THE PLATE

La Vision, which boasts one Michelin star, is found on the 11th floor of a classy boutique hotel imaginatively constructed within the shell of a water tower. The tower was built in 1872 to a height of 118 feet and upon completion it was the highest water tower in Europe. Its cylindrical design is still something of a Cologne landmark.

Appropriately enough for a city that has always looked west rather than east, the menu is dominated by French cuisine. Start with foie gras parfait with rhubarb jelly, mango sorbet and caramelised apple, and foie gras cannelloni.

If you're in the mood for soup, cream of cauliflower with scallops and caviar.

Mains are wide-ranging, from sea bass with aubergine and lemon compote and saffron sauce, to a dish of pigeon, roast garlic and new spring onions with rosemary-liquorice sauce.

For desserts, it's difficult to ignore the passion fruit and chocolate mousse served with chocolate doughnuts and sour cream ice cream.

THE VIEW

The hotel and restaurant are located to the south-west of the city centre. Large panoramic windows, framed by potted plants, enable you to gaze over Cologne's skyline on the left bank of the Rhine.

The city's Old Town sprawls westwards from the Rhine and is distinguished by its ring of 12 Romanesque churches. A fair number of these can be seen from the restaurant, including the striking 10th-century St Pantaleon, Cologne's oldest surviving church, and St Aposteln and St Cacilien.

They are all worth visiting as part of a post-dinner amble. St Cacilien has an impressivecollection of medieval religious art.

By day, the restaurant allows views beyond the city's boundaries. At night, the city lights make for a romantic setting. The logistics of fitting a kitchen into a circular water tower mean that the Dom, Cologne's superb gothic cathedral, remains just out of view from inside the restaurant.

However, on warm days and in summer, guests spill out on to a small terrace and you can, just, crane your neck to see its magnificent spires overlooking the Rhine.

THE BILL

Starters range from €13 to €32 (£9-£23) and main courses from €28 to €38 (£20-£26). Desserts are around €12 (£8.30). Wines from around €18 (£12.40).

La Vision restaurant, Kaygasse 2, Cologne (00 49 221 20080; www.hotel-im-wasserturm.de).

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