Wolfsburg, in Lower Saxony, is known for being the headquarters of Volkswagen, the world’s third largest Automobile manufacturer. It is also the home of the less-known three Michelin starred chef Sven Elverfeld’s and his restaurant Aqua.
The adventure began when a dear foodie friend of mine moved back from London to her native Berlin. Being one of my favourite cities, I planned a trip to ease the winter blues. First port of call was a day in Berlin to visit my favourite shops in Mitte; another had to be some sort of culinary experience. But I knew nothing about German cuisine (despite having lived in Dresden for six months) so my hope of suggestions boiled down to Google. The wheel was spun, the seed was planted and we were soon booked to go to dinner at Aqua on the Saturday evening of the weekend trip.
Now, I left it up my hosts to plan the trip to Wolfsburg whilst I handled my flight to Berlin and the hotel/restaurant reservations. Upon arrival, I discovered that my lovely native Berliner had googled flights from Berlin to Wolfsburg; not knowing it was a mere one-hour train journey. Not known to a German and let alone a foodie. What’s your deal Mr Elverfeld?
Arriving to Wolfsburg was an experience in itself. We took a taxi from the station to the hotel which involved driving into the Autostadt along a long cobbled street that was lined with gigantic cylindrical glass towers, housing thousands of VW cars. At the end of the road, we reached our destination, perched on the edge of a lido and across from the original car factory. (Think of an even bigger and more imposing Battersea power station.) We checked into our room, enjoyed some of the spa facilities (including a heated 40m pool that “floated” in the lido) and got ready for dinner.
The restaurant is located in the hotel. There isn’t an anteroom or an area to perch, we were ushered straight to our table and sat by the floor to ceiling window facing the mass of water.
We started off with a trio of miniature cones placed in a bespoke holder; smoked duck, polenta with popcorn and ham with tomato. Each was a divine morsel of freshness, texture and flavour. The next course was just as visually stimulating. Two glass cones filled with soup, one bright red made of beetroot and eel, another a rich brown goulash topped with potato foam. These were accompanied with two spoons filled with mackerel: one prepared as tartare with mango and another with cucumber and cashews topped with roe. The mains were equally wholesome. Sprouts filled with goats’ cheese served with German salami and a shot of local beer. Wagyu beef accompanied with white beetroot, root vegetables and a deep broth.
To end with, we had a “trail mix” dessert. This was a concoction of nuts and fruit that weren’t what they appeared – the “apple” was really a thin white chocolate skin filled with stewed apple compote, similarly peanuts made of ice cream, walnuts or parfait and an intense hazelnut that tasted like a whole jar of Nutella.
Aqua is the Volkswagen equivalent of food; for the people. There’s nothing complicated about it (majority of its clientele are hard core Germans), the food is perfectly executed and menu is quintessential. Topped with immaculate service (Mr Elverfeld visited each table) and in a location that truly brings out the destination element of any true three-starred restaurant, it really deserves a visit. But hurry, before the rest of the world cottons onto it and reservations become impossible.
Aqua (4 out of 5): The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg, Parkstraße 1, 38440 Wolfsburg, Germany, +49 (5361) 606056.