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Image 1: Schloss Schauenstein is one of those restaurants that really require a special journey. Our trip began with a flight to Zurich the night before and continued our drive the first thing next morning.
Image 2: The journey wasn't smooth at all with low visibility due to the terrible weather. It took us nearly 3 hours to arrive in Fürstenau.
Image 3: Once we arrived in this small town, there was no trouble in finding the restaurant as there was only one street in this town.
Image 4: Beautiful garden, beautiful castle and beautiful surrounding scenery! It was in this 800-years old castle where the young chef Andreas Caminada rose to fame in just a short few years!
Image 5: Receiving his first Michelin star in 2007, the second star in 2008, Gault-Millau "Chef of the Year" in 2010, along with the appearance on 50Best and the ultimate third star!
Image 6: We walked up the stairs and looked back to the garden before we pushed open the huge wooden door.
Image 8: Scoring a reservation here is not easy as this is the smallest restaurant on the 50Best with a team of five in the kitchen covering about just 6 or 7 tables for lunch and a few more for dinner. Closing more than 2mths a year doesn't help either!
Image 10: Even with our 3-hour drive, we were still slightly too early giving us a chance to relax a bit at the bar upstairs.
Image 13: We were quite impressed by this place itself!
Image 14: There is also a cigar bar right across.
Image 16: We didn't mind spending more time in the bar, but since we were so looking forward to this meal, once the clock hit noon, we left our drinks in the bar and went straight downstairs to the dining room.
Image 17: A young but professional white gloved staff laid down our silverware and napkin as we arrived.
Image 18: Our table was immediately filled with attractive treats!
Image 19: Our experience began with an intense floral fragrance from this tall glass. A ball of foie gras on elderflower cream. Wow, a seductive start!
Image 20: The manager told us that Andreas actually started his career as a pastry chef! This was Andreas' take on churros, a Spanish sweet fried dough usually dipped in latte or hot chocolate, but savoury version was served. Warm pastry with crispy skin, it was one of those snacks that I would want to have all the time. Very addictive!
Image 21: Seaweed cracker topped with tomato, smoked char, and a tiny cube of mozzarella
Image 22: The amuse bouche kept on coming and they hadn’t even provided us the menu yet. Loved it!
Image 23: In a highball glass was tapioca and onion covered in parmesan foam. Tapioca is quite a versatile ingredient. I experienced it often in dessert but it worked very well as a savoury element too.
Image 24: Chilled gazpacho was a good refreshment before the meal, but the croûton was very greasy.
Image 25: We noticed there was a black cardholder on the table for each one of us.
Image 26: For each course, the server would place a card outlining the main ingredients of that course. It reminded us of Steirereck where Chef Reitbauer was doing this years ago with much more details and even including some historical facts about some ingredients!
Image 27: They then brought us a black pyramid looking item.
Image 28: It was actually fresh warm bread. I liked this bread bag. It had a magnetic top so that you could easily close it after ripping out a piece of bread, keeping the remaining warm. I appreciated the level of attention to detail here!
Image 29: And butter of course.
Image 30: Hard to believe there were more surprises. A langoustine 3-way as amuse bouche!
Image 31: Grilled langoustine accompanied by a short circular stack of basil foam behind
Image 32: Tartare of langoustine
Image 33: And a shotglass of jelly with a piece of cured langoustine covered by lime-yuzi cream.
Image 34: Served with ink crackers, bringing in crunchiness to this langoustine amuse bouche. Very labour-intensive cooking here!
Image 35: Is this crazy or what? Yes, more amuse bouche! Trout, beetroot, and cauliflower - the trout was barely cooked; the beetroot had two preparations -- marinated beetroot and thin beetroot crisp;
Image 36: and the cauliflower also had two preparations -- a crunchy "cous cous" version and a mousse version. The pulps of grapefruit were fun, giving burst of bitterness, but also a distraction to the mild trout flavour!
Image 37: Not joking, there was one more amuse bouche. Maybe Andreas wanted to show his appreciation for us coming from far away! In any case, it didn’t bother us as this turned out to be the most memorable dish of the meal - Ham! Again, two preparations - ham transformed into foam...
Image 38: ... and a beignet version, just like a deep-fried ball. It was served with a mustard ice cream and vinaigrette. Not only was it a sophisticated dish, the concentrated flavour of ham and the powerful chilled mustard ice cream balanced very well, while the cabbage salad provided the texture component to the dish! Incredible and creative cooking!
Image 39: We felt like we already had a full tasting menu from the extravagant amuse bouche. Finally, our first course arrived, a foie-gras 3-way: first, a quenelle of foie gras ice cream with yogurt snow; second, a terrine of foie gras topped with chocolate;
Image 40: And third, foie gras crème brûlée! Interesting, so the first course was ice cream, chocolate, and crème brûlée - Andreas' love for dessert is obvious!
Image 41: The piece of sweet apricot as the acidic component was wisely chosen as it brought a gradual fruity-sweetness to the rich foie. A truly wonderful course! It's amazing that such a small kitchen team can deliver that many highly complex dishes!
Image 42: The next course was all about the tuna and cucumber combination. Seared tuna with cucumber relish; marinated tuna tartare with avocado cucumber cream; tuna and cucumber rolls…
Image 43: … and a refreshing cucumber foamy soup with a tuna cube floating on top. It was enlightening to see how much one could do with the same ingredient!
Image 44: A beef dish composed of beef, egg, potato, and chanterelle. The beef tartare really lacked seasoning.
Image 45: The beef carpaccio on quail egg was nicely done with runny yolk, but a touch of salt was clearly missing.
Image 46: The best part was the potato brûlée covered with chanterelle!
Image 47: One of the two main seafood courses - Breton lobster decorated with pickled carrot and carrot purée. The meat from the claw was resting on a slice of watermelon which I found unpleasant.
Image 49: The moist meat was superb by itself; the juicy sweet watermelon was also lovely by itself; but not together unfortunately, especially after the watermelon was soaked with the sauce. For the lobster tail, it was fresh but the texture could have been better. Maybe it was pre-cooked earlier that morning or maybe the timing was not precisie enough.
Image 50: One more seafood before the meat - halibut garnished with fried onion accompanied by leek, peas, pok choi, and tarragon cream finished with beurre blanc. We all had the same reaction when we tasted the beurre blanc - way overdosed of salt! Halibut is never my favourite fish as it's too meaty a fish!
Image 51: We had the lamb as our main course. Though it was cooked almost medium well, it was still very tender. Again, multiple preparations, this time on tomato - dried, confit, and raw, along with some cute rolls of pepper. The overall combination of this dish was so so.
Image 52: The side dish of whipped potato dusted with chili pepper was spectacular. This mashed potato was very foamy. For such a big meal, we were glad that they served such a light side dish!
Image 53: Not a surprise that the cheese course was as elaborate! A selection of top quality cheese from various Swiss regions - Andeerer's Dream; Val Lumnezia 2010 and 2008; formagella, and Suferser goat cheese.
Image 54: Each was paired with a condiment - salsiz, a Swiss smoked sausage; fig & mustard; cranberries; raisin & mustard; and tapenade.
Image 55: And for dessert, strawberry and raspberry. Of course in various preparations - strawberry sorbet…
Image 56: … marinated raspberry, strawberry meringue, stuffed raspberry, hazelnut biscuit, and mascarpone chocolate. We were absolutely full at that point!
Image 57: We took a break before the petits-fours to check out some hotel rooms upstairs. They only have a few rooms so booking a room is as difficult as booking a table here.
Image 58: Each room has a totally different style.
Image 61: We realised the terrible weather has totally disappeared.
Image 62: So we decided to have our tea and petits-fours on the terrace to take advantage of the surrounding scenery.
Image 63: And Andrea even came out to meet some guests.
Image 64: We knew they wouldn't let the meal end without an elaborate petits-fours. Chocolate mousse, chocolate macaron, passion fruit & mango, and a shotglass of cherry panna cotta.
Image 65: A variety of ganache
Image 66: … and lollies and marshmallow
Image 67: … and coco dusted nuts
Image 68: … and finally a set of colourful fruit jello cubes.
Image 69: Sophisticated cuisine in an exquisite place! It was a long menu with many great courses to compensate the slight disappointment of the main fish and the main meat course. Maybe not for the food alone, but the whole experience is worth a special journey, an expensive special journey though!