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Lounging With Lohninger
From the outside, the round flying saucer-like building situated in Frankfurt’s industrial area would hardly warrant a mention. However, it’s what happens inside that makes this place so special. In a little over five years the Cocoon Club has established itself as one of the most fashionable venues in the city’s club scene, whilst next-door, in its two adjoining and equally hip restaurants, Chef Mario Lohninger is wowing customers with his culinary skills and creativity.
In the snow-white interior of ‘Bed-Restaurant’ Silk, guests recline on white leather chaises longues and sparkling Swarovski pillows and sample the delights of an extensive tasting menu. Drinks are served in Riedel glasses by girls dressed head to toe in (you guessed it) white whilst a soundtrack of chilled out club tunes adds to the ambience.
Small bites from around the world
The culinary floorshow begins with a "ballet of amuse bouches" such as Räucherforellenmousse (smoked trout fillets) with Keta (salmon) caviar on waffles; Scottish salmon with Japanese cucumber, crème fraîche and cider vinegar, Lohninger’s famous "one-hour organic egg" with chicken soup and asparagus and carabinieros with ramson coconut and quinoa. Main courses include roast saddle of lamb with aubergine rosti and black radish and chicken with foie gras foam. To follow, expect a waltz of desserts with surprises such as chocolate soufflé with rhubarb and tobacco ice cream. You won’t need a knife for the bite-sized portions – just a fork and a spoon and you’re away! The impressive and extensive wine list features choices from Europe and further afield with an emphasis on Lohninger’s Austrian home land.
But it’s not just Silk that’s worth a visit. Next door, in the equally relaxed Micro, a number of established favourites are on the menu and the food comes just as highly acclaimed. Here, says Lohninger, you’ll find "an honest kitchen with a few gimmicks." Guests are seated at “quite normal eight-seat tables" and can choose from an ever changing menu featuring "favourite dishes" such as beef stew, pizza with spicy chicken through to more unusual offerings such as sushi with Kaerntner Schlutzkrapfen (small ravioli-like pasta envelopes filled with spinach, pumpkin seeds and goat's cheese).
From Austria to the world
Lohninger offers a truly cosmopolitan style that combines solid craft with real creativity and an understanding of flavour and presentation. Born in Maria Alm in the Salzburg region, the 36-year-old chef had an early introduction to the kitchen at the Hotel Erlenhof run by his parents. Following an apprenticeship at a restaurant in Salzburg, Lohninger went on to work for Rudy and Karl Obauer at their nearby two Michelin-starred restaurant, which was followed by stints working for Hans Haas at Tantris in Munich and Guy Savoy in Paris. At 23 he moved to California to work for fellow countryman Wolfgang Puck. Cooking for the stars and working alongside Puck enabled Lohninger to develop a sense of how to “compose" a dish, manage a kitchen and cater to the most sophisticated of palates. He then refined his culinary skills and merged "Old World" cuisine with a sophisticated and modern approach at the Danube restaurant in Manhattan owned by one of New York’s most innovative restaurateurs, David Bouley.
Awards and accolades
I was on the way to becoming a very good downhill ski racer and was attending the sports academy in Saalfelden. Unfortunately, an accident at the wrong time shattered that dream.
Do you have a favourite spice or ingredient and what do you do with it?
I love to use peppers in everything from bouillabaisse to goulash.
What was your biggest culinary flop?
That…I wouldn’t want to remember.
What is your favourite dish?
My favourite dish changes all the time but at the moment it’s Kaspressknödel [cheese dumplings] cooked by my father.
What is the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?
Pickled sea cucumber offal during a visit to Japan.
Where and how do you spend your vacation?
A Harley to ride home to the Salzburg region.
Which book is by your bed right now?
No books. Just Playboy Magazine and Wallpaper