Popular opinion gets it wrong sometimes: one can find exceptionally fine food in Germany today, and Hugenpoet proves it most convincingly. It also happens to be one of the region’s most lyrical spots - not to be missed if you are touring the Ruhr region and discovering its rich industrial heritage.
Hugenpoet? This 17C castle nestling in a splendid English-style park and surrounded by moats is pure poetry, as is the idyllic countryside beyond. It is just a stone’s throw from Kettwig, a town on the banks of the Ruhr River whose 18C buildings miraculously escaped the aerial attacks of 1944-45.
Hugenpoet is dedicated to a mysterious toad (in German, hugen = toads, poet = puddle) whose golden effigy graces the lapels of the people who run the hotel.
Current owner Michael Lübbert has done his very best to maintain the authenticity of the castle, which holds 26 guest rooms. In addition to its sheer beauty, Hugenpoet is also famous for its restaurant’s cuisine, prepared by Chef Erika Bergheim.
Awarded her first Michelin star in 2009, this young woman from Essen who has virtually never left the Ruhr specializes in French-style cuisine made from completely organic ingredients. Her dishes are convincingly subtle and well-balanced - I ordered the venison and it was frankly exceptional: incredibly tender and perfectly cooked. And don’t hesitate to ask Erika Bergheim to make her tarte tatin - she loves to prepare this classic French apple upside-down pie but doesn’t dare put it on the menu because it isn’t thought to meet the standards of modern gastronomy: too simple. Quel dommage!
The very modern dining room has a lovely terrace which overlooks the castle’s park. The wine list spotlights the mineral, fruity Rieslings of the Moselle, the Sarre and the Rheingau. Try one of Fritz Haag’s wines; he is one of Germany’s finest vintners.
Fixed-price menus: € 69/£ 59 and € 116/£ 100.
A la carte: € 59/£ 51 to € 76/£ 65.
Rooms from € 215/£ 185.
August-Thyssen-Str. 51 D
Tel: (02054) 1 20 40