The name sounds a bit unwieldy at first: HACO stands for Hamburger Corner and refers both to the restaurant’s corner location between Clemens-Schultz- and Rendsburger Straße, but also to the culinary radius of action that Björn Juhnke has set for himself: From Hamburg consistently north, from Iceland via Scandinavia to the Baltic States. The Baltic Sea, North Sea and North Atlantic are the focus of the cuisine. Nordic Cuisine is the overriding motto.
And that is decidedly a good thing. Not only because Nordic Cuisine is still trendy, but also because it promises clear aromatics and precise selection and staging of the products used. The realization succeeds in the HACO extremely well, with some courses one would wish however that the small kitchen team around Björn Juhnke would loosen the handbrake still somewhat more, would work still more consistently along the self-set slogan. The potential is there. Now it is also up to the guests to show how modern, purist, avant-garde or classic they would like the Hamburger Corner to be.
The ambience is Scandinavian, friendly and bright, many deep windows grant a beautiful view of the busy street front in the middle of St. Pauli. Light electronic music wafted discreetly from the speakers. The menu for 49€ consists of four courses, alternatively you can also choose from the clear menu.
The first dish is a variation of smørrebrød with halibut and Danish tartar sauce. The more elegant presentation and some fresh touches make it far less rustic than the classic version. A solid start.
The combination of pea, chanterelle and onsen egg comes as a bound, foamed soup. This is finely crafted and subtly flavored. This brings out the fresh and sweet tone of the pea well. With the onsen egg, perhaps a little more of the egg white could have been removed. No matter how you twist or turn it, the texture you get at 64 degrees is just never really palate pleasing. But that is a subjective impression – apart from that, a nice and very clear gait.
The pork belly is tenderized for 48 hours and then seared until crispy on the paper-thin skin. In addition, there are various variants of the onion and a yeast-based sauce. This is nicely purist, maybe a little oniony, but a nice meat course with an often underrated main character.
The small menu closes with a dessert that evokes distant associations with Black Forest cherry. Thanks to pumpernickel and lots of fruit not too sweet, but fresh, slightly chocolate-bitter and strong.
HACO is a wonderful new addition to Hamburg. For a manageable budget, you can eat really well here. Both in terms of products and in terms of preparation, conception and presentation. The beautiful and informal atmosphere is fun, as is the very well put together wine selection by restaurant manager Tobias Greve. In my impression, the kitchen could still work a touch more progressively – and it probably should, in order to gradually carve out a clearer identity of its own. Of course, the scope for this also always depends on the season, the available products and, in the end, above all, on the vote of the guests. And some things just need time to be prepared, fermented and tried. In this regard, I am already looking forward to future surprises.
Clemens-Schultz Street 18
Phone: 040 74203939