I think it’s safe to say that we have all had a rough past year and a half. The real cherry on top for me was celebrating my 30th birthday two months into the lockdown. I had high hopes for that milestone the year prior, making plans for a big road trip to visit friends in other states. Instead, I spent the day eating take-out Chinese food and a slice of ice cream cake from Dairy Queen at home with my husband and our cats. I was thankful that we had each other, but 30 is just one of those celebrations you really look forward to (or not, depending on who you are).
This year, however, we decided to go all out for our special days. And so, for my husband’s 35th, we visited a Michelin star restaurant in Germany, where we are currently living. And it did not disappoint.
A Brief History
I must admit before I dove into the hospitality world, I didn’t really have a clue what Michelin stars were, who had them, or why – it all seemed so foreign to me. “As with all great inventions that changed the course of history, the MICHELIN Guide didn’t start out as the iconic dining guide it turned out to be today”, according to the Michelin Guide.
As a matter of fact, the Michelin Guide got its start when brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin founded the famous tire company in 1889. They put together a small red guide providing travelers with helpful information such as maps, how to change a tire, and where to find fuel. Then in 1920, they introduced restaurant and hotel lists to the guide. In response to the growing interest of the restaurant section, the brothers recruited restaurant inspectors and began awarding stars in 1926. Ten years later, the criteria for the awarded ranking stars were published.
As it was my first visit to a Michelin star restaurant, it’s difficult to compare my experience to anything else, even with several years of experience working in fine dining establishments. I went in with the mindset of it being an “experience”, and sure enough, it truly was.
Being that it was in Germany, I was somewhat surprised to be greeted with an English menu, as well as all the staff speaking perfect English, even while describing the most specific of ingredients and wine pairings. As native English speakers, we are truly lucky to have the convenience of communicating across cultures. It was also lovely to be greeted by name, which is something unique to this level of establishment.
We chose the full 7-course menu and wine pairings, and it goes without saying that we were thoroughly impressed, especially with the attention to detail. Everything from the service to the dinnerware itself was carefully orchestrated, and I took notice. The dishes were equally as delicious as they were beautiful, and after a four-hour dinner, we left satisfied but not overly full – due to the smaller portion sizes.
It was also my first experience with Amuse Bouche and Petit Fours, of which I dare say, were my favorite dishes of the whole experience. Amuse Bouche refers to the extra bites that appear before or during the meal, that are not included on the menu but included in the price. And Petit Fours are the sweet bites presented after the desert course, given as a final taste of the restaurant after paying the bill.
Something else that I feel that I must pay homage to was the décor. Truly, I felt like royalty – it was stunning. Not only that, but I felt very comfortable, which I imagine is also a testament to the high quality of service.
Now, I don’t want to say that our experience was perfect as everyone’s tastes and preferences differ, but all in all, it was quite a memorable experience, and I would certainly consider another visit in the future.
If you have not yet experienced a Michelin star quality establishment, I strongly suggest that you treat yourself to one – perhaps for your next birthday.