.com -

VeryGoodFood.dk - Trine
When Precision Engineering meets Passion

When Precision Engineering meets Passion

This summer I had the immense pleasure of expanding my knowledge about German high-end restaurants. During a five-day drive from Berlin to Westphalen, I visited two places that both confirmed what too many northerners don’t realize: Germany is more than a freeway. To many Danes, Germany is nothing more than the thing surrounding the Autobahn and German cuisine is bratwurst and knödel. Those people have no idea what hidden gourmet gems they are missing, going with 160 kph right past them, as they blast through this huge and exciting country.

Ironically, one of these treasures are situated in the midst of what made Germany the automotive centre of Europe: The immense Volkswagen factories in Wolfsburg. It’s Sven Elverfeld’s three Michelin stars restaurant Aqua at the Ritz-Carlton.

For full disclosure I must state that I was invited to Aqua by the Ritz-Carlton and Sven Elverfeld.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel with the VW-chimneys in the back

The outdoor spa with view to the VW factory

The Ritz-Carlton hotel was built for the Autostadt back in 2000 and its style is international: Modern and classy, best described as understated luxury. The Ritz-Carlton is situated within Autostad and the surrounding area is a funny mix of pre-war industrial buildings (very cool) and postmodernist steel-and-glass architecture (less cool). The lawns around the hotel are among the best groomed ones I’ve ever seen, some of them constantly being mowed by robot lawn movers. I wouldn’t call the theme park pretty as such, but somehow the style seems to fit the fact that Wolfsburg is a very young city, solely existing because of the giant VW factories.

Veal with scallop and pea’s soup – very good lunch snack at The Grill

We arrived at lunch time and after settling in and having enjoyed a light snack at The Grill restaurant, we went out to explore the Autostadt park, the pavilions and the museums.

A short note about the Autostadt as a whole, if you like cars it’s a fun place to visit. The most exciting parts of it definitely were the VW museum featuring an amazing collection of automotive milestones, the Bugatti Veyron pavillion – simply because it houses a chromed Veyron – and the 4×4 parkour track, where an instructor can teach you how to master a 4×4 in terrain. The brand pavillions, on the other hand, are not worth the trip on their own.

Still, a car theme park seems a curious place to put a three star Michelin restaurant. The German families picking up their VW at Autostadt certainly are not among the clientel as The Ritz-Carlton is not an inexpensive place to stay. But I guess enough business people and executives must be moving through this city to provide a sound market for a five-star hotel and a three star Michelin restaurant.


Sven Elverfeld

A few minutes before the evening service begins… the kitchen is eerily calm.

Chef de cuisine Sven Elverfeld with sous-chef Jan Hartwig

Anyway, the main purpose of this visit was not to gaze at cars, but to meet Sven Elverfeld and experience his cuisine. Chef Elverfeld focuses on flavours and strives to invoke memories with the diner. In that way Elverfeld’s philosophy reminds me of that of Heston Blumenthal: The eternal quest of forming modern dishes from childhood memories. He lets himself be inspired by everything from a carrot in a field to flavours he has encountered on his travels to Japan or Dubai for example. He told me that he always carries a pen and a notebook – and even puts it under his pillow at night – to be sure to capture every stroke of idea that springs to mind.

After a chat with Sven we were given a tour of his kitchen. Contrary to some high-end kitchens I’ve experienced, this seemed almost stress-free. Concentration was high, but it was quiet – staff working focused and without any shouting or rushing. Like I imagine an Audi factory floor: Meticulous and precise. Very German, in a cool way.

And then it was time for dinner.

Caramelized Kalanata olives

Crispy cornet of salad nicoise, veal tartar & herb cream roll and Asian salmon cream, sesame, wasabi & nori cornet

Soup shots

Beetroot gazpacho & olive oil, rosemary-paprika chip and parmesan and a courgette-mint soup & white tomato foam

Spoon tasting of crayfish, pattaya mango, vinegar carrots, sorrel & Passe Pierre

Cauliflower, trout caviar & white chocolate

The dinner was initiated with a fireworks of nibbles and tastings to wake up the palate. They were all tasty as well as entertaining and served on tableware designed by Elverfeld himself and laser-cut from clear polycarbonate, making the amuse bouches seem to hover just above the white table cloth.

1989 Dom Brial, Riversaltes Ambre, Roussillion, France

Foie gras, Coffee, cherries, yogurt & hazelnut

By the first course I was blown away. I love, love foie gras, terrine especially, and here it was accompanied by coffee and hazelnut. These ingredients are almost born to be together as the flavours just match each other perfectly and performed a smooth candy-like taste balanced with acidity from the cherries and the yogurt. I just loved this dish.

2009 Cöllner Rosenberg, Weigut Hahnmühle, Nahe, Germany

Brittany sardine, Melon & Joselito Jamón Ibérico

Mediterranean flavours were dominating this dish with a very delicate sardine, subtle ham and sweet notes from the melon. All in all, it was a light and refreshing intermezzo after the intense foie gras dish.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Quarz, Cantina Terlan, Terlan, Italy

Char & caviar from Tainach, Turnip, dill & sorrel

Simple, beautiful, tasty. The flavours of the delicate and perfectly cooked char, the turnip, the tainach caviare and the herbs formed a very creamy and harmonious taste. One of the highlights.

2009 Pinot Gris, Huba Szeremley, Badacsonyi, Hungary

Snails from Odenwald, Watercress, mild garlic & fried egg

The snails were amongst the very best I’ve ever had in my life. They weren’t chewy as snails often can get if they are not cooked to perfection. The dish as a whole was delicious but almost too rich to my taste, the egg adding to the creamy texture – it somehow lacked a counterpart or something that could provide more character to fire it up. In comparison with all the other dishes it appeared somewhat anonymous.

2009 Spätburgunder Assmanshäuser Höllenberg Weingut August Kesseler, Rheingau, Germany

Langoustine & charcoal grilled belly of young pork

Bulls heart tomato, crustacean mayonnaise, balsamic emulsion

The langoustine and pork dish really surprised me – not least by its looks. Typically the langoustine play the leading role in a dish but in this picture it was on par along with the others ingredients. The pork had a vinegar-like note to it which added freshness, there was crunch from the pork crisp it all completely worked and was new and inspiring to me.


2005 Chateau Couhins-Lurton, Bordeaux

Stewed topside of Müritz lamb
Frankfurter green sauce, potato & quail egg yolk

This is a signature dish of Sven’s and justifiably so. Just look at it – it’s a Bauhaus-like work of art. The Frankfurter green sauce in the middle surrounded by the potato on the right and the lamb on the left. The traditional dish doesn’t comprise the lamb, that’s Sven’s addition to the dish and it came together wonderfully. Looks simple but really isn’t and it was outstanding because of its perfect balance. Where Germans are reminded of the famous green sauce, to me this dish recalled memories of a Danish classic – the skibberlabskovs – a dish with meat, potatoes and herbs.

2006 Wieninger Trilogie, Weingut Winninger, Vienna, Austria

Wagyu beef
Broccoli & Imperial caviar

Now, this dish didn’t resemble anything I’ve tried before, but it was stunning. The way that all the tiny broccoli seeds were beautifully sprinkled in the broth made a tangent to the caviar on top of the Wagyu beef. Raw beef coated the cooked beef inside and the caviar added salt and pulled out more flavours of the meat. Combining luxury produce like caviar and Wagyu beef with the mondain brocolli may seem strange, but it worked so well.

Grand Vintage Rosé 2000 Moët & Chandon

Champagne cream sorbet

This nineteen-ninety style cleanser is an old tradition from the grand opening of Aqua. We were told that the dish is served mostly as a tribute to regulars. How long the sorbet will stay on the menu is uncertain as the stock of Grand Vintage Rosé 2000 Moët & Chandon is drying out. It was a great sorbet, but I certainly can think of better ways of enjoying a 2000 Grand Vintage. It was a fun trip back to posher times before the financial crisis though.

1998 Opus One Robert Mondavi & Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Napa Valley, California – Cult wine

Venison from the region Altmark
Lettuce, medlar, almonds, potatoes

O yummy. The quality of the venison was just superb and full of flavour with only a slight gamey touch. The small potato cubes were light and crunchy. A classic dish but – again – perfectly executed.

2005 Chateau Fargues, Sauternes, France

Rhubarb, yogurt & woodruff

A stunning dessert of rhubarb and woodruff, both of which I love, offered freshness and sweetness in a perfect balance. A very delicious and completely satisfying dish.

After the rhubarb dessert followed a sweet finale, styled like the amuse bouches as to mark the end of a circle. It comprised

Three kinds of sorbet – lychee, pineapple, avocado,
Liquorice-marshmallow, lemon, dill & fennel,
Caramelized raspberry & caramelized gooseberry,
Apple, goat curd & cassis
Yogurette

With the coffee, which we decided to take in the Newman’s bar, came the pralines.

What a journey. Sven is a great guy and it’s clear that he is committed and truly passionate about his cooking and his restaurant, and constantly develops and refines his own modern take on fine dining.

Compliments to sommelier Jürgen Giesel, who set this intriguing wine pairing with often quite aromatic wines and wines that I hadn’t tried before like e.g. the Riversaltes, the Hungarian Pinot Gris and the delicious Opus One, just to mention a few.

Sometimes fine hotel restaurants can appear slightly worn or less creative, maybe due to the fact that they are a part of a larger machinery. This is not the case of Aqua. The vision and style of the Ritz-Carlton and the one of Aqua matches each other really well, almost like as a kind of symbiosis. I liked that.

Also, the memory of the stay at The Ritz-Carlton and the dinner at Aqua will always be the one of an extraordinary experience full of warmth, wit and dedication. The service – both at the hotel and in the restaurant – was outstanding. Always on top of things and ready to assist in any way, thanks to maitre d’ Jimmy Ledemazel.

Someone once told me that the difference between the Ritz-Carlton and other lux-hotels is the people. Based on this one experience, I must concur. Sometimes, striving for luxury tends to take the soul out of a place. Anyone can do valet parking, room service and huge suites – some also combine this with high-end food. But only a few places manage to wrap this entire package into personality and warmth, substituting arrogance and snobbery with genuine, down-to-earth care.

Bravo! And thank you so much to Sven, Jürgen, Jimmy – and of course to our lovely hostess Daniela!

VeryGoodFood.dk - Trine

 

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