Se7en Oceans is best described as a collection of eateries within the Europa Passage. There’s a sushi bar, casual bistro, Michelin-starred restaurant and even a cigar lounge located in a cluster on the upper floor level. This review will be about their fine dining restaurant, set in an enclosed glass dining room with a wall of windows overlooking the Alster Lake.
As the glass door shuts, a quiet serenity envelopes me, calming the bustling city life I just encountered from the Hamburg streets and shopping mall. Seated by the window, even during the rainy day, this Lake view and people watching vantage point was a delight.
With a name like Se7en Oceans, it shouldn’t be a surprise that their menu is heavily seafood based. We ordered the menu for two people (€58 per person) featuring dishes made with a whole Breton sole.
Light bites started off the meal with shrimp chips adorned with tiny prawns and edible florals. Beside the chips was a savoury creamy hors d’oeuvres that I’ve forgotten, which in general was my impression of the amuse bouche: fine but forgettable.
A cracker topped with a savoury mousse and carrot gelee was better. Except, while we were eating, the whole time we were fixated on the sardine can accompanying it. Our waitress noted it was “not for eating now” and opening the lid revealed a can of rocks. After a bit, we realized it was just a paper weight for the note, which specifies that Se7en Oceans undercooks their fish so it’s “glassy”.
Personally, I felt the note was unnecessary as most diners eating in a reputable seafood restaurant would expect this and just served to confuse us.
The following appetizer was an interesting combination of poached egg, crispy chicken skin, mustard seeds and savoury gelatin. It is light but has powerful flavour and textural elements from the chicken skin cracklings and plump juicy mustard seeds.
Their bread is warm and delicious – I chose a pillowy cheese brioche and a rustic potato bun. But, it’s the accompanying whipped cheese with flowers that’s unique and beautiful. Although, I’ll admit, it’s a tad tangy and floral for the breads I chose and ate them plain instead.
Our first course finally featured the Breton sole. The whole fish was brought out after ordering as evidence of what was about to be served (without its head and tail for those who are squeamish). The fish was wonderfully cooked with a crispy spiced crust and juicy flaky meat. The neutral white fish was paired with luscious barely cooked scallops, fresh vegetables (zucchini and green beans), a strange jello-textured lemon rice gnocchi and crispy rice kernels. Overall, a delicious dish with a light ponzu jus that went well with everything.
Between the two fish courses was an inventive sorbet. Unlike normal palette cleansers, this one was huge and could have easily been dessert. The tangy mango sorbet sat on top of copious amounts of fluffy coconut cream to resemble an egg. I loved the soufflé-like slightly salty whipped coconut mousse, which went wonderfully with the crunchy grain bits.
Even though the fish was similarly prepared in the next course, it was much earthier. There were carrot and asparagus purees, citrus elements and a curry flavour mixed into everything. Personally, I enjoyed the first representation of the fish better, but I see the progression of the courses as this second dish was richer and heavier.
We skipped dessert knowing there was bound to be petit fours. Luckily, we weren’t disappointed as a platter of delicate raspberry macarons, soft cakey madeleines, a dense rich brownie and creamy dark chocolate truffles arrived.
For a Michelin-starred restaurant, prices are reasonable, albeit bottled water (€9.80) is where the mark-up occurs. Liquor is surprisingly more cost efficient - a bottle of Herforder pilsner for €3.90 or glass of Hofgarten Grauburgunder wine for €10.50.
Se7en Oceans was awarded its Michelin star in 2012. From my experience, Chef Frédéric Morel certainly knows how to cook fish, it was prepared perfectly: a golden well-seasoned crust and moist meaty interior. So, if you think Germany is all about meat and potatoes, think again. Places like Se7en Oceans can easily dispel that myth, if you just give them the chance.
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Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!