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Benjamins American Diner (Update)

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Gorxheimer Straße 9 68309 Mannheim

2 kilograms of sheer hamburger meat, topped with slices of cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato slices, raw white onions, pickles, and ketchup, sandwiched between two sesame seed buns measuring 30 cm (about 1 foot) in diameter.  If you’re looking for the ultimate test of man versus burger, an ordeal of pure gluttony and fortitude, then look no further than Benjamins American Diner in Mannheim.  Here, you can test the capacity of your stomach with their XXL burger – a true monster, indeed!

Benjamins American Diner is an American restaurant establishment located along a long highway, next to a US army base installation in Käfertal.  Classic American items, such as burgers, salads, sandwiches, BBQ pork loins, ribs, and steaks, highlight the menu.  Breakfast items, including pancakes, eggs, ham, and bacon, are also featured.  Moreover, there are a couple of Mexican items like Mexican salad and Mexican rice.  The menu is printed in both German and English and features many rich images and photographs of the food.  The actual booklet is impressively designed and is reminiscent of typical American restaurant menus.  Special summer dishes, including salads and desserts, are also available on a laminated menu.

Drinks include a nice selection of popular American soft drinks like A&W root beer, Dr. Pepper, and Mountain Dew, as well as different types of beer (including Corona).   Their homemade sweet tea is refreshing.  Served with a slice of lemon, the cool drink is thirst-quenching and satisfying on a hot, summer day.

Appetizers include spicy chicken wings, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, potato wedges, nachos, and cheesy fries.  Soups are also served during the colder months.

Onions rings are thick, crispy, and extremely addicting.  They are battered in beer and fried to a golden brown.  Onions are sweet and have the perfect ratio of batter to onion.  The flavor is simply outstanding – some of the best you’ll ever find.  Furthermore, the rings aren’t overly greasy.  This appetizer is certainly an excellent starter.  The only shortcoming is the small amount of onion rings given in an order – around 8 rings for 3,90 €.

 

The colossal XXL burger is an experience in itself.  An exercise in mastication and determination, only the finest eaters will be able to conquer such a colossal beast.  Served on a huge serving platter (conceivably a Thanksgiving turkey serving dish), the 2 kg burger is accompanied by crisp fries on each side.  Conquering this behemoth requires absolute skill and a strong stomach.  The hamburger patty itself amounts to a little over an inch in thickness; the bun approximately two inches.  Simply managing the burger is a huge obstacle in itself – you surely won’t be able to bite off a portion of the burger in a single bite as it is just utterly impossible.  It may be safe to say that this burger is indomitable by mere mortals – only the finest eaters could overcome such a monster.

The burger meat is juicy and seasoned well; the flavor enhanced by the melted cheese and condiments.  Due to the gigantic size of the patty, it does taste a bit like meatloaf.  The sesame seed bun is somewhat tough to cut and bite into, though it is a contrast of textures with the succulent meat.  Taking into account the massive amount of meat, the condiments are not individually noticeable.  An occasional tomato or pickle will add a flavor burst, but the burger dominates everything else.  Cheddar cheese is a welcome sight and provides a delightful gooey texture.

 

What’s a burger without fries?  The fries here are cooked well and finely salted. A side portion costs 2,50 €; seasoned fries 2,60 €.  The seasoned fries are nothing spectacular – seasoning salt is loosely sprinkled over regular fries.  As an alternative, chili cheese fries can be ordered off of the menu.

Like the previous visit, the service on this visit was top-notch.  Upon entrance into the diner and throughout the entire meal, the staff was friendly, attentive, and patient.  You will almost always find a warm smile from every staff member.  One waitress, in particular, was outstanding.  Her politeness and general sociable demeanor made the dining experience even better.  With her New York English accent, she politely addressed each diner with a ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ that is quite uncommon nowadays.  Although the dining room was packed, food came out in a reasonable amount of time.  Plates and empty glasses were also taken away promptly – very impressive considering the situation.

The burgers at Benjamins American diner are better than any you would find at any fast food joint here in Germany.  The ribs and chicken wings are also better than most.  Tack on the superior service, relaxed dining room atmosphere, and American sports on big screen TVs and Benjamins American Diner is quite possibly the best American restaurant in the entire region, if not in all of Germany.  The unique buffet specials also add a special flair to this establishment that will have diners coming back for more.

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Summary:

Hands down the best diner in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan region, Benjamins American Diner dishes up authentic, quintessential American style cuisine, including traditional American breakfast items, burgers, sandwiches, BBQ ribs, steaks, and chicken wings, in a classic, retro style diner.  Prices reasonable.  Excellent American style service.  All-You-Can-Eat: Mondays – Ribs, Wednesday – Wings, Sunday – Breakfast.  Reservations highly recommended.  Home of the XXL 2 kg burger – the largest of its kind in the city and perhaps in the region!  Major American credit cards accepted.

Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM – 11 PM 
        Saturday: 9:00 AMMidnight
        Sunday: 9:00 AM – 11 PM

 

Overall – 5 stars

  • Onion Rings – 4.5/5
  • XXL Burger – 5/5
  • French Fries – 4/5
  • Seasoned Fries – 3/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.benjamins-diner.de

Written by geschmack

July 16th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Mannheim

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Andalucia Spanisches Restaurant

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U 6, 8 68161 Mannheim

As I step into Andalucia Spanish Restaurant a few minutes before they official open, I kindly ask out loud, using my newly found Spanish skills, ¿está abierto?  A Spanish gentleman standing behind the bar smiles and replies ¿por qué no?  He leads me to a prime table next to the windows, ample light streaming through, lights a candle resting on the table, and immediately brings a menu.  Whereas some restaurants would demand that you wait until they open, the casual attitude and welcoming hospitality shines here at Andalucia.

 

Inside, the ambiance is rustic Spanish with hints of modernity mixed in.  Posters of singers and dancers are plastered all around on the walls.  Tiny bottles of spirits are stringed together and hung on the ceiling.  Different postcards and foreign currency are attached near the bar area.  Various souvenirs and antiques, including ancient typewriters, radios, musical instruments, and fine tapestry, add a unique touch to the room, but also create a somewhat cluttered and fussy mess.

To put it in perspective, all of the decorations greatly contrast with the elegant, white tablecloth covered dining tables.  It’s a sure head-scratcher.  The tables are positioned around an elevated stage in the front corner of the restaurant, where live entertainment is performed at night.  Sort of reminds you of a modern version of the nightclub in I Love Lucy.  When there isn’t a show going on, Spanish language canciones play throughout the dining room and add that authentic flair.  Sitting in here, it’s easy to forget you are in Germany.

 

On the menu is a huge selection of tapas, including chorizo, gambas, calamares, mussels, sardines, and artichokes.  Gazpacho can also be found.  Paella and different types of seafood highlight the list of main dishes here, but meat lovers can also find chicken, lamb, and steaks here.  An entire page devoted to Spanish regional wines is featured in the back of the menu (you can also see countless bottles of wine stored throughout the restaurant).  After all, what’s Spanish comida without vino?

A complimentary bread basket, paired with allioli (Spanish aioli), is presented to each table, providing guests with an excellent precursor to the main meal.  Good complimentary items are always a good indication of superb food.  The white bread is fresh, soft, and absolutely amazing when paired with the garlic and olive oil sauce.  The allioli has such an intense, concentrated flavor that it leaves you wanting more, and more.  It is so potent that, hours after you leave the restaurant, you will still have this delectable garlic taste lingering in your mouth.

 

A potato egg omelet, Tortilla de Patatas seems like a rather simple dish.  But the flavor and texture is unbeatable.  The vibrant yellow omelet is as delicate as a slice of cake – the potatoes and eggs just dissolve in your mouth upon contact.  Eggs are fluffy like flawlessly scrambled eggs; potatoes are cooked until soft and are buttery.  Although the outer layer appears burnt, you wouldn’t even notice it in the taste.  Also on the dish are slices of cucumbers and a lettuce leaf that also go well with the potato omelet.  Tortilla de Patatas is an excellent starter, hands down.

 

Pechuga de Pollo a la Plancha – grilled chicken breasts – is a breathtaking presentation served with perfectly fried potatoes and a medley of colorful vegetables – bell peppers, onions, green peas, as well as a side salad of shredded carrots, raw onions, cucumbers, and lettuce.  The chicken breasts are superb, every bite juicy and succulent.  Well seasoned and perfectly grilled, the meat is to die for and matches with the potatoes and vegetables extremely well.  The thick slices of melt-in-your-mouth potatoes are masterfully prepared.  The salad is rather austere, though the carrots add a nice hint of sweetness.  Each element dances the flamenco, or the salsa, or the tango in your mouth, depending on how you coordinate it.  Price for the entire dish is a tad steep (13,90 €), but the flavors are on par and presentation is picture perfect.

The service is exquisite and utterly attentive.  Very courteous and friendly, the Spanish staff further adds to the brilliant dining experience and make for a relaxed evening.  The only shortcoming about the restaurant is possibly the long wait time.  The chefs prepare each dish to order and ensure beautiful presentation so finely that it may take fifteen to twenty minutes for your entrée to arrive at your table.  However, regardless of what you order, your patience will certainly be rewarded.

If you are unable to afford a flight to the southern region of Spain for a taste of authentic Spanish cuisine, Andalucia Spanish Restaurant in Mannheim is quite possibly the next best thing.  All of the dishes, from the tapas to the main entrées, are superbly executed, delicious by any measure.  Add in the extraordinary selection of dishes, live entertainment, and outstanding service and you have a successful restaurant.  Andalucia represents Spain extremely well and deserves a visit.  ¡Buen provecho!

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Summary:

Andalucia is THE Spanish restaurant to go for traditional Spanish cuisine.  From a wide selection of tapas, to freshly prepared seafood and meats, to mouthwatering desserts, along with live Flamenco dancing on specific nights, Andalucia offers a truly authentic Spanish flair in a cozy dining environment.  Pleasant dining area outside, in front of the restaurant.  Prices reasonable.  Service extremely friendly and amiable.  Spanish spoken.  Highly recommended.

Hours: Daily: 5:00 PM – 5:00 AM

 

Overall – 5 stars

  • Tortilla de Patatas – 5/5
  • Pechuga de Pollo a la Plancha – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.andalucia1.de/

Written by geschmack

June 19th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Enchilada

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S 4, 17 – 22 68161 Mannheim

Mexican cuisine has a poor reputation in Germany.  You won’t find any popular Mexican style fast food joints.   There aren’t any Taco Bells (except on selected army bases), Del Tacos, or Chipotle Mexican Grills.  Surprisingly, though, there is one franchise chain of Mexican restaurants, located throughout Germany, called Enchilada.  Considering that it has 25 locations in several major German cities, the food there has to be great, right?

Enchilada’s dining area has sort of an old, pueblo style / southwestern type of architecture that fits the Mexican theme.  With wooden tables and chairs, the seating isn’t overly spectacular.  The overall mood here is casual and relaxed, suitable for such an establishment.  A few plants add color and life to the place.  There are a few Aztec style objects decorating the spacious room.  Plenty of seating is available inside.  Beats from Spanish canciones play throughout the dining area and brings that rhythmic excitement.

 

As Enchilada is not only a restaurant, but also a bar, there are a good number of drinks to be found.  A separate drinks menu features an extraordinary list of cocktails and beverages.  A variety of margaritas, coladas, caipi drinks, rum drinks, tequilas, vodkas, and jumbos can all be found.  Popular here is the special Happy Hour every evening from 6 to 8 PM when all cocktails are half off.   Unique beers can also be ordered, including Mexico’s top selling beer – Corona.  There is also a homemade beer as well as a Spanish imported beer, aside from the usual Pils.

The menu is quintessential Tex-Mex.  On the list of appetizers are chips and dip, nachos, potato skins, breads, and taquitos.  There are chimichangas, chili con carne, steaks, Buffalo wings, baked potatoes, and fajitas.  Naturally, enchiladas are listed.  Quesadillas, tacos, and burritos are also featured.  After all, what’s a Mexican restaurant without tacos and burritos?

 

The variety of fajitas is rather striking.  You can order fajitas with prawns, beef strips, strips of chicken breast, turkey, or even lamb medallions.  Additionally, there is a vegetarian fajita featuring seasonal vegetables.  Each grilled specialty comes with a stack of 5 flour tortillas and a condiment platter consisting of coleslaw, shredded cheese, jalapeños, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole in small containers, and diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and green lettuce.

The Fajita Parilla includes strips of South American beef in a medley of green, yellow, and red bell peppers and onions.  Served sizzling on a thin cast iron skillet pan, it is sure to turn heads from other curious diners.  The fajitas have excellent flavor and aroma; they’re well seasoned, the peppers are sweet and crunchy, and the beef is juicy and tender and isn’t chewy.  The only negative is the abysmal portion size.  The star of the meal fails to make its presence known.

 

Tortillas, made from wheat flour, are served in a beautiful woven basket with lid, kept warm by a small heated plate turned upside down at the bottom of the basket.  Though not made fresh in the kitchens, the tortillas are soft and have great flavor.

Condiments accompanying the fajitas and tortillas are a huge letdown.  With its large array of colors, the platter certainly looks appealing.  It screams Mexico’s colors (red, white, and green – salsa, sour cream, and guacamole).

 

But aside from the tomatoes and cucumbers, the items on the plate appear far from fresh.  The green leaf lettuce is extremely dry and simply looks old.  The white shredded cheese is beginning to melt – a clear sign of improper storage.  Health inspector, anyone?  The coleslaw has way too much mayonnaise and is overly creamy.  It tastes more like German kraut than summertime slaw.  Simply adding carrots to the cabbage doesn’t qualify it as coleslaw.  Jalapeños are also dry and obviously come from a can.  The guacamole has seen better days – it was probably made at corporate kitchen headquarters and transported days ago.  Moreover, there aren’t any chunks of avocado inside; it’s only a smooth, pale green dip.  The sour cream is served in the same container as the salsa, making it runny.  The salsa, though, has a decent amount of heat.  Taken as a whole, the condiment platter is a disgrace to Mexican cuisine.

By the way, what kind of Mexican restaurant serves coleslaw with fajitas?  Rice and beans can be ordered separately, but with the steep price of the fajita plate – 14,70 € – you would have expected these classic Mexican staples to be served with the grilled meat.  The condiment platter, as is, invites diners to build their own mini burrito.  However, the miserable amount of meat makes it extremely difficult to fully enjoy the meal.  With the cheese melting a bit, though, it does make for a good quesadilla!

 

Desserts warrant applause.  Despite only offering 3 postres on the menu – churros, a sweet chimichanga with ice cream, and flautas plátanos – they are executed quite well.  The Flautas Plátano consists of a wheat flour tortilla, wrapped around a sweet banana, and lightly baked until crisp.  Served with delicate whipped cream, a scoop of smooth Mövenpick vanilla ice cream, a fruity strawberry ragout, topped with powdered sugar, and drizzled with chocolate sauce, the dish looks marvelous.  The tortilla tastes like a shortbread crust for pie; the heavenly combination of bananas and strawberries makes it even more dazzling.  This dessert is not only creative and luscious, but also makes you forget about the lackluster main dish.  At 4,30 €, it is also reasonably priced.

Enchilada deserves credit for becoming a reasonably successful franchise throughout Germany.  With its daily Happy Hour specials, a cozy and spacious dining room, and commendable service, Enchilada is a great place to go with friends and enjoy cocktails.  But, at the same time, the restaurant tries too hard to be truly Mexican.  Enchilada already has the blueprints for a thriving establishment – the menu is exciting, the drinks plenty, and the atmosphere admirable.  Only the food needs significant improvement.  Once Enchilada brings in a seasoned chef to change up the cooking techniques and freshen up the ingredients, it will continue serving up sub par Mexican cuisine to mostly unseasoned diners.

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Summary:

With more than 20 restaurants located all over Germany, Enchilada is a successful franchise chain of Mexican themed restaurants.  Although not truly authentic Mexican cuisine, Enchilada makes a reasonable attempt at cooking up Tex-Mex dishes that will adequately satiate your hungry for tacos, burritos, and fajitas.  Overall prices moderate.  Specials: Happy Hour every evening from 6 to 8 PM – all cocktails at half price.  Special Enchilada Hour beginning at 11 PM – all margaritas and jumbos at half price.

Hours: Daily: 6:00 PM – 1:00 AM

 

Overall – 3.5 stars

  • Fajitas Parilla – 3/5
    • Beef Fajitas with Onions & Bell Peppers – 4/5
    • Flour Tortillas – 4/5
    • Side Platter – 1/5
  • Flautas Plátano – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.enchilada.de/

Written by geschmack

June 8th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Mannheim

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China Restaurant Pavillon

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China Restaurant Pavillon

Augustaanlage 59 68165 Mannheim                              CLOSED

Small matching plates and steamer baskets of hot, delectable delights arrive one after another – radish cakes, rice noodles rolls, delicate dumplings, and fluffy steamed buns.  Fiery chili sauce comes on a saucer.  Hot Chinese tea is delivered in a tiny pot and accompanied by a cute teacup and sugar bowl.  Soon, the once bare table is brimming with mouth-watering excitement.  It’s the experience at China Restaurant Pavillon – one of the few Chinese restaurants in the area offering dim sum on the menu.

China Restaurant Jasmin Tee_SM

Dim sum is a specialty of Chinese cuisine (a Cantonese invention).  Usually eaten during the midday hours as a light snack, it consists of a collection of small dishes intended to be shared amongst family and friends.  Each plate typically includes about three or four small servings; thus, a variety of dishes is generally ordered.  Tea is an integral part of this meal and aids in digestion.  Dim sum is about eating, sharing, and enjoying the company of others.  It’s more than just a meal, it’s an experience.  In frequently visited Chinese restaurants, attendees roll carts carrying hot plates of dim sum and diners pick and choose dishes from the wagons as they pass along.  At other places, dim sum is ordered off a menu and cooked to order.

At China Restaurant Pavillon (German for pavilion) in Mannheim, and basically in all of Germany, the latter approach is taken.  Unfortunately, as there isn’t a large Chinese presence here, dim sum isn’t as popular as it is in the United States or in Asian countries.  Chinatowns are also nonexistent.

 

 

However, China Restaurant Pavillon does an excellent job in capturing the essence of Chinese architecture and décor.  The restaurant’s exterior is something one would typically find in a Chinatown – the arches and lanterns are classic examples.  Inside, the bar area is again decorated with the fine-looking pavilion arches.  Greeting guests upon entrance is a colorful panel impressively depicting beautiful scenery.  Blue is prominently used throughout the dining room, from the light blue colored carpets, to the cushioned armless chairs, the elegant candles, the tiled ceiling panels, and the fine tablecloth covers.  Reaffirming the idea of a relaxing pavilion, the blue color scheme exudes a feeling of calmness, relaxation, and revitalization.

Written in Romanized Chinese, Chinese, and with German descriptions, the dim sum menu here is on a separate laminated folio inside the core menu booklet.  There is an impressive array of dim sum dishes to be had, including dumplings filled with shrimp or pork, both savory and sweet steamed buns, rice noodle rolls containing various fillings, and baked sesame balls for dessert.  Chicken feet – a culinary delicacy in many parts of the world – can also be ordered.  Each dim sum plate averages around 3 to 4 euros, which is grossly overpriced.

The luó bo gāo (radish cakes) are unexpectedly pan-fried crisp.  Although the resulting crunchy outer layer provides a nice texture, the interior is overly gummy and soft, like a paste.  Missing from the radish mixture are the additional ingredients normally found elsewhere, chopped up pieces of dried shrimp in particular.  These radish cakes taste more like hash browns than good Chinese radish cakes.

 

The Cha Shao Hua Cheong Fun (rice noodle rolls with BBQ pork) are too greasy and poorly constructed.  Typically, the rolls would be swimming in sweetened soy sauce; here, they are soaking in oil.  The BBQ pork is also disappointing.  The complex, intense flavor of Chinese barbequed pork is absent in the pieces of meat.  Only hints of it are present.  Adding to the mess are the overcooked rice noodles themselves.  The result is a gooey clutter of rice sheets and bite sized pork pieces in a scant amount of soy sauce that will have you yearning for better days.

 

Fortunately, the items served in bamboo steamer baskets are vast improvements and are well executed.  Shao Mai – a Chinese dumpling with ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms – is moist and flavorful.

 

The 2 buns – Cha Shao Bau and Nai Huang Bao – are fluffy and irresistible.  The buns themselves are delicately soft and a pleasure to eat alone.  Cha Shao Bau has the BBQ pork filling, which is a lot better than the pork inside the noodle rolls.  It makes you wonder if the same pork is used is both dishes.  This filling is very tasty.  The Nai Huang Bao is filled with sweet yellow custard (made from egg and dried milk) and is a fantastic finish to a dim sum meal.

The standard menu here is well-conceived.  Boasting over a hundred different items, China Restaurant Pavillon has a menu that offers many house specialties, from roasted duck to hot pots.  Multi-course items can be ordered for entire families or groups of two.  The weekday lunch menu is a good value, as is the daily lunch buffet.  The list of drinks is fairly impressive, with many teas, wines, and alcoholic beverages.  Unexpected is the large number of wines from around Europe, from Spain, France, and Germany.

 

Waitresses are soft-spoken, but very accommodating.  The service is smooth and prompt.

Despite the mixed bag of flavors and the dim sum’s steep prices, China Restaurant Pavillon deserves credit for even putting dim sum on the menu.  In this Rhein-Neckar region, you will be hard pressed merely finding a Chinese restaurant serving up these unique dishes.  With its exquisite and elegant dining room, hospitable service, and large selection of menu items, China Restaurant Pavillon merits a visit from anyone yearning for a venture into traditional Chinese cuisine.

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Summary:

Located in Mannheim’s business district, not far from the Planetarium, China Restaurant Pavillon is a classic Chinese restaurant featuring a plethora of traditional Chinese dishes, including dim sum.  The weekday lunch buffet, as well as the special lunch menu, is good value.  Overall prices (aside from the dim sum) are reasonable.  Outdoor seating available during those beautiful, sunny days.

Hours: Weekdays: 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM and 5:30 – 11:30 PM
            Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 11:30 AM – 11:30 PM

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Luó Bo Gāo – 2.5/5
  • Cha Shao Hua Cheong Fun – 3/5
  • Shao Mai – 4/5
  • Cha Shao Bao – 4.5/5
  • Nai Huang Bao – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.chinapavillon.net/

Written by geschmack

June 5th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

City Döner (Updated)

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City Döner

Willy-Brandt Platz 5 68161 Mannheim

Four huge döner roasts stand on rotating spits behind the counter.  The sheer amount of poultry meat is enough to feed an entire army.  Orders are taken three, four, even five at a time as the workers cooperate together and form an assembly line to get them taken care of in timely fashion.  Freshly made flatbread gets rolled out in one corner, döner meat is newly shaved from the spit, and crisp vegetables are scooped heavily onto bread – all happening simultaneously in the tight area behind the counter while another worker takes care of the orders.  The place is busy, but the employees don’t miss a beat.  This is the scene at City Döner in Mannheim.

Like any other establishment that sells pizza and döner (or any fast food establishment for that matter), City Döner has a large menu board displaying all the items available.  Aside from the standard döner plates, falafels, Lahmacun, Pide, and calzones, there are also grill specialties, including lamb cutlets and skewers.  Turkish specialties, including Börek and Sigara Böreği, also find their way onto the menu.  Vegetarian döners and plates can also be ordered.  Chilled beverages sit in a refrigerator next to the cashier and include standard sodas and the like.

 

At 4,50 €, the Yufka Döner is a definite must.  Containing essentially the same ingredients as a Döner Kebab, a Yufka Döner makes use of a round, thin flatbread instead of thick flatbread.  This thin flatbread, or Yufka, is similar to a tortilla.  The filling – sliced tomatoes, shredded red cabbage, green lettuce, raw onions, and chicken / turkey döner all topped with yogurt sauce – is placed inside the flatbread and wrapped like a burrito.  What makes the Yufka at City Döner stand out is the amount of filling – the thing almost weighs a pound and is about a foot long!  Eating this Goliath is a tricky task in itself as the seams basically burst open after the first bite.

The flavor inside the yufka is plain solid.  The chicken / turkey meat is juicy and packed with seasonings – exceptional and delicious.  Flatbread is soft and delicate, baked until slightly crisp.  Vegetables provide the right amount of crunch and texture.  The portion size of the meat and vegetables is more than generous.

Despite all of this meat, however, the Yufka suffers from a lack of sauce.  Maybe the meat and veggies soak it all up.   Each bite is dominated by the saltiness of the meat as opposed to a harmonic balance of flavors.  Yet, in spite of this minor setback, the Yufka is certainly worth ordering.  The messiness associated with eating such a huge wrap makes the meal fun and challenging at the same time.

 

You also can’t go wrong with the Dönerteller (Döner Plate).  Here at City Döner, you have the option of ordering a plate with either rice, fries, pasta noodles, or without any of the above starchy foods.  Each döner plate is served with a cool green salad consisting of chopped lettuce, shredded carrots, red cabbage, diced cucumbers, green and red bell peppers, and a slice of tomato.  Parsley is garnished over the vegetables.  Yogurt sauce is squeezed all over the top of the plate.

Each plate is also accompanied by a piece of flat bread served in a basket.  The complete Dönerteller amounts to 7,00 €; without rice, fries, or noodles, 6,50 €.  Clearly, 7 euros is slightly more expensive than a similar plate at other döner places.  However, this price difference is easily made up by the overly generous amount of meat piled high on the plate and the warm piece of bread on the side.

In terms of flavor, the Dönerteller with rice at City Döner is by far the best plate of döner and rice thus far.  The Turkish style rice pilaf consists of white rice and scant amounts of orzo.  Both the rice and döner glisten in the afternoon sun like expensive jewelry.  The pearls of rice are delicate, creamy, and have a distinct, slightly sticky nature.  Combined with the dangerously addicting and succulent pieces of poultry, this plate works like a charm.  It’s sort of reminiscent of a delicious bowl of teriyaki chicken and rice (but, of course, without the teriyaki!).  Include the refreshing side salad and the impressive amount of yogurt sauce on top and you have yourself a completely satisfying meal.  Although presentation is lacking (the dish looks like a colorful snow covered mountain), the flavors work wonderfully on all levels.

Serving up colossal döners at competitor’s prices, City Döner may very well be one of the best in the city.  With essentially round the clock hours, this kebab joint can be relied on for that quick döner fix.  But it also has you wondering – who would want döner or pizza in the morning?  Maybe they should come out with some sort of breakfast Yufka Döner, one with scrambled eggs, döner meat, and cheese in Turkish flatbread – sort of like a breakfast burrito – or a Breakfast Dönerteller with pancakes.  Now that would be something to see!

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Summary:

With its excellent location directly across from the Mannheim main train station, City Döner is a popular fast food joint serving up gigantic portions of delicious döner and pizza.  Practically open day and night.  Only poultry döner available.  Outdoor seating available during the spring and summer.  Extremely quick and efficient service.

Hours: Monday – Thursday, Sunday: 6:00 AM – 4:00 AM
            Friday, Saturday:6:00 AM – 5:00 AM 

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Yufka Döner – 4.5/5
  • Dönerteller mit Reis (Döner Plate with Rice) – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

May 25th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Sushi Circle

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Q 7,16 68161 Mannheim

Color coded plates, topped with eye pleasing, intriguing bite sized morsels of food, steadily move down the line as patrons watch with amazement.  Even passers-by take a few moments to peek in through the windows to take in the show.  Is this some sort of assembly production line?  No!  It’s the conveyor belt at Sushi Circle, where sushi train style of service is implemented.  With the widespread popularity of sushi in Germany, it was only a matter of time before conveyor belt sushi made its way here.

To my surprise, Sushi Circle was incredibly hard to find.  I was literally walking around in circles, going around the Q block in Mannheim, trying to find this particular sushi bar.  The problem is that the adjacent building is currently under construction.  Thus, the restaurant front is obstructed by scaffolding and made even more unattractive by the presence of a Porta-Potty.  The pedestrian sidewalk is also made narrower right in front of the place.

With all of these minor setbacks, Sushi Circle is like a hidden gem tucked away from plain sight.  The interior is modern, well designed, and well lit.  The conveyor belt and surrounding counter seats are rightfully positioned in the center of the restaurant.  At each polished wooden seat, there is a graphic placemat presenting all of the featured types of sushi, along with their respective prices.  Bottles of Kikkoman soy sauce – original and sweet – are positioned all along the line.  Plates with sliced pickled ginger and dollops of wasabi are free and can be picked up off of the conveyor.  Sitting in one of the wooden seats, you are easily within reach of any plate.  The conveyor belt itself moves at a slow pace in a counterclockwise direction, making it easy to grab them.  In order to simplify the entire process, each plate has a specific color signifying a particular price.  For instance, food items on plates with a blue rim are 0,95 €, red plates are 1,95 €, and yellow ones are 2,95 €.

The mere idea of a rotating conveyor belt with plates of well-presented sushi is truly a sight to see and definitely something to experience.   If you are not big on sushi, Sushi Circle still offers something for you.  Here, you can find soups (Miso soup or Udon noodles in soup), salads, yakitori, egg rolls, and samosas.  With the exception of the soups, which must be ordered separately, all of these items can be found on the conveyor.  If, for some reason, you are unable to find a particular type of sushi (perhaps another guest took the last plate), you can simply ask one of the sushi chefs behind the counter.  For dessert, there is a fruit salad plate, sesame balls, and also various muffins.  Muffins?  That’s right, Sushi Circle offers chocolate and vanilla muffins on the line.

 

If the thought of a moving line of Japanese food still doesn’t appeal to you, Sushi Circle also has a special lunch menu for the extremely attractive price of 7,50 €.  Included is your choice of soup, 3 plates of any color, and unlimited tea (either green or Jasmine tea).

The chicken Udon noodle soup is served extremely hot.  The chicken broth is clear, but only mildly flavored.  Adding a little hint of soy sauce will provide that extra jolt of flavor.  The udon noodles are firm and cooked well.  Obviously, they aren’t homemade, but acceptable.  Included in the soup are small chunks of chicken breast, chopped green onion, and pieces of crisp red, yellow, and green bell peppers.  Overall, this udon noodle soup is decent, but you can find a more traditional bowl elsewhere.  It just tastes a bit westernized.

 

Some of the sushi plates include various types of Maki, nigiri, inari, and inside out rolls.  Unfortunately, the Sushi Circle here does not have any California rolls.  The Inari sushi had to be ordered from the sushi chef, but he was happy to make it.  Watching the sushi chef make it, you can see that the fried tofu skin pouch has been marinating in a dark soy sauce mixture for a while.  Although the inari isn’t as sweet as I had preferred, it is still delicious nonetheless.  Being freshly made makes it even better.

 

One of the inside-out sushi rolls has cress herbs all around the outside, with crab meat and avocado stuffed in the center.  The combination is interesting and the flavor follows suit.

You can also find yakitori – grilled chicken skewers, glazed with a thick teriyaki sauce and garnished with sesame seeds.  Although 4 pieces may seem small, the flavor is concentrated.  The sauce is more savory than sweet and the sesame seeds add a wonderful dimension to the chicken.  One drawback is that the chicken is rather cold – it would be amazing served hot off the grill.

 

For dessert, you might want to try the sesame balls.  These little globes are made from rice flour and stuffed with a plum paste.  The inner core is only slightly sweet; the strawberry jelly and custard cream decorating the plate supplies even more sweetness to this treat.  Unlike some places, where they skimp on the filling, these pastries are fairly well crammed with delectable plum paste.

 

The service at Mannheim’s Sushi Circle is remarkable.  The German server is extremely attentive and always has a smile on her face.  She even visits a few times during the course of the meal to ask if everything is going well.  The Japanese sushi chef is also friendly and free to chat.  Today’s visit probably ranks as one of the best overall experiences in Germany in terms of service.

One potential problem associated with having prepared foods, including raw fish, sitting on a conveyor belt is the health hazards.  Sushi Circle addresses this by using a coded system, ensuring that food items containing raw fish are not kept longer than 2 hours on the line.  This guarantee is somewhat assuring, however for the other items, such as the chicken yakitori and even the sushi, it can still be a concern.  When the restaurant is not brimming with guests and there isn’t a fast turnover on the plates, the items can start losing their quality – the sushi can eventually become dry and the chicken even colder.

Nonetheless, Sushi Circle is well worth the visit.  Not only is the food exquisite and the service flawless, but the price of the lunch menu is unbeatable.  With the large variety of plates to sample, another visit is definitely foreseeable in the near future!

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Summary:

With 18 restaurants located all around Germany, Sushi Circle is a growing chain of sushi bar restaurants featuring rotating conveyor belt sushi.  In addition to a large assortment of sushi, Sushi Circle also serves other Japanese food, including soups, sashimi, yakkitori, salads, desserts, and tea.  Exceptional service, attentive staff.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM,
           Sundays & Holidays:  4:00 PM – 11:00 PM

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Chicken Udon Soup – 3.5/5
  • Inari Sushi – 4/5
  • Yakitori (Chicken) – 4/5
  • Inside Out Sushi (Crab Meat) – 4/5
  • Sesame Balls – 4/5
  • Service – 5/5

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www.sushi-circle.de/

Written by geschmack

April 12th, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Posted in Mannheim

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Little Saigon

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Seckenheimer Strasse 81 68165 Mannheim

Despite another Vietnamese restaurant with ‘Saigon’ on its storefront, I was eager to go out and find a good place that does justice to phở here in Germany – even if it means having to travel great lengths for that one tasty bowl of white rice noodle soup.  The ongoing search takes me to the city of Mannheim to one of the handful of Vietnamese restaurants in the city – Little Saigon.

  

From the outside, with its plain paint color, Little Saigon looks like any ordinary shop.  Without noticing the menu encased in glass, you may think it a specialty store selling exotic antiques.  Inside, though, the restaurant exudes a tropical vibe with the bamboo themed décor.  On the ceilings are various Asian ornaments.  The tables are elaborately set with folded napkins and a vase filled with flowers.  The dining room is simple, yet charming and lovely.

The menu here is quite extensive, well organized, and certainly appealing.  Written in Vietnamese with descriptions in both German and English, it is also pretty accessible.  There are specialties of the house priced around 15 €, as well as traditional Vietnamese soups, salads, and snacks.  Main courses include a plethora of chicken, pork, beef, duck, and fish dishes – even a fondue meal for 2 people!  For vegetarians, there are a few dishes specifically to meet your needs.  Traditional Vietnamese desserts and drinks can also be found on the menu.

 

For a neat little show, order the Vietnamese coffee, prepared traditionally in front of your eyes.  At 3,50 €, the coffee is pricier than the average brew, but this one is made with sweetened condensed milk.  The dark coffee is individually brewed in a glass cup using a Vietnamese drip filter.  As you eat your appetizer or mingle with your friends, you can watch the coffee slowly drip over the condensed milk.  After a while, one of the servers takes away the hot metal filter, leaving you free to stir the concoction and enjoy.  Alone, the Vietnamese coffee is strong, but with the sweet milk it is a true treat.  Now if only they served it with a cup of ice, the coffee would be even more enjoyable!

 

The first two items featured on the menu at Little Saigon are two variations of the popular Vietnamese rice noodle phở – one containing slices of beef and the other with strips of chicken.  You may order this soup either as an appetizer, which will set you back 6,90 €, or as a main entrée.

Upon service, the aroma of the chicken phở was truly authentic.  For a moment, it was reminiscent of Southern California phở eateries.  Glancing into the bowl, the soup looked clear but was teeming with various green vegetables, bean sprouts, and red onions.  Not a single piece of chicken and only a few strands of rice noodle were visible – not a good sign.   Sipping the broth for the first time brought on a major amount of displeasure.   The true essence of phở was masked by the overly aggressive amount of acidity already added into the bowl.  Although there was a good amount of chicken pieces under the cover of greens, both white and dark meat, and a small portion of firm rice noodles, the overall taste and flavor combination was off.  Essentially, the chicken phở is a sour chicken noodle soup.  Seriously, what is wrong with this region?  Can’t anyone find a tasty bowl of white rice noodle soup served with the garnishes on the side?  Add to it the hefty price tag and you will definitely be unsatisfied for the rest of the day.

 

Fortunately, to alleviate the damage done to your wallet, Little Saigon offers a daily lunch menu with prices ranging from 6 to 9 €.  An order comes with your choice of the soup of the day (today it is spinach soup) or two vegetarian spring rolls.  The vegetarian spring rolls come with a light fish sauce based dipping sauce.  Despite being petite and barely filled, these rolls are hot, crispy, and bursting with flavor.  The small amount of vegetables and rice vermicelli packs a lot of flavor.  Of course, the delightfully light dipping sauce augments the taste superbly.

One of the items on the lunch menu is Gà Chiên Giòn – fried slices of chicken served on a bed of cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts in a savory Hoisin sauce.  Also on the plate is a small scoop of white rice and chopped green parsley garnishing the dish.  With the skin fried crisp and the meat juicy and succulent, the chicken is very well done.  The sauce is sort of reminiscent of the red sweet sauce served with Chinese BBQ pork, only it is not thick but watered down.  Allowing the meat to soak up the sauce softens the chicken, but gives it extra flavor.  Moreover, the rice becomes even more manageable after sitting in the sauce.  The dish is tasty and filling, but not overly impressive.

Despite the mixed reviews on the food, the service at Little Saigon is exceptional – the graceful waiting staff do not rush with the service and bombard the guests with dishes, rather they wait until you are finished with a dish (for example, the appetizer) and then proceed from there.  The workers are attentive and often bring a welcoming smile to the table.

Little Saigon has a great environment and extraordinary service.  Despite the moderate prices, the food is acceptable.  With a good selection of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, Little Saigon is worth paying a visit to experience a taste of Southeast Asia.

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Summary:

Situated near the Mannheim planetarium, Little Saigon serves up original Vietnamese cuisine in a quaint, relaxed dining atmosphere.  Excellent service.  Prices moderate.  Lunch menu daily.

Hours: Monday – Friday: 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM,
            Monday – Saturday: 6:00 PM – 11:30 PM
            Closed Sundays

 

Overall – 4 stars

  • Vietnamese Coffee – 4.5/5
  • Spring Rolls – 4.5/5
  • Phở Gà (Chicken & Rice Noodle Soup) – 3/5
  • Gà Chiên Giòn (Fried Slices of Chicken served with Rice and a Hoisin Sauce) – 4/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.little-saigon-restaurant.de/

Written by geschmack

April 6th, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Mannheim

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Vapiano

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Friedrichsplatz 1 68165 Mannheim

Tired of the typical, dull dining experience?  Want something new and fun?  Then Vapiano’s innovative approach to casual restaurant dining is the perfect place to enjoy freshly prepared Italian dishes in a modern, upscale atmosphere!  At Vapiano, you are in complete control of how you want your next Italian meal to go.  Looking for pasta with extra garlic and spicy chili peppers in your dish?  Simply inform the cook preparing your meal.  Vapiano prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients, which is definitely a plus when eating out.

When you first enter a Vapiano restaurant, you are immediately greeted with a couple of cashiers sitting behind a desk.  This is something you would hardly find in a typical European restaurant!  The individuals operating the front desk will welcome you warmly and hand you a ‘chip card’ that is used to record everything you order.  The service staff will briefly explain how everything works and then you are let go to choose exactly what you wish to eat.

 

Once you have your card, you can grab a food tray along with silverware, napkins, and glass cups.  You won’t find any waiters here; Vapiano is all about self service.  Scattered around the restaurant are clearly marked stations where you can order pastas, pizzas, or salads (insalate).   There is also a bar station where you can order drinks and desserts.  At each food station, you simply tell the cook which item you want off the menu and he or she prepares it according to your own personal wishes, right before your eyes!  At the pasta station, for instance, you have an option of around twenty different homemade sauces / toppings to pair with about ten various varieties of pasta.  Here, they have pappardelle, spaghetti, penne, linguine, conchiglie, campanelle, tagliatelle, fusilli, as well as a couple of whole wheat pasta noodles.  All of the ingredients – the vegetables, the pasta, the pizza dough, and the cheeses – are fresh.  Once your dish is finished cooking, you simply hold up your ‘chip card’ to the scanner and the worker there records the items.  Payment takes place once you are done eating; simply present the card to the cashier at the front desk and pay.  This creative use of technology is quite interesting and a relatively new approach to casual dining.

The actual dining area is scattered between the various stations.  At this Vapiano location in Mannheim, there are two floors of seating.  During the beautiful spring and summer months, outdoor tables are also available.  The seating area near the bar is comfortable and typical of a café house.  Near the food preparation areas, the seating consists of bar stools around a wooden table.  At each dining table, there are bottles of various olive oils and pepper mills.

 

Some of the pasta sauces includes ones with meat, including chicken breast and strips of beef, and also seafood, such as scampi and crayfish.  The Granchi di Fiume is essentially chunks of crayfish meat in an exquisitely delectable lobster sauce.  Including the generous amount of crayfish, the pasta noodles are cooked with minced garlic, diced chili peppers (which are rather spicy), and a lively medley of vegetables including onions, sliced carrots, sweet green beans, and zucchini.  Parmesan cheese garnishes the top of the dish, creating a line through the center.  With pappardelle as my choice of pasta, the entire dish was very well presented and a wonderful meal.  The pasta is cooked al dente and absorbs the flavors of the sauce extremely well.  Moreover, the crayfish is delicate and firm and works well with the other flavors.

But then the entire meal ends disappointingly.  The desserts are not prepared or served by a specific pastry chef, rather, the sweets are plated by a server at the bar station – the same place you order hot and cold beverages.  Most of the desserts are what you would find in an Italian restaurant – tiramisu, panna cotta, ice cream, chocolate cake, and a Mascarpone Crème dessert.  The desserts have already been prepared well in advance; they are sitting in a glass display case, ready to be served.  Not only is this upsetting, but it clearly reminds you that this is also a corporate chain of restaurants.  The panna cotta, at 3,50 €, is a bargain.  Don’t be fooled by the inexpensive price, though – the taste is simply off.  The cooked cream is served in a glass flip storage jar usually reserved for keeping items for a long time.  This should have been a warning to begin with!  Although the panna cotta has bits of vanilla beans inside and is topped with a sweet strawberry sauce, the texture of the cream isn’t as smooth or creamy as it should be.  Rather than a light and delicate touch, the consistency is a tad rubbery and has a manufactured taste.  Even the strawberry sauce could use some work – where are the pieces of fresh strawberries?

 

Overall, Vapiano’s unique concept is fun and refreshing.  Instead of following the traditional tableside service restaurant approach, Vapiano allows for a lot of flexibility and certainly caters to the requests of the individual.  Having the choice between different types of pastas is certainly a good way to attract potential repeat customers as the pasta-sauce combinations are endless.  Fresh ingredients and made-to-order meals are what make Vapiano stand out.  Now, if they would only do something about the desserts…

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Summary:

Utilizing an innovative and trendy approach, Vapiano is a worldwide chain of fast casual dining restaurants offering freshly prepared pizzas, pastas, and salads in a comfortable, upscale environment.  Combining self service with friendly assistance, Vapiano offers a truly unique dining experience.  Highlight: food is prepared fresh right in front of your eyes!

Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 10:00 AM to Midnight.
            Friday, Saturday: 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM

 

Overall – 4 stars

  • Pasta Granchi di Fiume (Crayfish Pasta in Lobster Sauce) – 4.5/5
  • Panna Cotta – 2/5

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www.vapiano.com/

Written by geschmack

March 30th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Speisegaststätte Hemmlein

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S 2,2 68161 Mannheim

A friend of mine, a fellow culinary enthusiast, asked yesterday when I would try the top rated overall restaurant in Mannheim, according to several online outlets.   She’s been there numerous times and keeps idolizing it as the ultimate place to enjoy German cuisine.  It just so happens that I had planned on visiting this establishment on my next restaurant excursion, which happens to be today.  After all, I was in the mood for some delicious German food and Speisegaststätte Hemmlein perfectly fits the bill.

Hemmlein is ideally situated in the Mannheim city centre, a short walking distance from the spacious Mannheim Marktplatz.  The restaurant does not stand along the busy streets, but close enough to them to attract hungry patrons and curious visitors alike.  The menu, which changes practically everyday, covers a good deal of authentic German food – the kind a traditional German mother would make for her family.  The entire place, ranging from the seating to the walls, the menu and the servers, are all old-fashioned.  Taking a simple glance at the single page menu (which is put inside a plastic sheet protector), you get the feeling that it has been done on an old typewriter.  Nothing fancy about it, but it gets the job done.  Heck, even the prices seem dated, which is a good thing.  This is probably one of the least expensive German restaurants in town, considering the portion sizes and quality of ingredients.

The front of the house is adorned with a combination of old black & white photos, framed in antique picture frames, along with recently taken colored group photos.  There’s even a framed list of signatures – an obvious sign of the restaurant’s popularity.  Above the bar area, there are countless trophies – the mark of a champion.  Overall, Hemmlein is not the most eye-candy place to be, but that’s not the main focus here.

 

The food at Hemmlein certainly represents Germany well.  Here, you will find a variety of traditional and authentic German dishes – schnitzel, spätzle, sauerbraten, roasted meat dishes, etc… It’s always interesting to see how different restaurants serve up a simplistic, traditional dish that is schnitzel.

Priced at 8,80 €, the Jägerschnitzel is certainly a bargain.  Two thick slices of meaty pork cutlets, coated in breadcrumbs and fried, are served in a delightfully rich brown mushroom sauce.  The pork pieces are well seasoned and massive enough to make up for the price itself.  A generous, but not overwhelming, amount of sliced mushrooms, browned and tender, top each piece of pork.  The combination of mushrooms and pork is, not surprisingly, tasty.  The juicy pork meat shines here and doesn’t get overshadowed by the mushrooms or gravy.

 

An order of schnitzel comes with a side dish of potatoes and a plate of salad.  Normally, you would be served fries with schnitzel here, but I highly recommend substituting them for Bratkartoffeln (Fried Potatoes).  They are better than most, simply dissolving upon entering your mouth.  The edges of the potatoes are crunchy and crisp, while the insides are buttery and delightful.  A completely simple side dish done right.  The salad isn’t anything special, merely small portions of various veggies to meet your daily requirements.  A salad at Hemmlein consists of bite-sized pieces of green lettuce, white and red shredded cabbage, crisp shredded carrots, and corn and red kidney beans that seem to have come out of a can.   I’ve seen this assortment multiple times at other restaurants.

 

If you happen to still have room for dessert (which most people won’t due to the mammoth portions here), I highly suggest the apple sweets.  The 3,50 € Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) comes with a generous amount of whipped cream and three small scoops of vanilla ice cream.  Simply put, it looks like something that belongs in an ice cream parlor.  The apple strudel is warm and smells great, the pastry jacket is probably the best part.  The filling needs some work as the slices of apple weren’t necessarily sweet.  Eaten together with the cold ice cream, however, the apple pastry is such a pleasurable experience.

Mannheim seems to have some of the best restaurants in Baden-Württemberg.  Not only are the portion sizes more than generous, the price ranges are on the low end and the quality of the dishes is kept at a sophisticated level.  Hemmlein perfectly fits this model.  Even though the owners take a simplistic approach to the other aspects of the restaurant, the food remains the core focus here.

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Summary:

Despite taking a no-frills, simple approach, Hemmlein is one of the best overall German restaurants in the Rhein-Neckar region serving up a large selection of German dishes that are traditionally cooked and served fresh.  Rustic and old-fashioned, Hemmlein features a nice dining atmosphere.  Extremely inexpensive.  Very friendly, warm service.  Reservations recommended.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:00 AM to 9:30 P.M.
               Closed Sundays and Holidays

 

Overall – 5 stars

  • Jägerschnitzel – 4.5/5
  • Bratkartoffeln (Pan-Fried Potatoes) – 5/5
  • Apfelstrudel mit Eis und Sahne (Apple Strudel with Ice Cream and Whipped Cream) – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

March 23rd, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Restaurant Dionysos

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N 2,4 68161 Mannheim

The beef gyros come, swamped in a creamy, red Metaxa sauce and enveloped in bubbling cheese on top, sizzling in a cast iron skillet – the aroma simply irresistible.  The black pan is so hot that the edges continue to sputter for a good few minutes after being placed on the table.  The waiter cautions not to touch the scorching skillet.  Accompanying the main star of the meal is a small side dish filled with house cut fries, crunchy and perfectly cooked, and a scoop of tomato vegetable rice, soft and bursting with flavor.  Finishing off the meal comes a slice of house made cake for dessert, a wonderful end to a dreamy meal.

It’s the baked gyros dish at Restaurant Dionysos, an item listed on their daily lunch menu for a mere 8,50 €.  Each item on this day menu, offered from 11 A.M to 5 P.M, is also served with a cool mixed salad that invigorates diners before the main entrée comes to the table.  All of the items served here are typical Greek dishes, traditionally prepared with Mediterranean flair.  Not only does the food capture the taste of Greece, the restaurant itself is a sight to see.

 

From the outside, Restaurant Dionysos looks expensive – like a Michelin quality, fine dining restaurant.  The wall sized glass windows are simply inviting and welcoming; it plainly screams to people to take a peak inside at the impressive décor and dining area.  Inside, the atmosphere is impressive and pleasing.  The open spaced area is highlighted by the Greek style columns, reminiscent of Ancient Greece.  There are countless statues throughout the dining area, as well as green vegetation that bring life to the entire area.  Near the back of the restaurant is a grand piece of artwork depicting an old Greek tale.  Okay, maybe not, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.  Each table is finely equipped with a calm blue tablecloth, in addition to a single burning candle.  The polished, crafted wooden chairs are padded and comfortable and relaxing.  Overhead chandeliers provide additional light to the room.  Adding to the Greek experience is soothing music playing from the speakers.  Hearing tunes from a bouzouki brings back memories of good times I had with a Greek friend.  It feels like Athens and you can’t help but smile.  Heck, even the napkins are finely decorated and provide a quick lesson in the Greek language for curious diners.

 

Overall, the food itself is likewise impressive.  For starters, the salad is crunchy and refreshing, although not characteristic Greek.  Missing are the olive oil dressing and feta cheese you would normally associate with Greek salad.  Instead, the mixed salad comes with white cabbage, freshly shredded carrots, red kidney beans, corn, and a single unpitted green olive in a creamy dressing sauce.  The white cabbage glistens in the afternoon light, the carrots also a vibrant orange.  Probably more German than Greek, but, hey, it’s eye candy and delicious at the same time.  Plus, the portion size is decent.

 

Next come the gyros, baked in the Metaxa sauce.  Metaxa is a distilled spirit, a blend of brandy and wine.  The sauce itself does wonders to the meat, providing extra flavor to the tender beef.  If you thought gyros and tzatziki was a good combination, wait until you try it with the Metaxa sauce!  At Dionysos, the Metaxa sauce is creamy and slightly peppery – but not spicy at all.  The flavor is definitely concentrated and very effective.

Alone, the gyros are wonderfully cooked and seasoned well.  Each piece of meat is juicy and extremely tender.   But the sauce takes it to an entirely new thrilling level.  The cheese adds that thick, gooey texture, complementing the pleasant taste of the sauce and meat.  Hidden in the dish are chopped onions and green peppers, perfectly softened by the baking process.  Of course, the best part is the crusty little bits of cheese and sauce stuck on the side of the skillet.  It takes effort to scrape them off, but it’s well worth the struggle.  Simply put, the gyros dish is simply to die for!  The portion size is more than generous, with a good amount of meat; you will be savoring each piece until the very last bite.

 

To end the day menu meal is a respectable sized slice of house made cake.  There is a thin layer of chocolate on top and a layer of fruit pudding sandwiched between two levels of delicate cake.  It is somewhat difficult to discern exactly what the middle layer consists of.  Asking the waiter for the name of the cake yielded no definite answer – it is merely a cake made by the kitchen staff.  Although it is not exactly Greek, it is a great end to a grand Greek meal.

If you’re unfamiliar with Greek cuisine, the lunch menu is probably the best way to experience the Mediterranean flavors.  Reasonably priced and generous in size, it’s as if you’ve died and gone… to Athens!  Καλή όρεξη!

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Summary:

Located in the Mannheim city center near city hall, Restaurant Dionysos is a fabulous Greek restaurant offering a wide assortment of traditional Greek dishes.  Quality selection of Greek wines, in addition to a handful of beverages.  Pleasant atmosphere, impressive dining room.  Outdoor seating during the summer months.  Great service.

Hours: Everyday: 11:00 AMMidnight

Overall – 5 stars

  • Gyros überbacken nach Dionysos-Art (Gyros baked with Cheese and Metaxa Sauce) – 5/5
  • Fries – 5/5
  • Rice – 4/5
  • Salad – 4/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.dionysos-mannheim.de/

Written by geschmack

March 16th, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Posted in Mannheim

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