Au Quai is located on one of the darkest and less inviting corners of Grosse Elbstrasse. At least this is the impression one gets from the outside. By chance, one passes by here rather rarely. All the more amazing is the wonderful view of the Elbe and the harbor, which is offered from the inside through the large, floor-to-ceiling panorama windows in the guest room and, of course, also from the terrace.
“In the classic refrigerated warehouse converted by renowned Hamburg architects, Restaurant Au Quai presents itself with Franco-Italian sophistication that meets the highest standards” the 2011 Location Award-winning restaurant (or event location) lets itself be quoted as saying.
Now, the definition of the highest culinary standards is, of course, a very individual one. And in our case, unfortunately, the claims did not quite live up to reality. Overall, the evening left us a bit irritated. Although there was really no shortage of service staff, we initially stood in the entrance area for quite a while waiting for a table or at least some kind of address. After we had to wait again for the table to be set and our aperitif, the pace changed abruptly after we ordered. The ordered dishes were served much too quickly one after the other. And also the coordination of the speech was not really perfect. After we were not asked at first about our satisfaction, four different colleagues suddenly and in quick succession inquired about the overall situation at our table: Yes, quite ok, all in all – making use of the tired play on words that can be found in the evaluations on Qype and Tripadvisor in the meantime for the Au Quai…
After a little greeting from the kitchen, I started with a duet of tuna & king prawn with white spice chocolate cream, chili jam and shiso cress. The most eye-catching part of this combination was certainly the white chocolate cream, which went surprisingly well with the tuna. At the same time, however, this was the only really positive aspect. The fish was cold throughout and did not offer the expected play between hot crust and cool core. The shrimp was exactly what you wouldn’t want, which is to say rather mealy and significantly overcooked.
For my main course, I chose the tantalizing-sounding Braised Iberico Suckling Pig Cheeks with Cranberry, Rosemary, Parsley Root and Pata Negra Chips. And unfortunately, light and shadow were also close, but clearly perceptible next to each other here. The texture of the cheeks was fabulous and testified to a long, intesive cooking process. Also visually as you would imagine them. But, a deceptive image: no heavy roasted flavors, no intense, strong crust – but flavorfully extraordinary and completely unexpectedly limp. A suckling pig cheek almost for the senior plate. Too bad.
The lush vegetable garnishes and wonderfully matched Cabernet Sauvignon mellowed me out, while across the table the goat cheese ravioli, basil espuma, dried Ligurian olives & red pesto were consumed.
It wasn’t a bad evening, though that couldn’t be attributed solely to the culinary qualities of Au Quai. However, restaurant manager Carine Patricio kept an impeccable and very sympathetic eye on the essentials even in the visibly busier environment.
Maybe we will come back in the summer when you can enjoy the view on the terrace. Possibly to then taste the bouillabaisse of fish & shellfish….