Novalis, Restaurant at Burghotel Hardenberg, Nörten-Hardenberg, Germany
Located some distance from any international hot-spot – unless you would call Hannover a metropolis – Nörten-Hardenberg is a provincial town, too big to call a village and too small to call a town. It lies on the western side of the mid-range mountain area Harz, and the next larger city is Göttingen. This said, the A7 highway (Autobahn) passes by here – the A7 being one of the most important connections between northern and southern Germany. Once a year, Nörten-Hardenberg comes into global focus, during the international tournament of show jumping which is held there. It was reported that one most prominent guests during last year’s event was Bruce Springsteen; his daughter apparently participated in one of the competitions.
At the end of the parkour is the charming and conservative country hotel, Burghotel Hardenberg. The whole style suggests quite immediately the strong connection between England and Niedersachen. You might have a look at the website of the hotel: http://www.burghotel-hardenberg.de/
Perched on a cliff behind the hotel are the romantic ruins of the castle Hardenberg. Everything is somehow very, very German. The main restaurant of the hotel is called Novalis. Novalis is the name of a German poet in the early romantic period as well as a philosopher. Novalis wasn’t his legal name; in reality was named Friedrich von Hardenberg. I doubt that too many visitors know Novalis as a poet and if even that it is an artistically name. Although I am tending to write more about him I should come back to the restaurant.
I must smile when I remember my stay there. Everyone is just so polite and responsive. They all want to be super perfect, offering the top style of service and atmosphere – and it’s a shipwreck from the first moment! The good thing about it: I would not have expected such a super service so I wasn’t disappointed either, and all of the little failures were compensated for by the kind attention and innocent friendliness.
The many very conservative guests are reflected in the conservative interior and decor of the hotel. While eating I was wondering to myself who would be a typical guest of this restaurant: a guest of the hotel, some people related to horse riding, golf players or wealthy people from the area – maybe even coming from Göttingen especially for this restaurant. I don’t know.
During my stay, I went for dinner twice at Novalis. Chef Katja Burgwinkel combines German and French cooking styles. She adds atypical side dishes and ingredients, such as bulgur. The outcome is unconventional, rather un-experimental, but in my opinion, somehow overloaded dishes – although portions are absolute fine. I always had the feeling that she doesn’t trust herself in terms of risking something more – perhaps knowing that her guests would not appreciate anything too wild or unconventional.
Duck, elderberry and bulgur
saddle of venison with pear, green beans and potato
Itakuja Valrhona chocolade with pistachio and ficus fruit
I enjoyed each meal. Parts are very good, some falls a bit short of what’s promised.
The wine selection is relatively large. It contains a lot of German wines, but also all kinds of “classic” types of wines from well-known wine regions: Tuscany, Burgundy or Rhone. The selection of Bordeaux wines is relatively large, but does not contain such over-expensive ones as Petrus etc. I was surprised that the restaurant has no sommelier, but instead a very nice waitress who introduced herself as the person in charge of the wine. To be honest, the matching of wines to each dish on the menu could have been better.
You may wonder why I have been there at all – in the middle of nowhere – since I don’t have a horse, don’t ride or play golf. I still wonder.
(This review does not cover or evaluate the hotel! This said, it is a nice hotel)