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Goldener Stern

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Lauerstraße 16 69117 Heidelberg

Wandering down the streets off of the Heidelberg Hauptstraße, you will surely come across many hidden restaurants and shops, each offering something unique.  After all, many tourists do not dare venture down these paths and risk being lost.  On a street parallel to the main street, one such restaurant, Goldener Stern, merely begs the question – does it truly live up to its name ‘Golden Star’?

 

At first glance, Goldener Stern does not merit any star whatsoever.  The place lacks any appeal and simply looks outdated.  From the old wooden tables and booth seats, to the lackluster yellow paint on the walls, the interior could use a fresh makeover.  Light supplied from ceiling fixtures is also an eyesore.  The interior isn’t entirely bad, though; blue drapes add a contemporary splash, while green plants on the window sills liven up the place.  Roses sit in glass containers at each table and await guests for a romantic evening.  Candles placed at the tables also add a nice effect.  White tablecloths are arranged over a pink colored cloth in an attempt to hide the aged bench.  The only indication of Greek culture here, aside from the food, is the enjoyable music playing throughout the restaurant.

 

Fortunately, the food is miles better.  The menu is fairly large and offers a considerable selection of traditional Greek dishes.  Appetizers feature many Greek classics, from dolmades and tarama to feta cheese and horiatiki (Greek salad).  The main menu is stocked with meat dishes, including Cevapici and Souvlaki.  There are pork, lamb, and beef steaks, as well as fish delights straight from the grill.  Gyros made from chicken are highlighted in many dishes.  Numerous combination plates provide you with a small sample of different types of meats.  Many of the entrées include thick cut steakhouse fries and a side salad.  Portions are substantial and will easily satiate your appetite.  A respectable number of Greek wines are listed in the drinks menu.  There are also a few Greek spirits.  Traditional Greek mocha is also featured in the list of hot beverages.  Beers are standard German.

 

One of the featured specialties is the Gyros au Gratin.  At 10,80 €, it’s one of the higher priced items on the menu.  In this dish, sliced pieces of chicken gyro are mixed with strips of onions and drenched in an orange Metaxa cream sauce, topped with a layer of white cheese and baked until bubbly.

The result is a wonderfully aromatic dish that sizzles upon service to your table.  The thick layer of cheese on top beautifully insulates the meat and keeps it warm throughout the meal.  The gyro, after baking under the cheese, becomes even more moist and delicate.  Absorbing the flavors of the Metaxa cream sauce, the gyro tastes far from regular chicken meat.  Instead, it has a unique, intense flavor.  The cheese is wonderfully gooey.

The accompanying side salad is refreshingly different from typical salads at other restaurants.  Aside from the usual greens, shredded carrots, white cabbage, and slice of tomato, there are also white beans and a banana pepper.  The salad is coated with a confident dressing in just the right amount.

Also complementing the Gyros au Gratin is a generous amount of steakhouse fries.  Although the potatoes are a much needed accompaniment to the meat and a wonderful medium to soak up the cream sauce, the fries need work.  They aren’t piping hot upon service.  Moreover, they aren’t uniformly cooked – some pieces are browned darker than others while a few are quite soggy.

 

Goldener Stern’s large portions make it difficult to even think about ordering dessert.  But if you can still manage, the menu features 3 indulgences – 2 traditional Greek treats (Galaktoboureko and Halva) and a standard ice cream delight.  Galaktoboureko is a traditional Greek dessert consisting of semolina custard that’s baked inside filo dough.  The custard is firm and creamy, but only slightly sweet.  Served soaking in a light, clear syrup and accompanied by two scoops of vanilla ice cream, the dish altogether has a delicate sweetness.  The warm pastry works marvelously with the chilled ice cream and, after a while, absorbs the melted cream (yes, it becomes even creamier!) and syrup extremely well.

Service at Goldener Stern is top-notch.  The wait staff is extremely cordial and welcoming.  Food is served in a reasonable amount of time and plates are taken away promptly.  Questions concerning the various dishes will be happily answered.  The server even suggested an ouzo (popular Greek aperitif).

Goldener Stern rightly lives up to its name; it certainly earns its golden star.  But does it reach the platinum or diamond levels?  Not quite.  The ambiance could use a new look and the food is great overall, but not overly impressive.  Goldener Stern is a solid Greek restaurant; with some improvements it could become so much more.  As is, Goldener Stern is a suitable place to enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean, considering Heidelberg’s limited options when it comes to Greek food.

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Summary:

Situated in the heart of the Heidelberg Altstadt, Goldener Stern is an old-fashioned restaurant that specializes in Greek cuisine.  Fairly extensive selection of classic Greek dishes.  Attentive and admirable service.  Prices reasonable.  Reservations suggested.  Outdoor seating available.

Hours: Daily 5:00 PMMidnight

 

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Gyros au Gratin – 4/5
  • Galaktoboureko – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.stern-hd.de/

Written by geschmack

June 1st, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Heidelberg

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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

Tagged with , , ,

Rhodos-Grill

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Rhodos-Grill

Hasselsstraße 99 40599 Düsseldorf

When you combine elements of a local family owned business with a fast food restaurant, you almost certainly have a friendly staff willing to go the extra mile to satisfy each and every need.  The prices are generally favorable and the food is by and large fresh and top-quality.  Sometimes, being a frequent customer has its rewards as they may even receive extra portions as a nice gesture.  This concept is not confined to eateries in the United States, but also found overseas – as is the case at Rhodos-Grill.

 

Enter this fast food locale and you will immediately become aware of the large service counter.  There is a huge glass display case containing stored cold items that are ready to be cooked.  Nearly half of the items on the menu are visible through this display – fries, schnitzel, rice, sauces and dips, and various types of salads.  Don’t plan on coming here with large groups as there are only 5 tables here with enough seating for 4 at each spot.

The food here is a mixed bag.  Gyros are extremely good.  Portion sizes are huge and worth the 5,10 euro price tag.  The meat is well seasoned and full of flavor.  There is a good amount of fat attached to the meat, which can provide a tasty addition depending on how you look at it (of course, this can be upsetting for many people).  An order also comes with banana peppers that complement the gyros well.  The only downside is the addition of raw onions, instead of grilled.  As a result, you will be left with onion breath long after finishing the meal.

The rice dish, flavored with tomatoes, chunks of softened carrots, and huge chunks of chicken meat, is an absolute mess.  On this visit, the starch was completely mushy and the entire dish wasn’t heated up enough to qualify as a warm dish.  Moreover, the dish suffered from quite a good amount of plain chicken fat in the dish that made it even more repulsive.  I’m fairly certain that rice isn’t supposed to be watery and gooey like that.  There were large chunks of chicken breast and small cuts of dark chicken meat that made it a meal in itself.  Nevertheless, despite costing only 3 € for a large portion, it was a total disaster.

 

The 2,10 € order of currywurst is lackluster, not too spectacular.  The curry sauce itself is a little bit sweet for the sausages.  Maybe there wasn’t a lot of curry added or they expected the sausage’s saltiness to counteract it.  Nonetheless, the flavor is pretty predictable.

 

Another popular fast food dish in Germany, aside from currywurst, is Frikadelle – minced meat combined with various spices and ingredients, formed into balls or shaped into patties, and then pan-fried.  Think hamburger, but a lot tastier and thicker.  Order them hot and you get a nice crust on the top and bottom – a nice contrast to the meat inside.  Simply put, the frikadellen here are a pleasure to eat.  And at 1,60 € per, it is certainly a good deal.

One of the better items to order at Rhodos-Grill is the rotisserie chicken.  Whole chickens can be seen from outside the window spinning on the rotisserie.  The chicken is absolutely amazing – each piece of meat is moist and juicy.  Cut right into the bird and you not only see the clear juices running off the bone, but also the steam rising up from the piping hot chicken.  The skin is full of flavor and isn’t overly salty.  At 6 euros for an entire chicken, it may be a tad pricy.  But finding good roasted chicken is hard to come by in these parts of town, so it is definitely worth it.

 

On an earlier visit, the fries were cooked fresh and served hot and crispy.  The second stop, though, was a completely different result.  The potatoes were soggy and lacking that crunchy texture.  The third visit was in between.  With so many entrées being served with fries, it’s extremely important to maintain a good French fry consistency.

Rhodos-Grill is a favorite of the locals – and with good reason.  Filling, tasty, and moderately priced – what more can you ask for from a local joint?  If you happen to be in the Hassels area of Düsseldorf, this fast food Greek establishment is worth paying a visit.

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Summary:

A local fast food restaurant in an urban part of Düsseldorf, Rhodos-Grill serves up an assortment of typical quick service foods including pizza, baguettes, sausages, roasted chicken, burgers, gyros, and French Fries.  Friendly atmosphere.  Extremely inexpensive.  Delivery service available.

(Note: Food was ordered to-go and served at home – hence, the plates are not from the restaurant)

Overall – 4 stars

  • Gyros mit Zwiebeln (with Onions) – 4/5
  • Rice with Chicken – 2/5
  • Currywurst – 3.5/5
  • Frikadelle – 4.5/5
  • Rotisserie Chicken – 5/5
  • French Fries – 4/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

January 2nd, 2010 at 11:54 pm