Travel blog on one-of-a-kind travel experiences

Gourmet experience in the Mammertsberg by Relais & Châteaux


Recently, Relais & Châteaux extended invitations to one of their legendary gourmet adventures of the special kind. Happening this time: 17 Gault-Millau points, 1 Michelin star, 1 sommelière, 1 world champion chef in a manor house on the shore of Lake Constance. We naturally couldn’t wait to take it in with all our senses…

Someone who is not yet familiar with Relais & Châteaux, the Paris-headquartered hotel and restaurant collection, but wants to savor a gourmet dinner should take a closer look at one of the establishments in the chain. Fortunately, they can be found all over the globe now :-)

Being greeted personally by the host is standard practice in these hotels and restaurants. In the Mammertsberg, chef de cuisine August Minikus doubles as host – know that his hearty handshake comes with 17 Gault Millau points and 1 Michelin star! And standing at the innkeeper’s side is judicious wife Luisa Minikus, sommelière by profession and therefore just as important…

Chef August Minikus, Mylène Oquidan of Relais & Châteaux in the center and sommelière Luisa Minikus on the right

August Minikus, Mylène Oquidan of Relais & Châteaux in the center and Luisa Minikus on the right

So much for explanations… Let the good times roll.

The Mammertsberg

With the seigneurial Relais & Châteaux Mammertsberg comes a most beautiful panoramic view. It offers a view of the distant Appenzeller Alps, the surrounding apple trees, rape fields, and the shimmering Lake Constance. To complete the idyll: you’ll hear from time to time, besides the ubiquitous bird song, a donkey’s hee-haw accompanied by chickens cackling right along.

Main building and entrance to the Mammertsberg restaurant

Main building and entrance to the Mammertsberg restaurant

The historic estate was renovated in 2013 by star Architect Tilla Theus, who is renowned and controversial in equal parts. Here, however, she has deftly demonstrated how to gently renovate a more than 100-year old house with filigree style elements and expand it with a modern addition. We were simply enthralled by it! The winding staircase that connects the restaurant with the lounge one flight up adds an extravagant, space-configuring element.

Dining room with extravagant circular stairs

Dining room with the extravagant circular stairs

Lounge in the upstairs gallery

The lounge in the upstairs gallery

Out of practical considerations, you access the six guest rooms (3 double rooms and 3 suites) in the upper floors of the venerable old main building not by the winding staircase but via modern glass elevator instead. Depending on the room you’re in, you revel in a magnificent view of the Appenzell Alps in the distance, or of Lake Constance or of the hilly Canton Thurgau landscape.

Never mind for now, we won’t need the rooms until after the meal; let’s fire up that kitchen!

Points and a star

Exclusively guided by watchwords like pleasure and hospitality, Luisa and August Minikus regale demanding palates with a symbiosis of creative star cuisine and a first-rate wine selection.

Genially, they don’t let it go at that: for the interested lover of haute cuisine, they delight in clarifying their gastronomic concept and discoursing on the noble vintages they pair with it.

Chef August Minikus in the panorama garden

August Minikus in his element

What combining so many Gault Millau points with a Michelin star achieves soon becomes eye-poppingly apparent. So much so, in fact, that we weren’t quite ready to dine on the three-dimensional works of art that appeared on our table. Were they really meant to be eaten? But it only took a little encouragement from the service staff to let us succumb to each of the lucullan temptations as they were served (but not before taking 2-3 snapshots of each) …

Mammertsberg table setting

Table setting shortly before the action started…

Amuse-bouche of salmon, asparagus cream brulé and lemon gelee

Amuse-bouche of salmon, asparagus cream brulé and lemon gelee

Plate on beef with carrots, radish, watercress and quail egg

Variation on beef with carrots, radish, watercress and quail egg

Plate of sole and tuna on asparagus, wasabi hollandaise, spinach and tapioca

Sole and tuna on asparagus, wasabi hollandaise, spinach and tapioca

Plate with veal on a raviolo with chanterelle, root vegetables, peas and potato

Veal on its own raviolo with chanterelle, root vegetables, peas and potato

Dessert plate of Thurgau berries, pistachios, sour cream and lemon

Thurgau berries, pistachios, sour cream and lemon

Sweetmeats on the etagère

Sweetmeats on the etagère

It goes without saying that the mouth-watering dinner was harmoniously accompanied by choice wines, elegantly paired and staged by hostess Luisa Minikus. We tasted absolutely nothing here but Dionysian delights…

Hostess and graduate sommelière Luisa Minikus

Hostess and graduate sommelière Luisa Minikus

Wine cellar with selection of Clos d'Agon

Wine cellar with selection of Clos d’Agon

The individual courses really did appear like picture compositions! When we remarked on this, August Minikus shared a little secret of his craft with us: his first step in creating something new for the menu is to sketch it. So, a new chocolate cake dessert, for instance, might start out like this…

Dessert sketch autographed by August Minikus

Dessert sketch autographed by August Minikus

…and then materialize like this:

Dessert with fresh Thurgau strawberries and chocolate cake

Dessert with fresh Thurgau strawberries and chocolate cake

The World Junior Chefs champion and his passionate brigade

Of course, the Mammertsberg does not just bear the imprint of two simpatico hosts. Creating in the kitchen is, among others, up-and-coming chef Yannick Hollenstein. The former apprentice under August Minikus (diploma with top grade) by now is a member of the Swiss Junior Chefs team and a world champion in his own right. Wow! And it really did taste world-class…

Junior Chef world champion Yannick Hollenstein

Junior Chef world champion Yannick Hollenstein

A final word about the service staff is, yes, absolutely called for:

In NOTHING of what they provide do they take a backseat to the special architecture and high-flying gastronomy: Vanessa Schudel, Assistant manager and Chef de Service and Simon Wyss, deputy Chef de Service, know how to read every wish from their guests’ eyes before they even know themselves what next new thing they could wish for. They were always there for us at the right moment, with sure instincts, Madonna-like smiles, and a hospitality that says: there is nothing better in this world than cossetting our guests.

First class!
And not just because I would have left my smartphone if not for them…

First-rate service by Vanessa Schudel and Simon Wyss

First-rate service by Vanessa Schudel and Simon Wyss

Relais & Châteaux Mammertsberg
Bahnhofstrasse 28
9306 Freidorf

Mammertsberg restaurant and hotel entrance

See more photos in our Flickr gallery.

Our thanks go to…

The chef’s brigade supporting our hosts August and Luisa Minikus! An equally big thumbs-up goes to the exceptionally attentive service staff! (I can’t say enough about them!) Bien joué! You made it a perfect experience!

Last but far from least, we thank Mylène Oquidan of Relais & Châteaux and Sabine Biedermann with the PrimCom PR Agency for the perfect event organization!


About Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog In his day job Walter is an online marketing manager based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

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