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Rising from the ashes

Rising from the ashes

One of Europe’s best restaurants is reborn after a devastating fire

Words by Ute Junker

Photos supplied

There was always something special about the Schwarzwaldstube. One of Europe’s most celebrated restaurants, set in the picturesque Black Forest village of Baiersbronn, the Schwarzwaldstube has long been considered Germany’s flagship fine dining restaurant.

Holding three Michelin stars for almost three decades – with revered chef Harald Wohlfahrt at the helm for most of that time – the Schwarzwaldstube was a place where meals were delivered on sleek silver trolleys and each new bottle of water was accompanied by a fresh glass. Yet this was not a stuffy experience – far from it.

When I last dined there, one of my favourite dishes was Pyrenean lamb served with a pool of aromatic sauce. As I finished my last slice of meat – with plenty of sauce left over – a waiter appeared at my elbow and offered me some more bread to go with the sauce. I mopped up the sauce with gusto, whereupon he reappeared and asked, “Madam, can I bring you some more sauce to go with your bread?”

The Schwarzwaldstube was such an institution, few could imagine it every disappearing. Yet that is what happened on the night of January 5, 2020, when a fire burned down not just the Schwarzwaldstube but also its sister restaurant, the one-star Köhlerstube, also part of the Hotel Traube Tonbach.

The Finkbeiner family, owners of the 230-year-old hotel, wasted no time. By May that year they had opened a new structure, known as the “temporaire”, atop the parking garage, which served as an interim home for both restaurants until their new buildings were unveiled in April 2022. Temporaire welcomed more than 10,000 guests in its lifespan, and both restaurants retained their respective stars.

The Schwarzwaldstube promises to be as memorable in its new incarnation as in the old. The new building – with its pre-aged larch wood singles, designed to blend into the surroundings – features eight-mere high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic forest views.

The menu includes dishes such as lightly-poached Gillardeau oysters with spring leek and a light oyster nage with rice vinegar and pigeon cooked with licorice and lemon thyme, served with glazed apricots and pigeon jus spiked with Arabica coffee, juniper and black lime. Vegetarians can look forward to dishes such as fennel confit and bacalhau, with beet bottarga and fennel velouté.

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