We Berliners are so rarely in Hamburg, it’s shame. A literal shame, considering this beautiful city is only 2hrs by train away. But then, two hours on a train! And however, this post isn’t supposed to be a rant about our (my) laziness, because I actually went to Hamburg a couple days ago and had some delicious vegan food at a restaurant I need to recommend to you: Leaf.
Leaf is located in Ottensen – a part of Altona, which is a part of Hamburg, but used to be an independent city until the 1930s and still feels slightly separated – and I heard about it first via friends on Facebook and was very excited to finally enjoy their vegan dinner, since the facebook page promised some upscale and creative dishes. Entering the restaurant I was already surprised by how crowded it was on a random Tuesday night in February, almost all tables were booked and the staff seemed quite busy. My lovely dinner companion Fabian Hart and I were first seated at what I would call the Katzentisch, facing a corner and decorated with the drawing of a cat, but later moved to one of their bigger dining places by the window to enjoy our meal.
We started with a “sushi” made from couscous wrapped in Nori, topped with raspberry caviar and a blackberry sauce, that came with a delicious celeriac salad on the side (7,40 Euro). I liked the combination of the soft couscous, the algae and the tart salad. However, I was even more interested in my main that had this load of components: a seitan roll with potato and blood orange mash topped with saltwort (I love saltwort!), on aubergine tatar, tomato jam and clementine-salt (18 Euro). Wowsa. Fabian chose a stuffed artichoke on edamame puree with nashi pear chutney, lime-bechamel and polenta chips (pictured at top, 17,60 Euro), that proved a little hard to eat but the effort was worth it. As confusing as the menu description might first sound, it actually made sense. The textures, flavors and colors worked really well together, with my saltwort being my personal highlight.
I liked that there was not a trace of them trying to mimic non-vegan-food but placing all the importance on the individuality of their plant-based-creations. The kitchen succeeds in serving complex dishes made of plants only, playing with loads of different preparation methods (another main had fried olives and stuffed lemons) and influences from all kinds of international cuisines (from tahini-beans to celeriac-pesto).
Leaf has a rather homey-interior, with one too many potted plant on the sills and some decorative choices I wouldn’t have made considering the menu is so culinary advanced and upscale.
We finished our dinner with a shared dessert plate of sweet figs, pandan-soy-cream and crunchy fennel-aniseed-crackers (8,50 Euro). Another wonderful mix of textures and flavors delivering a nice finish. But just one last suggestion, don’t opt for sharing courses unless you’ve had a big lunch since their portions are a little on the small side (and relatively low in carbs). The rest is vegan bliss.