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Goldener Hecht

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Steingasse 2 69117 Heidelberg

Like Heidelberg itself, Goldener Hecht (translated as ‘Golden Pike,’ pike as in the fish) is an establishment with a long history.  Since 1717, Goldener Hecht has opened its doors to visitors from around the world.  Today, the colorful murals inside the restaurant and the decorated pages of the menu hint towards the extensive tradition here.  It is said that Goethe himself ventured into this place during one of his visits to Heidelberg and possibly slept there overnight (recorded on the wall).  Images on the walls also depict the Heidelberg flood in 1947, when the Hecht was partly submerged.  Another illustrates a fire that burned the building in 1989.

 

With these dramatic images adorning the walls, the place has a unique and interesting feel.  The dining room itself is homely and inviting.  Wooden tables with carved engravings along with wooden chairs make up the seating arrangements.  Lining the walls is cushioned booth style seating.  Red and white pillows offer added comfort and contribute to the home-style setting.  Selected tables are given the white tablecloth treatment; others are merely equipped with a cloth that streaks down the middle portion of the table.  Wine glasses, turned upside down, await diners at the tables.  Candles are also placed on top.  Various wine bottles sit in different corners all around the restaurant, making it seem a bit more like an Italian restaurant than a traditional German.  There are a few antiques, like old kettles and containers, positioned on shelves adding some décor to the room.  An inner room provides even more seating options.  Written on the walls are some interesting words of wisdom.

On the menu is a mix of familiar and local as well as a few unique dishes.  German and Austrian specialties can be found here at Goldener Hecht.  To start things off, there is a list of appetizers that can also be ordered as a snack in between meals.   A handful of soups are featured, along with a good number of different salads.  Roasted dishes and cuts of Austrian beef and veal highlight the list of main dishes.  Additionally, there are a few vegetarian options.  Small, black chalkboards with the list of desserts are placed on the tables, essentially reminding diners to save room for it.  Sweets include different types of cakes, like Apfelkuchen and Kirschkuchen (cherry cake), as well as an Austrian delight – Kaiserschmarrn.

 

As a main entrée, Leberknödel mit Speckkraut und Kartoffelpüree is liver dumplings served with kraut and mashed potatoes.  Juices from the dumpling form a lake around the three components of the dish, slowly getting soaked up by the cabbage and potatoes.  Two Leberknödel dumplings are served in this dish, topped with chopped chives.  A dollop of mustard provides even more flavor.  The dumplings have a wonderful blend of seasonings that mask the characteristic taste of liver.  Though the liver taste is present, it is not as dominating as one might expect.  Both of the accompaniments pair well with the dumplings.  Fried, sweet onions garnish the mashed potatoes and provide explosions of flavor.  Both the potatoes and kraut are great when eaten in conjunction with the gravy sauce.  A few black peppercorns can be found in the kraut.

The different elements in this dish combine together wonderfully and create an outstanding grouping of flavors and textures.  The mashed potatoes are slightly chunky and creamy; the liver dumplings a somewhat soft texture, like meatloaf; the kraut providing a mild crunch.

 

The featured dessert on the menu is Kaiserschmarrn – a confection consisting of sweet pancake with raisins, dusted with powdered sugar on top.  Delicate and fluffy, Kaiserschmarrn is a traditional Austrian dessert rarely appearing on menus in German restaurants.  To find it here at the Goldener Hecht is an absolute treat.  Served on a fine silver platter, the light dish is accompanied by a delicious plum compote that strikes a fine balance between sweet and sour.  The pancake itself has a fluffy, light texture comparable to perfectly cooked scrambled eggs.  The powdered sugar enhances the flavor of the dish extremely well, rendering the compote almost unnecessary.  However, the plum sauce adds such a novel boost of flavor to the dish.  Plums are plentiful in the compote.  It is served cold and strikes a nice contrast to the warm pancake.

At 7,30 €, the Kaiserschmarrn may seem a tad overpriced for a dessert item.  However, the dish can be easily shared amongst two people.  Eaten alone, Kaiserschmarrn is quite filling and can even be enough for lunch.  Considering the rarity of such a dish in this area, it is definitely worth a taste.

Service is fairly good here.  The female servers wear traditional dirndl dresses underneath their aprons, which add to the authenticity of the German dining experience.  Some of the wait staff members manage to maintain a welcoming smile despite the frenzy in the front of the house; others may not be so warm and hospitable.  Food arrives in an acceptable amount of time.

With its ideal corner location directly off of the Old Bridge, Goldener Hecht draws many diners to its establishment, tourists and locals alike.  The menu is a mixture of regional and national German dishes that are sure to meet any diner’s needs.

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Summary:

Situated facing Heidelberg’s historic Old Bridge, Goldener Hecht is a German restaurant and hotel serving up traditional German and Austrian cuisine in a comfortable, rustic dining atmosphere.  Good service.  Outdoor tables make up a relatively small beer garden that overlooks the grand entrance to the Old Bridge – an ideal spot to sit down and people watch, while having a delicious meal.  Prices moderate.

Hours: Monday – Friday: Noon3:00 PM, 6:00 PMMidnight
Saturdays and Sundays: NoonMidnight

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Leberknödel mit Speckkraut und Kartoffelpüree – 4.5/5
  • Kaiserschmarr’n mit Zwetschgenröster – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.goldener-hecht-heidelberg.eu/

Written by geschmack

July 20th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Brauhaus Vetter

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Steingasse 9 69117 Heidelberg

Simply put, Germany is notorious for its beer.  Ask anyone in the world what they associate with Germany and German products and beer will surely be mentioned.  So what’s a trip to a historic city such as Heidelberg without visiting an old, local brew house?  Brauhaus Vetter, steps away from the historic Old Bridge passing over the Neckar River and the famous Bridge Monkey, is one such brewery known for its own home brewed beer and traditional German cuisine.

 

Take a step inside this old Heidelberg brewery and you will instantly become aware of the two sizeable beer brewing kettles next to the bar area.  The dining area is completely open and spacious, with several large wooden tables and old benches.  The tables are quite large and enough to accompany a total of twelve guests, with three on each side.  In fact, it’s sort of reminiscent of family community seating.  Hence, small groups or solo diners may need to share the table if the restaurant gets packed with patrons.  Floors are also made of wood.  Décor isn’t spectacular, but there are beautiful green plants decorating the ceilings.  American pop music plays from the speakers.  Of course, the prime seats in the house are those looking out of the windows as you have the opportunity to people watch.

The menu, offered in both German and English versions, features an abundant number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as an extensive list of entrées, ranging from the typical sausages and schnitzels to various combinations of breads and cheeses.  Naturally, the home brewed beer is featured at the very beginning of the menu.  There are also menu choices for large groups, including an entire platter of around fifty sausages.  Interestingly, during certain months, Brauhaus Vetter features daily specials.  For instance, throughout the months of February, March, and April, Monday revolves around sausages, Tuesday is schnitzel day, Wednesday is Haxe (Pork knuckle) day, and Thursdays are all about liters of beer.

 

Today being a Wednesday makes it is a perfect time for a German delight – roasted pork knuckle (Schweinehaxe).  An entire pork knuckle, served with Treberbrot (spent grain bread), and a dollop of mustard on a single leaf of lettuce costs a mere 7,80 Euro.  Half a pork knuckle will set you back only 4,90 €.  A warning though: Schweinehaxe is definitely not for the faint of heart!  There are so many deposits of fat – unhealthy layers hiding under the crispy skin and attached to the meat – that people really need to be careful while eating it.

 

Aside from the fat, the meat is moist, tender, and full of flavor.  Eaten in combination with the bread and the mustard, the dish tastes wonderful.  Where was this mixture when mother made sandwiches for lunch?  The skin is probably the best part of the dish.  Mmm, pork skin!  Simply scrape off the extra amount of fat (or eat it if you so desire) from the pork cracklings and enjoy the heavenly crispiness that is pork skin.  Surely a guilty pleasure!  Just don’t tell your doctor you ate it, though!

 

Knödel, large round bread (or also traditionally potato) dumplings, are huge spheres of disappointment.  An American equivalent would probably be dressing eaten on Thanksgiving, except Knödel is shaped into balls and prepared without the various herbs.  The flavor of the Knödel at Brauhaus Vetter is simply lacking.  Although the side order to the Schweinehaxe is accompanied by a brown gravy sauce and topped with fried onions, the dumpling is missing that special kick.  As is, it merely tastes doughy.  As a side dish to the roasted pork hock, it is simply an afterthought.

Brauhaus Vetter isn’t the most innovative or unique restaurant in Heidelberg.  After all, it is first and foremost a brewery.  Don’t expect trendy, fashionable dishes in this touristy part of Heidelberg.  But the chefs here at Brauhaus Vetter dish up hearty, delicious German food that will surely keep you satisfied throughout the entire day.  And, of course, the home brewed beer is always an excellent accompaniment to wash it all down!

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Summary:

Conveniently located steps away from the Old Bridge in Heidelberg, Brauhaus Vetter is a German brewery and restaurant offering a wide selection of home brewed, unfiltered, natural beer and an extensive selection of German cuisine.  Moderate prices.  Special selected discounted days (see website).  Known for its ‘Vetter 33’ – the strongest beer in the world.  Beer kegs and bottles available for purchase.

Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 AMMidnight
            Friday and Saturday: 11 AM – 2 AM

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Ganze Schweinehaxe mit Treberbrot (Roasted Pork Hock with Grain Bread) – 4.5/5
  • Knödel – 3/5
  • Service – 5/5

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www.brauhaus-vetter.de/

Written by geschmack

February 24th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Palmbräu Gasse

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Hauptstraße 185 69117 Heidelberg

The Heidelberg Hauptstraße is lined with a slew of American and German fast food joints, a limited selection of ethnic eateries, bakeries, and a few coffee and candy shops every few blocks.  Of course, being in Germany, there are also quite a few German restaurants up and down the main street – Palmbräu Gasse being one of them.

 

The view of this place from the Hauptstraße is that of a family restaurant.  The exterior sort of resembles a home, awaiting your arrival.  Take a peek inside the windows and you will see wooden benches with comfy red cushions and candle lit tables exuding warmth and hospitality.  Enter the double doors and you will essentially find the restaurant divided into two.  The joyful, well-lit, family friendly dining area in the front of the restaurant is abruptly met with a darker area towards the back, where the bar is located.  Basically, patrons have the choice of enjoying a drink at their enticing bar or settle down for a meal in a relaxed, spacious atmosphere at the front the restaurant.

Palmbräu Gasse accommodates tourists visiting Heidelberg.  Menus at each table are well designed and written in both German and English.  The first page features Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, Spanish, and Italian flags, each with a message that informs guests of the opportunity to request a menu in the respective language.  Talk about great service!

Aside from a few items (such as the fondue from Sunday to Thursday!) the food at Palmbräu is pretty standard.  The menu includes your typical salads, soups, and breads, vegetarian courses, German specialties such as Swabish dishes, schnitzel, and Flammkuchen, steaks, and chicken dishes.  More fascinating and appealing are the daily specials featured on the sign boards outside, in front of the restaurant doors.  Everyday, Palmbräu offers a unique German dish at a very low price, thus often attracting repeat and curious customers to this restaurant time and time again.

 

Today, the daily dish was Holzfällersteak mit Rostzwiebeln und Bratkartoffeln – pork steak served with fried onion strips and sliced, fried potatoes – for only 7,90 €.  Holzfäller translates to ‘lumberjack’ in English, and oh! this meal is fit for one!  The pork steak comes from the shoulder of the pig and it’s cooked quite well.  The meat is tender and juicy, and is served in its own juices.  This cut of meat does have its disadvantages though, as the gelatinous and fattening parts, which glisten in the light, can be repulsive to some diners.  However, overall, the pork is quite tasty and flavorful.  It has a nice, browned crust on the top and bottom layers of the meat.  This contrast in textures carries on with the crisp, fried onion strips.  The onions are perfectly fried hot, the sweetness of the onions supplying a joyful burst of flavor with every bite.  Some of them are not battered well and thus simply melt in your mouth.  The potatoes are buttery and well salted.  Like the onions, they are not uniformly cooked and prepared.  Hence, some spuds are crisp and burnt (which is a good thing!), while others are delicate and soft.  Highlighting the dish are the little bits of bacon scattered around the potatoes.  These tasty morsels are quite unexpected, but complement the root vegetables extremely well.

Palmbräu Gasse is an excellent restaurant and bar in the middle of Heidelberg.  Whether you are there to enjoy a hearty meal or simply grab a beer with buddies, this place is a convenient spot for both!

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Summary:

Situated in the heart of Heidelberg’s Old Town, Palmbräu Gasse is a classic German restaurant and bar offering an exciting array of traditional, wholesome German dishes.  Daily specials at a reduced price.  Wide selection of cocktails, beers, and wines.  Prices moderate.  Generous Portions.  Very accommodating service.  Good Restaurant for Tourists.

Hours: Daily: 11:30 AM – 1:00 AM
              Fridays & Saturdays until 3:00 AM

 

Overall – 4 stars

  • Holzfällersteak mit Rostzwiebeln und Bratkartoffeln (Pork Shoulder Steak with Fried Onions and Fried Potatoes) – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.palmbraeu-gasse.de

Written by geschmack

January 14th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Le Café: Das Dürkheimer Kaffeehaus (Updated Review)

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Kurbrunnenstraße 9 67098 Bad Dürkheim

If you find yourself wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of a popular tourist city such as Heidelberg, you may want to consider taking a daytrip to the small, quaint city of Bad Dürkheim.  Here, you will find various shops and the occasional event to attend.  Of course, you can also enjoy some delightful German cuisine in this wonderful traditional town.

The ambiance at Le Café is absolutely magnificent.  On a beautiful day, you could sit outside and enjoy the weather behind the restaurant where there are quite a few tables available.  Otherwise, you can relax in the glowing warmth of the café.  The interior is ornamented beautifully with various paintings, decorations, and flowers.  Clean, smooth wooden tables await your company.  Some tables even have blue sofa seating, adding to the level of comfort inside.  The restaurant radiates a lovely, cozy feeling – it’s more like a home than a restaurant.  Waitresses are quick to help and service is prompt.

First meal here was the best dish I had so far in Germany.  The 8,90 EUR Bandnudeln mit Lachs-Dill-Creme fraiche (ribbon noodles in a Dill Crème Fraîche sauce with Salmon) is an absolute hit.  The ingredients are top-notch.  There are numerous chunks of delicious salmon scattered on top of thick Fettuccine type noodles, served in a rich, creamy white sauce.  The fish is delicately cooked.  The dill makes the dish come together superbly.  Chopped parsley garnishes the plate, completing the presentation.  Everything joins together in perfect harmony.

The second meal?  Well, it definitely didn’t live up to the first.  The Bandnudeln mit Shrimps in Pernodsauce (ribbon noodles tossed in a Pernod sauce, with tiny shrimp pieces) is difficult to manage.  Shrimp has a gritty and sandy texture because the digestive tract remains intact.  It is impractical to devein small shrimp, so the dish would be better served with larger pieces of shrimp.  The shrimp do not taste fresh, almost as if it came from a can.  The Pernod sauce is strikingly similar in flavor to the Crème Fraîche sauce served with the salmon.  At 9,60 EUR, you would be better served choosing the noodles with salmon.

Waiting in the display case is a wide selection of cakes and desserts, highlighted by the large cheesecake and chocolate cake.  Trying a slice of their cakes is surely recommended to end your meal.

Even if the weather is grey, a visit to Bad Dürkheim isn’t complete without a stop at Le Café.

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Summary:

Le Café: Das Dürkheimer Kaffeehaus is a beautiful, charming restaurant with a relatively small menu featuring various breakfast foods, excellent traditional German cuisine, and a vast assortment of mouth watering deserts. Outdoor seating available.  Restrooms quite clean.

Hours: Monday to Sunday 9:00 AM – 6 PM

Overall – 4.5 Stars

  • Ribbon Noodles served in a Dill Crème Fraîche Sauce with Salmon (Bandnudeln mit Lachs-Dill-Crème Fraîche) – 5/5
  • Ribbon Noodles served in a Pernod Sauce with tiny Shrimp (Bandnudeln mit Shrimps in Pernodsauce) – 3/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.lecafe-duew.de/

Written by geschmack

November 14th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Heidelberger Schnitzelhaus Alte Münz

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Heidelberger Schnitzelhaus Alte Münz 

Neckarmünzgasse 10 69117 Heidelberg

So you find yourself exhausted and hungry after climbing back down from the Heidelberg castle, walking across the old bridge, and taking pictures next to the monkey.  Sure, you can easily stop by one of the pricey restaurants along the Hauptstraße or stop by a kebab joint for a quick meal.  But maybe you feel like eating something traditional German.  Well, Schnitzelhaus might be the perfect antidote to satisfy that rumbling tummy!

Inside, the Schnitzelhaus might look like an old bar joint.  The place is dark and lit by candles at each table.  There are roughly 7 big wooden tables, with a mix of booth and chair seating. Reservations may be required for dinner.

At first glance, the menu can be quite overwhelming.  Not because it is written in German – they also have an English menu available.  The difficulty lies in actually choosing what to order!  I mean, the menu clearly states that they have “more than 100 different varieties of schnitzels!”  In fact, there are exactly 101 assorted kinds with traditional styles like Wiener, Jaeger, and Rahm Schnitzel to more exotic flavors such as Chilischnitzel, Thai style, Mole sauce, and Hawaiian style, just to name a few.  You can spend hours trying to decide which one to try!

 

Deciding to go the safe route (after all, it is Germany!), I decided on the Weltmeisterschnitzel (‘World Champion’ Schnitzel) cooked Jaeger style, with mashed potatoes instead of fries.  Be forewarned!  If you choose to go the Weltmeisterschnitzel route, be prepared for a lot of chewing!  The description for this dish states that it is only meant for those who are really hungry.  No kidding!

All meals come with a small plate of salad featuring lettuce, shredded carrots, corn, some sauerkraut, and a boatload of dressing.  The vegetables were typical fair, but the sauerkraut added an extra unique element to the salad.  Good, but not great.

The schnitzel and mashed potatoes arrived shortly afterwards.  Portions sizes were unbelievable.  The Weltmeister order gives you 4 hefty, well breaded and seasoned schnitzel pieces.  Jaeger style coats the schnitzel in a luscious cream sauce and a healthy amount of mushrooms adorning the pork.  Moreover, chopped parsley is strewn around the dish, completing the wonderful presentation.  The schnitzel was already dressed with lemon juice, so it was a bit sour for my tastes.  The initial bites were marvelous – moist and tender pork.  Absolute bliss.  Most of the pork was delicious, although I did run into cuts that were tough to chew.  Hard to believe, but the schnitzel was overshadowed by the mashed potatoes.  They were whipped and creamy – definitely worth substituting for fries.

 

At 14,90 euros, the Weltmeisterschnitzel is definitely a winner.  If you manage to finish the entire plate, you will surely feel like a champion!

 

I also tried a little bit of the Käsespätzle (8,90 euros) designed for vegetarians.  It also came with a side salad.  The spätzle was delicate and creamy.  Very rich with the amount of cheese introduced to the dish.  The grilled onions on top made the dish come together extremely well.  A nice alternative to the schnitzel dishes.

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Summary:

Schnitzelhaus Alte Münz is a moderately priced German restaurant near the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) serving over 100 different varieties of schnitzel.  They also sell beer mugs and t-shirts with their restaurant logo.

Hours: Monday to Friday: 5 PM – Midnight
             Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 11 AM – Midnight
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Overall – 5 stars

  • Weltmeisterschnitzel (Jaeger) – 4.5/5
  • Mashed Potatoes – 5/5
  • Käsespätzle – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

October 26th, 2009 at 11:55 pm