At a recent tasting over lunch in the cosy dining room of award-winning wine grower Hanspeter Ziereisen in Efringen-Kirchen (research – honest – for my upcoming wine travel piece for Decanter), the talk turned (as is its wont) to what’s cooking in this southwestern corner of Germany, close to the Swiss border. Between us we covered all the usual suspects: the Traube in Blansingen, the Rebstock in Egringen, Walsers Landhaus in Efringen-Kirchen… Everyone agreed that it’s not only the wines of Baden that have come on by leaps and bounds of late, but also the food.
Later Hanspeter mailed me that he’d forgotten one place worth checking out: the Drei König in Lörrach. Not to be confused with Basel’s Hotel Drei König, this is a new place on Lörrach’s market square that combines a restaurant, bar, deli and hotel. Well, it’s ‘new’ in a manner of speaking – in fact the building is seriously ancient, dating back to 1686. What’s new is the makeover job recently undertaken by owner Konrad Winzer, who got a gong for his pains from the German Gault Millau Guide, which named him 2012 Restaurateur of the Year.
On the ground floor is a light, airy, modern deli and trattoria where you can get food to go, or you can instal yourself at one of the huge Stammtisch-style shared wooden tables to eat in-house. The day’s specials (soups, salads, pasta, cold meats, cheeses) and wines by the glass are chalked up on huge blackboards behind the bar. At the back of the room is a glass-fronted chill room festooned with hams, sausages, Rippli and sundry salumi, and the shelves around the walls are stacked with tempting things in jars. On sunny days you can sit out on the pavement, and enjoy the spectacle of the market (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) set out before you on the square.
Upstairs is the restaurant proper, similarly minimalist-chic with smooth cherry-wood tables and a terrace overlooking the market square. Chefs Hermann Fritz and Georg Leisinger get 15 GM points for their precise, seasonal cooking with local variations, and the small but deftly selected wine list features local Baden stars like Hanspeter Ziereisen, Hermann Dörflinger and Dr Heger, with Zind Humbrecht and Boxler from Alsace, Massimo Rattalino from Piemonte and Kurt Angerer from Austria’s Kamptal.
The Drei König has gone into Eating Out in Alsace, Basel and Baden. Check it out for yourself, stock up on goodies in the market and at the deli, then hit lunch at either the trattoria or upstairs in the restaurant. And let me know what you think.