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Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg AG

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Leyergasse 6 69117 Heidelberg

When it comes to beer, Heidelberg has a handful of options.  Found in numerous restaurants, bars, and cafés on tap, Heidelberger beer is probably the most recognizable as the local Heidelberger Brauerei bottles it for distribution worldwide (particularly the Heidelberger 1603 Pilsener).  But there are also individual brewhouses around town that feature their own unique brew.  In addition to Brauhaus Vetter, there is a brewery east of the Old Bridge called Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg AG.

 

With its long history, Kulturbrauerei (translated: cultural brewery) is a cultural experience in itself.  The establishment is gigantic.  Not only is it grounds for a brewhouse, but it’s also a hotel and restaurant.  There are multiple options for seating here – inside, at the massive dining hall, next door in a cozy, quaint dining room, upstairs in the gallery overlooking the brewhouse, or outside under the warm sun at the beer garden.  Each offers a different dining experience.  Inside the rustic dining room, located adjacent to the large hall, guests will find old wooden tables with small, cozy chairs.  The décor in here makes reference to historic times – black and white framed photographs of the old city buildings conjure up memories of days gone by.

 

 

The menu will not bombard you with a large selection of dishes, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  Diners will find a decent number of regional as well as national German dishes on the paper menu, including Leberkäse and Pfälzer Bratwürste, as well as Schweinebraten and Sauerbraten.  Vegetarians will only find one main dish on the menu – Schafskäse – but there are also salads and soups.

Highlighting the list of drinks is, of course, the house brewed beer.  Three different types of the beer, named Scheffel’s, are available: Kräusen naturtrüb (naturally cloudy), Hefeweizen, and Bier der Jahreszeit (seasonal beer).  A large glass (0,5 liters) will set you back 3,60 €; a small (0,3 liters) 2,70 € (Kräusen costs 2,50 €).  Also on the list are a few red and white wines, along with a small number of hot drinks and alcohol free beverages.  The listings aren’t extensive, but why order anything else besides beer at a brewhouse?

One of the hearty entrées out of the oven is Großmutters Schweinebraten mit Rotkraut und Semmelknödel (Grandma’s German pork roast with red cabbage and bread dumplings).  In this dish, two slices of roasted pork are served in a thick brown gravy with two Knödel dumpling balls.  Red cabbage is also served on the side.  The pork and the accompanying gravy sauce are merely okay.  However, the red cabbage is overwhelmingly tart.  Instead of a balance of sweet and sour, the cabbage dominates the saltiness of the pork and the neutral flavor of the dumpling.

Though red cabbage and dumplings are traditionally paired with German pork roast, the flavor combination here just doesn’t seem to work.  Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but the cabbage hampers any development of flavor as you progress through the meal.  Moreover, the quality of the protein just isn’t up to par.  The pork roast lacks the ideal level of tenderness.  Quality isn’t consistent throughout in the meat.  Although the Knödel includes pieces of bacon, it still maintains a dull, neutral taste.  Even when soaking up the gravy sauce, it just doesn’t do much aside from providing a slight bread-like texture and taste.  Grandmother can’t be pleased with the way her pork roast meal is turning out…

 

Unfortunately, guests looking for something sweet will only have two options here – chocolate mousse or apple strudel.  Each dessert is unreasonably priced at 6,80 €.  Apfelstrudel is a snore.  The dessert is uncreative, unappetizing, and uninspiring.  The apple filling appears dry; the pastry jacket humdrum.  While the apple strudel is warm, it doesn’t taste fresh.  That is, it’s easy to tell that it hadn’t been baked the same day.  Although the vanilla cream sauce and the scoop of vanilla ice cream, as well as the dusted powder sugar on top, try to inject life into the dish, the flavors simply don’t justify the extravagant price tag.  Such a disheartening finisher.

The service at Kulturbrauerei is a little bit shaky.  Despite having multiple workers on staff, getting a server’s attention may take some effort.  Keep in mind the various seating areas, so the staff will be all over the place.  Food out of the kitchen also requires a moderate waiting time.

Kulturbrauerei is one of the few breweries located in Heidelberg.  It’s not a bad place to go to relax and enjoy a taste of local brew and enjoy the pleasant weather outside.  Tourists and locals alike can be seen at this establishment, particularly for said house brewed beer.  But the food remains stuck in the beer’s shadows.  Even with its limited menu selection, the dishes at Kulturbrauerei aren’t executed as well as one would expect.  The flavors don’t shine, the portion sizes and prices don’t match, and the quality just isn’t there.

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Summary:

Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg is a German restaurant, hotel, and brewhouse located on a narrow street off of the Heidelberg Hauptstraße, featuring its own Scheffel’s house brewed beer.   Limited selection of food items on the menu.  Spacious and open dining area.  Plenty of seating options.  Beer garden available outdoors.  House brewed beer available for purchase in 1 or 2 Liter containers.  Prices moderate.  Credit cards not accepted.

Hours: Monday – Thursday, Sunday: 7:00 AM – 1:00 AM
            Friday, Saturday: 7:00 AM – 3:00 AM

 

Overall – 2.5 stars

  • Großmutters Schweinebraten mit Rotkraut und Semmelknödel – 3/5
  • Warmer Apfelstrudel mit Vanille Eis – 1.5/5
  • Service – 4/5

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http://www.heidelberger-kulturbrauerei.de/

Written by geschmack

June 11th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Augustiner-Keller

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Arnulfstrasse 52 80335 München

Hundreds of pairs of eyes are fixed upon the playing field as the action starts picking up.  The pro Bayern München crowd erupts out of their seats in a gigantic roar as they loudly applaud an amazing goal scored by Thomas Müller.  Minutes later, another goal is scored in dramatic fashion as the team takes a commanding lead.  No, it’s not the scene at the Allianz Arena – rather it’s the energetic atmosphere at Augustiner-Keller inside the main beer hall.  What better way to spend a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon in Munich than sitting amongst a bunch of local Bayern München fans, eating traditional Bavarian cuisine, drinking some Augustiner beer, and watching arguably the most popular German football club on the big screen.

 

Augustiner-Keller is conveniently located a few blocks away from the Munich Hauptbahnhof.  The space is quite large and the establishment has its own parking lot.  There are various areas to sit here, including the outdoor beer garden and a large beer hall inside.  Downstairs, you can also sit in the cellar (hence, the name Augustiner-Keller).  Seating inside the main hall is uniquely different from the standard wooden benches and tables you would find at other beer halls.  Here you will find polished wooden tables and dark brown wood chairs.  Along the outer rim, under the windows, you can take in the festivities at a distance, sitting along the wooden wall benches.  The décor is quite old fashioned with a few framed oil paintings of famous individuals on one side of the wall.  Large, aged circular chandeliers provide ample lighting in the hall.  The curved ceilings are marked with several signs and logos.

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The atmosphere is vivacious and spirited.  Before the football match, a live band plays music to the delight of the guests.  Many diners stand proudly and raise their beer glasses to toast.  There are people dancing merrily and drinking with one another.  Some are deep in conversation.  Others enjoy the afternoon as part of a weekly group meeting.  Surprisingly, one of the band leaders downs an entire Maß of beer in spectacular fashion at center stage – clearly reminiscent of a scene from Hollywood.  The excitement pervades throughout the entire hall.

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On the menu is a good selection of Bavarian specialties. Naturally, you will find Augustiner beer featured in the drinks section.  At 7,20 € a liter, the price is comparable to other beer halls.  For a good Bavarian delicacy, try the Augustiner O’bazda.  Priced at 6,90 €, an order comes with 2 scoops of this unique mixture of cheese, butter, spicy paprika, and other spices, along with a single slice of Landbrot bread.  Garnished on top of the Obatzda are sliced raw red onions and chopped green onions.  At Augustiner-Keller, they use Frischkäse (cream cheese) in their Obatzda.  This creates such a smooth and creamy texture that pairs well with the crunchy onions.  Obazda tastes both buttery and cheesy, with the ideal amount of spices added in.  Ideally spread on the bread, the dish is a good accompaniment to beer.  The only downside to this starter is the amount of bread given.  1 piece of Landbrot is simply not enough.  Be sure to order more bread or a pretzel to finish up the cheese spread!

 

Main courses are a mixture of traditional German and Bavarian cuisine.  You will find standard fare such as Schweinshaxe, Schnitzel, roasted meats, and sausages.  Weißwurst is also featured on the menu.  Duck and other poultry can also be had.  There is a mixed platter (Schmankerlplatte – 18,50 €) featuring sliced duck, a piece of schweinshaxe, as well as other meats.  For something simple, yet appetizing, get the 11,20 € Schweinebraten (roasted pork).  A slice of slow roasted pork neck (Halsgrat) is served in its own natural juices, accompanied by a potato dumpling (Kartoffelknödel).  On the side is a small bowl of Blaukraut (red cabbage).  The roasted pork is executed well, succulent and delicious, and holds a lot of flavor.  Typical of pork neck, there is a relatively large section of fat on one side – avoidable if you’re watching your intake, but tasty and having a good consistency when eaten in conjunction with the meat.  Pork skin is good too, initially crisp and then mellow after soaking in the juices.  The knödel has only a slight taste of potato, barely recognizable.  Like the meat, it’s a good item to use to soak up the natural juices of the pork.

Desserts are limited to a few items.  However, you can’t go wrong with the Apfelstrudel (5,30 €).  Topped with powdered sugar and served with a generous amount of warm vanilla cream sauce, the pastry is such a pleasurable experience.  The layers of apples inside the strudel pastry are so flavorful and sweet; the vanilla cream adds that extra dimension.  Eaten all together, the Apfelstrudel and cream explodes in your mouth with flavor.

 

For something different and regional, try the Frische Dampfnudel.  At 5,90 €, it’s a little more expensive than the Apfelstrudel, but it is also a typical southern German dessert and a great way to complete an all Bavarian meal.  Dampfnudel is essentially a type of yeast dough bread – here it is sweetened a bit.  Light and airy, the dampfnudel is akin to a sweet bread roll.  As with the Apfelstrudel, the bread is served in a warm vanilla sauce that gets absorbed well, creating a sweet, dreamy experience.

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During the early afternoon lunch hours, the service is fantastic.  On this day, our polite waiter, Herr Maier, always had a smile on his face.  Extremely attentive, confident, and jolly, he made the dining experience so much better.  Although the hall wasn’t overly busy, Herr Maier’s patience and demeanor throughout the afternoon was superb and top-notch.  Our drink and food orders were taken with care and brought in due time.

Augustiner-Keller is well worth a visit.  Great food, excellent service, and a spirited atmosphere – factors that create a perfect dining experience.  And the final score?  FC Bayern München 3 – VfL Bochum 1848 1 as Müller scored all three goals for an impressive hat-trick.  With the win, FC Bayern secured the top spot in the Bundesliga standings and won the season title.  What a perfect way to end a meal in Munich!

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Summary:

Featuring one of the oldest and largest beer gardens in the city, Augustiner-Keller is an outstanding German restaurant only a few minutes away from the Munich Hauptbahnhof.  Serving up its own Augustiner brew, Augustiner-Keller is a great place to enjoy authentic Bavarian cuisine without encountering the huge number of tourists.  Great service.  Prices reasonable.

Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM 

 

Overall – 5 stars

  • Augustiner O’bazda mit Frischkäse pikant angemacht, Landbrot – 5/5
  • Jungschweinebraten vom Halsgrat mit Kruste, Kartoffelknödel und Blaukraut – 4.5/5
  • Frische Dampfnudel mit Vanillerahmsauce – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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www.augustinerkeller.de/

Written by geschmack

May 1st, 2010 at 11:55 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