Food: New German cuisine/French cuisine
Address: Ritz-Carlton, Parkstraße 1, 38440 Wolfsburg, Germany
Phone Number: +49 (0) 5361 606056
Guide Michelin: 3 stars
What I paid: 340 € (tasting menu per person including aperitif, wine pairing and water)
Visited: March 26, 2015
The 3-stars restaurant Aqua is located in the less expected setting of Wolfsburg, the industrial hub of Volkswagen. The VW’s area is called Autostadt and is among other things the world’s largest car delivery center, but has also become an excursion destination though both art, culture, technology and design is on show in many different exhibitions present in the 28 hectares parkland. Most notable is the Zeithaus and the eight pavilions showing all the brands housed in the VW group, e.g. Audi, Lamborghini and Porsche.
My main reason for visiting Wolfsburg was not to attend any Autostadt exhibitions etc., but to have dinner at Aqua, situated in the Ritz-Carlton hotel, located on the upper west corner of the theme park (that houses ten additional restaurants itself). That said, if you’re in Wolfsburg so is Autostadt with its exhibitions definitely worth a visit. From the five-star hotel you have a notably view of the original 1930’s VW Kraftwerk (and behind this power station are the current VW manufacturing factories, but they are not visible from the Autostadt).
Aqua and the Ritz-Carlton opened in 2000. Sven Elverfeld that has been the head chef all the time, started his career as a pastry chef (konditor) and has trained for Dieter Müller, among others. Chef Elverfeld is portrayed as a passionate deconstructivist and re-inventor of “plain” German cuisine. The kitchen dismantles and reassembles German peasant food and guests visiting the restaurant can expect avant-garde cooking.
Aqua gained its first star in for the 2002 guide (i.e. announced late of 2001), a second star for the 2006 guide and the ultimate third star for the 2009 guide.
As of visiting Aqua, the restaurant had two tasting menus with a number of different options:
- 4 courses a 160 € (with wine pairing, an additional 95 €)
- 5 courses a 170 € (with wine pairing, an additional 95 €)
- 6 courses a 185 € (with wine pairing, an additional 115 €)
- 7 courses a 200 € (with wine pairing, an additional 135 €)
- 6 courses a 185 € (with wine pairing, an additional 115 €)
- 8 courses a 215 € (with wine pairing, an additional 155 €)
- 9 courses a 230 € (with wine pairing, an additional 175 €)
We opted for the 6-course VISIONS menu together with the wine pairing:
- Kalamata olive:
- Tacos – Tatar „Chili con carne” / „Ceviche” Sea bass & cactus:
All nibbles were good and I especially enjoyed the „Ceviche” Sea bass & cactus Tacos.
- Soup shots – Kefir, yellow beetroot & dill / Red cabbage & spiced apple:
The beetroot- and red cabbage shots were good, but not particularly special. The snack made of dried yellow beetroot was the best part of this amusement.
- Our chicken burger „Tandoori“:
One of the participants of the dinner really enjoyed this mini burger, but personally I think it was a notch to mushy,
- Yellow fin mackerel, guacamole, smoked corn foam & black quinoa:
This dish (pictured above) does not look that good but I liked it, but we all had problems identifying the mackerel taste.
Three different breads were served and I especially enjoyed two of them a lot.
- Tatar of beef & sardine
Marinated black radish, coriander, miso, yuzu & burdock root:
I particularly appreciate the tartness that yuzu gave this tartare dish.
- River trout from Luneburg Heath
Smoked brandade, Granny Smith, horseradish & toast:
The river trout was one of the highlights for all of us this dinner.
- Sweetbread & Périgord truffle
The black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) is harvested in late autumn and winter. I am not sure if we were a little bite late in the season in regards to the truffles accompanying this dish though I did not identify a lot of the the typical truffle taste. Still a very good dish.
- Champagne cream sorbet
“Edition Ruinart Rosé”:
The Champagne cream sorbet is a classic Aqua dish. However, even though I liked it, it had a hint of bitterness that none of us liked.
- Freeland chicken from the region Wattenheim – cooked in olive oil
Lemon, parsley, tomato, olive, feta cheese, cucumber, oregano & lettuce:
A good and balanced dish.
- Ganache of white chocolate „Opalys“ with black tea
Fig & bergamot:
A nice dish were I again appreciated the tartness present (this time originating from bergamot).
- Banana, sea buckthorn & saffron:
Well balanced and a very nice dessert.
- Quince, chestnut & rosehip:
- Macaron „Jaffa“ – orange & Manjari chocolate:
A good little orange- and chocolate macaron ended the dessert section of the menu.
The petit fours consisted of a wide variety of pralines, of which I selected four pieces. All very tasty!
In summary: Aqua is a sold 3-stars restaurant well worth a visit (or should I say a journey to use the Guide Michelin’s language). That said, for people living outside of Germany I would probably recommend to visit Aqua in combination with some other “activity”. For me, Berlin is quite a natural choice, though it to start with is a city well worth a visit on its own merits. Berlin has also lot of international flight alternatives and you could reach Wolfsburg easily with an express train in a little bit over an hour.
I liked most dishes served but did not adore all of them. In contrast to many other high profile chefs, Sven Elverfeld is not running an empire of restaurants and is not doing tons of televisions shows etc. Instead chef Elverfeld is present in his restaurant (which sadly is not true for many other famous chefs) and this is something I value. Sven Elverfeld did also visit all tables in the restaurant which I also appreciate. Unfortunately I did not ask to visit the kitchen.
We went with the wine pairing and even though I am not always that keen with this option I really liked most of the wines served. However, I forgot to ask for a list of the wines served but hopefully I can ask for this in hindsight though some of the wines were really interesting (and good…). Highly recommended!