My seat in the corner provided a clear view of the dishes and bowls as they came out of the kitchen to be finished by a team of intently focused young chefs.
Leaning close to the plate, one with a small offset spatula transferred items from cooking pans to the plate, a second used a squeeze bottle dotting savory sauces, a third with a tray of micro greens and tweezers garnishing, and perhaps another wiping any finger prints or smudges from the plates before they were brought to table.
The closely choreographed dance went on all evening, not just for our meals, but for all the meals coming out of the kitchen.
It was a glimpse into food prep at the Michelin starred Restaurant Gustav that drew me in, not quite participating, but closer than the normal dining experience. I don’t know if the public plating is the merely the function of a very small kitchen, I rather suspect it is intentional. It is effective.
I believe fine dining is, in part, theater. Just watch as diners focus on the approaching food, lean forward with anticipation, even unconsciously lick their lips as meals are set before them, the flourish of waiter as he removes the cloche plat, “Viola.”
Tell me it’s not a performance.
Restaurant Gustav was not so formal to use polished domes over the food, but the quality and care was evident.
It was Friday night and the business workshop had concluded an hour or so before. About a dozen of us gathered at the Restaurant Gustav to sendoff one of our colleagues who was leaving the department.
A far cry from Terminus Klause, this place was painted in muted earth tones and decorated with a diverse collection of whimsical art, from paintings to wooden sculptures. A U-shaped counter of beautifully veined marble was the plating station.
Our paced meal commenced with a carrot amuse bouche, followed by beet root colored butter that popped visually against the chewy black bread.
I don’t remember exactly all that we had, I wasn’t taking notes and, for the most part descriptions were in German, though they did make an effort to translate.
Starters included parsnip with eel and horseradish. The main course was beef two ways – rare and sliced and a small filet that was delicately tender. Dessert was warm pear with ice cream.
There were two vegetarians in our group and they were delighted with their meals.
As the night wound down I found myself wanting more, not because I was still hungry, far from it, but rather because I had enjoyed the soothing atmosphere, the fine food and drink, the good company of long time colleagues, and of course, the magnificent stage show.
I didn’t want to leave, but I had bags to pack, so I said my good-byes then made my way into the night.