Hamburg now has a Michelin three-star restaurant, The Table Kevin Fehling, but I couldn’t see why I should spend €195 per person to sit for three hours at a counter, nibbling on dishes with fashionable ingredients like yuzu and tonka bean, when I could pay far less for a similar experience in, say, Portland. Instead, I sought out restaurants with more of a sense of place. Some local recipes, such as Hamburger Aalsuppe — an unpalatable brew of eel, smoked pork and stone fruits — are best left to the locals. But I’m happy to say I made numerous delicious discoveries over the course of our stay. Today it requires little effort to eat very well in Hamburg.
It’s even easy for vegetarians nowadays. Although Germany has a meaty reputation, almost every restaurant we tried had at least one vegetarian appetizer and main course.
Hamburg-based magazine Der Feinschmecker (“The Gourmet”) calls this bistro “perhaps the most famous secret tip in the city.” Tucked away on a side street in Neustadt (New Town), this quiet restaurant with leather banquettes and candles atop white tablecloths serves elevated renditions of traditional recipes. I quite liked my “Bouillabaisse from the North,” a Mediterranean-German fusion soup of salmon, tuna, cod, tiny local shrimp and vegetables in a dill-saffron broth. But the Labskaus, usually a hash of beef, beets and potatoes, was the star. This “white” veal version came topped with a quail egg and a flurry of black-truffle shavings.