Kochfreunde.com is the culinary magazine of Oliver Wagner. Here, everything revolves around the almost most beautiful thing in the world: good food. The focus ranges from reports on exciting restaurants to recipes from his own kitchen, cookbooks and culinary gadgets.


Kochfreunde.com ist das kulinarisches Magazin von Oliver Wagner. Hier dreht sich alles rund um die beinahe schönste Sache der Welt: Gutes Essen. Dabei reicht der Fokus von Berichten über spannende Restaurants bis hin zu Rezepten aus der eigenen Küche, Kochbücher und kulinarische Gadgets.

Restaurant Haerlin, Hamburg

The Haerlin restaurant in the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten currently marks the pinnacle of Hamburg’s starred gastronomy. Anyone who doubts this should take a look at the reconfirmed second star in the Guide Michelin or the 19 points awarded by Gault Millau for 2015 – and at the same time Christoph Rüffer was named Chef of the Year.

Even better: you leave all the gray theory aside and get your own picture of Christoph Rüffer’s and Christian Hümbs’ cuisine.

That evening, you could tell the boss was slightly exhausted during the conversation. Certainly an echo of the well-deserved festivities of the previous evening. There was a lot of celebration. After all, the award for Gault Millau Chef of the Year is not received every day. But there was still cause for celebration that evening. My birthday, for example.

And so we started with an exceptional champagne, which is so rather rarely found in the open bar: A 1996 Dom Pérignon Oenotheque.

The guest at Haerlin has the choice between two different menus: Flavor Treatment and Palate Party (each as a 6 course menu for 155€ or in 4 courses for 115€). We essentially decided to go with both options, with slight modifications.

The event kicked off with a number of delicious amuses, served in two courses.

Duck liver & crab, oyster & green mango, celery yogurt and nut butter.
Duck liver & crab, oyster & green mango, celery yogurt and nut butter.
Sturgeon tartar with black salsify espuma, lime vinaigrette & iced sesame leaf
Sturgeon tartar
with black salsify espuma,
Lime vinaigrette & iced sesame leaf

The kitchen not only greeted, but directly showed which direction the journey should take. Clear, product-focused, fresh and with an excellent combination of flavors.
For the sweetheart, who already asked for a rather vegetarian menu when making the reservation, the amouse were kindly slightly modified. Instead of duck liver, a great aromatic couscous was served. However, this also remained the only vegetarian excursion, no other dish in both menus was vegetarian, no alternative was offered. This is a point of criticism, because we had already pointed out this fact weeks ago.

I then started the actual menu with the foie gras.

Goose liver
Goose liver

This was followed by the surprisingly weakest course of the evening. A sole served in the form of fish & chips, combined with a Périgord truffle cream, pommes soufflées, ringed beets and baked shallot rings. Although the fish was of course perfectly cooked, too many other components dominated for my taste. Of course, this is part of the concept of this dish, but in principle, even a classic fish & chips lives from its simplicity, the actually typical vinegar note was completely missing.

Fish & Chips
Fish & Chips

The following course showed how fabulous a fish dish with a view of the Alster can be: a bar de ligne, i.e. a caught loup de mer, sautéed in lime oil. Absolutely cooked to the point, with a firm and crispy skin – and a fascinating quality. In addition, the numerous wafer-thinly sliced raw or marinated in verbena companions of fennel, carrot and young radish, as well as a roasted Norway lobster.

Bar de ligne

Another highlight followed with the back and belly of the suckling pig. This is an unusual dish, as it initially evokes associations with tavern cuisine. But far from it. The fine craftsmanship is evident throughout the composition, especially, of course, in the perfect and crispy fat rim as well as the pineapple rutabaga relish and potato rutabaga puree with saffron.

Dairy piglet “Hamburger National

The next grain witness of excellent craftsmanship and great finesse then joined our table in the form of the venison veal saddle. The protagonist was not only lush in size, but perfect. Inside pink, surrounded by a light coating of roasted aromas. In addition, many small components that can be combined manifold and thus always added new nuances without losing too much focus. Viennese beet, red tobinambur, celery cooked in hay, black pudding gnocchi, Friesian bacon and a great game jus with truffle stock.

Deer calf saddle
Deer calf saddle

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, the only (almost) vegetarian dish on the other menu was served: a braised chard with porcini mushrooms, combined with a vinaigrette of Kalamata olives and a Loué egg yolk (and a beef stock). So good is the vegetable cuisine at Haerlin that it is surprising that more dishes are not offered in this style. We would have ordered them, without question.

Braised chard with porcini mushrooms
Braised chard with porcini mushrooms

Before I take big steps towards the patisserie – and thus into the hands of Christian Hümbs, I allow myself a small excursion to France to the cheeses of Maître Antony. After all, it is still my birthday, so you should not be stingy with the calories in the wrong place.

Cheese from Maître Antony from Vieux Ferrette
Cheese from Maître Antony from Vieux Ferrette

On the simply “Sushi” called pre-dessert I had already looked forward to in advance (and at the latest after the following video of the colleagues Sternefresser and Efille).

The slightly savory flavors are meant to introduce the smooth transition from main course to dessert. The base is a specially prepared unsalted but very deep and intense soy sauce. The vegetables are roasted, marinated with apple juice and then reduced with lemongrass, ginger and vanilla. Great.

That it was a good decision to try both menus became apparent at the latest when two more desserts found their way to our table.

On the one hand, the chervil root with vanilla, passion fruit and carrot. A great combination with unusual aromatics for a dessert – and therefore also a sign of the typical handwriting of Christian Hümbs.

Chervil root with vanilla passion fruit & carrot
Chervil root with vanilla
Passion fruit & carrots

On the other half of the table, I was looking forward to the simply titled Forest dish, consisting of Douglas fir with cranberries, sandalwood and sourdough. And the association succeeds. Dark green tones immediately evoke memories of the forest, spruce, resin and the many sweet berries that you hoped to find there as a child. Great!

Douglas fir with cranberries
Sandalwood & Sourdough

The Haerlin is an institution in Hamburg, as is actually the entire Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten. That evening it was full of people, not only in the starred restaurant, but also at the bars, in the Grill and downstairs in DocChengs. The audience is interesting, of course, following the concept of the house overall a little older and more dignified, but just not exclusively. Right next to us, a well-known boxer dined with his companion. However (probably owing to the omission of the wine accompaniment), they polished off the same menu in half the time. But this is also a quality feature of the kitchen, to respond accordingly to the preferences and habits of the guests. The only drawback to the otherwise perfect service was the surprising absence of vegetarian courses – but we’ll just discuss that more precisely next time we make a reservation.

Restaurant Haerlin
Fairmont Hotel Four Seasons
New Jungfernstieg 9 – 14
20354 Hamburg
Tel: +49 (0) 40 34 94 33 10

Tuesday – Saturday:
18.30 – 21.30

The Beefer

The Beefer

Kevin Fehling: Prodigy

Kevin Fehling: Prodigy

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