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Alte Gundtei

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Zwingerstraße 15a 69117 Heidelberg

It’s a fact – people of Turkish ethnicity form the largest ethnic minority in Germany.  With more than a couple million people of Turkish descent living here, the cultural influence is clearly evident in the widespread availability of Turkish run fast food shops, namely döner kebab joints.  But there are also numerous restaurants all over the country specializing in traditional Turkish cuisine.  One such restaurant –Alte Gundtei – happens to be situated in the heart of Heidelberg, only a few meters away from the Bergbahn, which leads up to the infamous Heidelberg castle.

 

Inside the double door entrance, Alte Gundtei has quite a visually appealing and pleasant dining atmosphere.  The soft tones painted on the walls pair well with the dark wooden frames and chairs.  Giant colorful light fixtures glitter from the ceilings and provide ample lighting to the room.  Tables are elegantly covered in white tablecloth and adorned with flowers in a vase as well as a candle lit container.  Even the booth seats are fabulously cushioned with fine fixtures.  There’s a pillow at each booth for extra comfort.  All around the window sills are potted plants.  There’s also a statue looking out into the dining room in some of the corners of the restaurant.  Music with a Mediterranean flair blasts from the speakers.  Seating is plenty, but tables are not too far apart.  Thus, when the place gets packed, it can get quite noisy here.

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The list of drinks includes a good number of Turkish specialties, including Turkish mocha and various wines from the country.  A popular Turkish beverage, Ayran, is also listed.  Simply put, it’s a yogurt based drink made of plain yogurt, water, and salt.  As a first timer drinking this beverage, I personally had a difficult time managing the cold drink.  Ayran is thick like a smoothie, but is, of course, salty rather than sweet.  For someone who normally associates yogurt with sweet additives, Ayran will certainly come as a surprise.

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Appetizers are also interesting.  There are baked eggplant starters, as well as several dishes containing cheeses.  A lot of traditional offerings can be found on the menu.

 

 

One particular pastry originating in Turkey is Börek – a flaky pastry filled with feta cheese, herbs, and spices.  Priced at 3,40 €, an order of Börek comes with 3 pastry rolls, a tomato-yogurt based dip, and a small side salad.  The rolls are reasonable stuffed inside thin, flaky phyllo dough; the entire pastry lightly fried until crisp.  Surprisingly, it’s not even greasy.  The phyllo is delicate and falls apart easily.  Altogether, with the crisp outer layers and the soft interior, the Börek has a beautiful flavor.  The tomato yogurt sauce adds another flavorful dimension that heightens the essence of the dish and gives the rolls a creamy element.

Likewise, the listing of main dishes is very extensive.  There are numerous lamb, beef, and fish dishes, along with vegetarian delicacies.  There are even meals for 2, as well as a grand special for a group of 5.

 

Among the many meat entrées on the main menu, the Iskender Kebab is merely OK.  Thinly cut slices of grilled lamb and veal are piled on top of small pieces of flatbread.  Swimming in the dish is a liquid tomato sauce whose scent clearly dominates the dish.  The bread soaks up the tomato sauce quite well and provides even more flavor when eaten in conjunction with the seasoned meat.  Included are a small scoop of long grain rice, cooked quite well, and a portion of boiled dinner vegetables.  The dish is served with a side salad consisting of fresh green lettuce, a sliced tomato, a diced cucumber, sliced carrots, and white cabbage, all in a light herb vinaigrette.  The fresh salad shines in contrast to the dinner vegetables on the main dish – carrots and broccoli and cauliflower florets that seem a bit old (crinkle cut carrots on the plate scream frozen, not fresh!).  Large amounts of yogurt and tomato yogurt sauce are walloped onto the plate, surrounding the slices of meat.

The lamb and veal still retains a hint of gaminess.  Though the addition of spices adds an additional flavor profile, the meat remains somewhat tough and you’ll come across some hard tidbits.  Despite the generous amount of sauce, the scare amount of rice and meat is hard to overlook.  Tack on the 12,50 € price tag and the dish is a disappointment.

 

Desserts are also characteristic Turkish.  Baklava, among others, is a good choice to end your Turkish culinary adventure.  With a good amount of chopped nuts, pistachios, and a rich hint of sweetness between the layers of phyllo dough, this delight will surely satisfy your sweet tooth.  As a nice added touch, a plate of baklava is also served with a freshly sliced sweet seasonal strawberry and some whipped cream.

Alte Gundtei is either hit or miss.  The meal can be up and down depending on what entrées you choose.  With a good location not too far the Heidelberg Bergbahn, a well decorated dining room, and being one of the few such restaurants in the city, I was certainly expecting more from this Turkish restaurant.  Unfortunately, the food at Alte Gundtei simply doesn’t live up to the expectations.  It does, however, have the potential to be so much more.

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Summary:

Situated a short distance away from the base of the Heidelberg Bergbahn, Alte Gundtei is one of the few restaurants in the city specializing in traditional Turkish cuisine.  With an extensive listing of items on the menu, including a large selection of grilled lamb and beef dishes, Alte Gundtei is a decent place to begin your culinary adventure into Turkish delicacies.  Prices moderate.  Service serviceable.  Nice dining ambiance.  Weekly menu available.

Hours: Monday – Sunday, 5:00 PMMidnight 

Overall – 3 stars

  • Börek – 4/5
  • Iskender Kebab – 3/5
  • Baklava – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

April 23rd, 2010 at 10:15 pm

One Response to 'Alte Gundtei'

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  1. Thank you for this excellent review! We are moving to Heidelberg soon and I was looking for a delicious sit down Turkish place for lunch today. This is OUR ticket. Thanks!!

    Nikki

    10 Jun 11 at 5:02 am

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