No howling about the wolves' cave for us
A wolves’ cave may not sound too inviting a place for a restaurant, it is however what the name of one-star Michelin restaurant Wolfshöhle in Freiburg im Breisgau means. The name derives either from the howling wolves that were roaming around town in medieval times or from the howling wind that blew (and blows) from the Höllental (Hell’s valley) in the Black Forest towards Freiburg. Both stories may just be legendary, even so the name stuck to the old monumental building in one of the prettiest parts of old town Freiburg where Sascha Weiss is cooking his way up.
Since two years the proud holder of a Michelin star, Weiss and his team seem to have remained down-to-earth. As one of his staff members told us, they treasure their casual look with jeans and bright-colored sneakers and informal but friendly manners, and they keep on focusing on their clientele’s happiness and on being a good employer. As far as we are concerned, they are succeeding.
The Saturday afternoon we visited, we choose the 35-euro, three-course lunch menu. The alternatives were à la carte or a surprise menu, which had to be, quite literally, a surprise. Our friendly and talkative waiter couldn’t even lift a corner of the veil. A surprise has to remain a surprise, doesn’t it? But since we prefer to know what we get, we settled for the lunch menu, which, as it unfolded, was a very good choice.
After a demitasse of sauerkraut soup, served as an appetizer, our first course came through: small cubes of knuckle of veal, with celeriac, carrot, pine nuts and sherry jelly, and subtly seasoned with some clove. We enjoyed the generous use of vegetables.
Our main consisted of a perfectedly cooked piece of halibut with a pesto of pumpkin seeds, a pumpkin crème, green cabbage and an excellent beurre blanc: a dish with attractive orange and green colour contrasts and a well conceived mix of salty with mildy sweet (pumpkin crème), bitter (cabbage) and acidic tones (beurre blanc). Truly satisfying!
Halibut, Pumpkin seeds, Cabbage, Pumpkin crème and Beurre blanc
Dessert was a double bill. There was a bowl of crème brûlée with an exactly right crispy and caramelly crust. In another bowl we got a scoop of hazelnut ice cream (superb nutty flavor, not too sweet) with caramelized apples and a shard of a spicy cookie.
Wolfshöhle’s quite extensive winelist (roughly 50% regional and German, 35% France, Italy and Spain and 15% rest of the world) contained some outstanding names (Dr. Heger, Chapoutier, Aalto, Elena Walch), but most of their wines remained under 100 euro per bottle. Our waiter offered us to open a bottle of our choice, and charge only what we would drink. However, its concise list of open wines featured two wines from wineries that we already new and wanted to explore further. Because I liked Lämmlin-Schindler’s Spätburgunder so much at last year’s Müllheimer Weinmarkt, we decided to try a glass of their Merlot. Perhaps it wasn’t the ideal combination with the veal, it confirmed that Lämmlin-Schindler is a good producer. With the halibut we had a glass of Pinot Noir rosé from Salwey, one of the better wineries in the nearby scenic Kaiserstuhl area. With this glass we weren’t disappointed either.
Hazelnut ice cream and Crème Brûlée
Eating at Wolfshöhle made an impression that lasted longer than the moment we stepped out of their door again. Three days after our lunch at Wolfshöhle we spontaneously reminded each other how much we had enjoyed the food and service. The price-quality ratio is exemplary, the dishes were without exception very good and the service was attentive, open and friendly. No howling about the wolves’ cave for us!
Konviktstrasse 8 – Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany)
+49 (0) 761 30303
three-course lunch menu: € 35,-
three to seven-course surprise menu: € 60,- – 115,-
To do before or after: Visit the Saturday morning market on Münsterplatz and peek in at the elaborately carved pink sandstone cathedral.
Why?: The Münster has Germany’s oldest medieval gothic church tower. One of its bells, named Hosanna, is from 1258. The lively market sells lots of fresh local produce.