Restaurant Hæbel is a Nordic-French semi-fine dining restaurant run by the passionate chef Fabio Haebel. Known to locals as a cookbook author and TV-chef doing travel shows as well as cooking on the morning show of Sat1. Haebel cooks with almost 100% organic produce and serves a seasonal five-course tasting menu. Imagine a cozy French bistro combined with the aesthetics of New Nordic cuisine. Don’t miss the brand new Hæbel La Cave natural wine bar next door!
The St. Pauli District
I arrived in the young and vibrant St. Pauli neighborhood from the harbor side, having crossed over the infamous Reeperbahn after a visit to Park Fiction near the fish market. A must-do when in Hamburg is to take in the impressive view of the multiple quay cranes that make out the port of Hamburg – Germany’s largest and the 15th busiest in the world. Hamburg is still the country’s gateway to the world and the history of this port dates back to medieval times and the Hanseatic league who dominated European trade for centuries.
Chef Fabio Haebel greeted me in the door from his little restaurant on Paul-Roosen-Straße 31. Locals were lined up along the pavement, some enjoying wines from Hæbel and others sipping a drink from Clockers next-door – one of the best cocktail bars in Hamburg. Haebel poured me a glass of beer from the German winemaker Kai Schätzel. I know his wines well but was not familiar with his newly started beer production.
Hæbel is a Nordic-French Bistro
I chose one of the white marble tables along the windows which offered a beautiful natural light. On a side note: since white reflects light, this is way better for photography than darker surfaces. The interior design as well as plates, cups, and cutlery, are heavily inspired by Scandinavian wine bars and small restaurants in Copenhagen. Fabio is proud to call his restaurant a Nordic-French bistro, and I love how his logo incorporates the French letter œ which also exists in the Nordics as the æ.
Amuse bouche arrived quickly to the table, paired with a light and refreshing sparkling rosé. Fabio’s wine philosophy favors natural wines, and a few weeks after my visit, he even opened up a natural wine bar right next door to his restaurant (left as you exit) – called Hæbel La Cave. A small wooden box contained three snacks – a tart with fresh green peas, a new potato with fish roe, and a small cracker made from pumpkin seeds. Pure and delicious flavors, each with a soothing textural contrast.
Cold deer tartar came with tomatoes in various textures with one that was made into a chip. The dish was salty, sweet and rich in umami – I loved it. Norwegian scallops covered in a beurre blanc spuma and topped with marigold was decent, but had more potential, in my opinion. I’ve been spoiled with so many great scallop dishes throughout the years that I found it a bit bland, which is a shame because the French cuisine offers chefs the option to go a bit more crazy with rich and pungent flavors. Presentation-wise, it was a winner, however!
Cucumbers, aquavit, and dill was better, but also much more Nordic in its expression. High in acidity, almost too much, although very refreshing, it could easily have been off-balanced by a creamy element. An orange wine, Matassa Blossom, was a match made in heaven.
Another excellent wine filled my glass – a 2016 (MMXVI as the bottle reads) Materia Prima from the Fritsch wine house in Austria poured from a beautiful black ceramic bottle. An orange wine with a deep color, fruity, floral and spicy with light tannins. It paired surprisingly well with the main course – old milk cow with chanterelles, snails, potatoes & truffle. The kind of dish you would describe as highly satisfactory.
My notes fail me on the desserts, but I remember them as a good finish to the meal. I stayed for a long time this evening, and despite the wine bar not being ready, Fabio opened many good bottles. Among them a fantastic Ehrenfelser from Kai Schätzel – the best I’ve ever tasted from this producer.
Looking for more great spots for food and drinks in Germany’s second largest city? Check out my foodie map of Hamburg.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Hamburg? Please leave a comment below.