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Tom’s Original Hot Dogs

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Heugasse (corner of Hauptstraße 154) 69117 Heidelberg

Quintessential American food – apple pie, meatloaf, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, Philly cheese steak, and hamburgers and fries.  Oh, and don’t forget the hot dogs!  Despite being surrounded by hundreds of different types of German sausages and delicious breads, you would be hard pressed to find this classic American fare in Germany.  The closest thing to an American hot dog might possibly be Bratwurst or Würstchen mit Brötchen, but of course you don’t get all of the nifty condiments as you would on a hot dog.

Tom’s Original Hot Dogs will satiate your cravings for this ultimate all-American snack.  Forget the fancy decorations and elegant seating arrangements.  The focus in this fast food restaurant is solely placed on the hot dog.  There is a tiny service counter – essentially a hot dog cart – where the worker places the bun onto a wrapper and the wiener inside the bun.  As the hot dogs are pre-boiled and held warm in water until service, the process is simple and quick.

 

7 containers, full of condiments, line a brick wall.  Sweet green relish, original relish, sweet yellow corn relish, and red pepper relish make up the relish varieties.  Jalapeño rings, as well as red pepper rings, can be added onto your hot dog.  Toasted onions are highly recommended – they are crunchy and sweet.  Naturally, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise bottles are available on the table.  Seating is limited to two bar stools.  A wooden book shelf functions as a counter table.  There is also an oil drum that can be used as a table.

 

The hot dog itself tastes great.  Though it is a bit small, it has a good casing and the inside of the dog has a nice texture.  It is nothing like the abomination found in ‘American style’ hot dogs sold at the local German supermarkets.  The buns are also different than the standard plain hot dog bun.  Cornmeal is dusted on top of the buns here at Tom’s, adding even more taste and flavor.  The bun is warmed up and has a nice, delicate texture that complements the juicy hot dog extremely well.

If you think 1,99 € is expensive for a hot dog, consider this: 6 ‘American style’ hot dogs, sold in a jar in brine, cost around 2,79 € at a German supermarket.  A package of 4 plain hot dog buns can be bought for 0,99 €.  Tack on the cost of condiments and you will already be around 1 euro per dog.  Now, taking into account the fact that these poor imitations you find at the supermarkets don’t even come close to the hot dogs at Tom’s Original Hot Dogs, 1,99 isn’t so bad after all.

 

Besides hot dogs, there are also bags of chips available for purchase.  Habanero chili chips, manufactured by the local Chili Food Company in Bad Dürkheim, boast being produced without flavor enhancers or other artificial additives.  The chips are also labeled as ‘extrem scharf’ (‘extremely spicy’) with a ‘Schärfe Grad: 8‘ (a heat level of 8).  Personally, the chips aren’t terribly spicy – they merely leave a tingling sensation afterwards.  In fact, they start to grow on you after eating just a few.  They taste like kettle chips with its distinctive crisp texture.  Considering that there aren’t any added ingredients – only potatoes, sunflower oil, a blend of spices, and habanero chilis – these chips are well worth a try.

Moreover, the list of drinks is quite unique here.  Unless you have connections to the U.S. army, in which case you can obtain them at the local commissary, finding popular American soft drinks like A&W root beer, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper is as difficult as locating a good Mexican restaurant here in Germany – it’s almost close to impossible.  In addition to varieties of these beverages, you can also find Big Red soda and NOS energy drinks.  The cost of these drinks is fairly reasonable – a can costs about 2 €.

Of course, there is still room for improvement.  The selection of potato chips could use some work.  Maybe importing in some Lay’s potato chips will solve this problem.  Also, the choice of condiments is somewhat lacking.  If they added some fresh lettuce and tomatoes, pickles, chopped onions, bacon, or even chili and cheese sauce, it would be much appreciated and would attract an even larger crowd.  Heck, visiting this hot dog joint had me yearning for corn dogs.  Selling fries could be a good idea.  Fries with toasted onions and jalapeños would make an excellent combination.  The list of possibilities just goes on and on.

But as is, Tom’s Original Hot Dogs is quite possibly the only place in town where you can find hot dogs, living up to their slogan ‘The Hottest Dogs in Town.’  Tom’s Original Hot Dogs is a great place to pop in for a quick, inexpensive hot dog or two and a cool, refreshing American soda.  Just look for the American themed store off of the Hauptstraße!

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Summary:

Situated just off of the Heidelberg Hauptstraße, Tom’s Original Hot Dogs is a very small fast food restaurant focusing exclusively on one traditional American favorite – hot dogs.  A good selection of typical hot dog condiments is provided.  Hard to find American soft drink beverages, including A & W Root Beer, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper, imported from the United States, can also be found.  There are also habanero chips as well as insanely spicy hot sauces sold in bottles.  1 hot dog costs 1,99 €.

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Hot Dog – 4/5
  • Hot Dog Bun – 5/5
  • Selection of Condiments – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

July 8th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

MoschMosch

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Hauptstraße 136 69117 Heidelberg

The void created by the closure of Mr. Whang’s restaurant left the busy Heidelberg Hauptstraße without a good Japanese establishment for several months.  Only a few weeks ago, though, a new restaurant reopened the doors here for the first time in a while.  MoschMosch, a Japanese noodle bar franchise in Germany, has confidently stepped in and taken on the responsibility of providing locals and tourists an alternative choice to the often heavy meal options in the surrounding German restaurants.

 

MoschMosch maintains a modern, stylish look that makes it seem almost out of place in comparison to some of the rustic establishments nearby.  Upon entering the place, guests are immediately drawn to the calming neutral color scheme inside.  Seating arrangements are dominated by natural wood fixtures – wooden tables and square stools.  Contemporary light fixtures further add to the chic and trendy design.  A bar area towards the back of the restaurant will also attract your eye’s attention, as will the large colorful caricature of a Japanese geisha – MoschMosch’s mascot.  The dining atmosphere itself is nonchalant and casual.

A good number of staff workers are always on hand, even when the place isn’t teeming with patrons, which is certainly a positive since you are almost immediately served.  Disposable chopsticks are provided, but standard utensils are also available.  A high level of cleanliness is maintained at MoschMosch.

Tables are all set with paper-thin menu placemats awaiting visitors at each seat.  While waiting for service, guests can learn a little bit of the Japanese language from the tiny phrase book section on the sheet.  The food and drink listings aren’t overly large by any means.  Rather, it is smartly focused on particularly popular noodle bar items.

 

For appetizers, one can order Japanese potstickers (gyoza) with various fillings, yakitori sticks, edamame, miso soup, and summer and egg rolls, among other things.  For main dishes, there are a few salad items, a handful of different types of ramen noodle soups with varying accompaniments, rice bowl dishes (donburi), and fried noodle dishes such as yakisoba and yakiudon.  Also on the menu are meals ideal for the summer, rightfully labeled summer dishes.  Drinks include a short list of wines and beers (including Sapporo Japanese brand beer).  MoschMosch also features its own homemade ice tea and lemonade, which are both refreshing.  The iced tea, though, is tastier and the sweeter of the two.

 

Despite a few minor drawbacks, yakisoba – ramen style noodles stir fried in yakisoba sauce – is worth ordering.  A truly versatile dish, the fried noodles are accompanied by an interesting medley of fresh vegetables, including carrots, green onion, cabbage, sliced mushrooms, and bean sprouts.  Sesame seeds and strips of seaweed top off the dish.  A small lime wedge is also given.  Meat can be added for a small extra fee.  For instance, adding chicken to the dish will add an additional 1,75 € to the 6,75 € price tag for a standard yakisoba.

There is a generous amount of meat and vegetables in the dish, more than the noodles will allow for.  With the large assortment of vegetables featured, there is quite a colorful amount of textures and flavors going on.  Crunchy bean sprouts and carrots complement the spongy noodles and the moist, juicy pieces of chicken.  The sesame seeds add a great nutty flavor, the seaweed a wonderful, nutritious dimension.  In an order of chicken yakisoba, the chicken is really well seasoned and a tad bit spicy.  The tiny pieces of meat offer another brilliant burst of flavor.

Consistency, though, appears to be a problem.  On one visit, the noodles were not flavored well with the yakisoba sauce.  At times, the noodles would be concentrated and full of flavor; in other areas of the dish, tasteless.  But fortunately, you can find condiments at each table to add flavor to the dish.  There is soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, as well as seasoning powder with chili flakes (not really spicy).

 

The Katsudon is a great choice for diners just diving into Japanese cuisine.  Katsudon is essentially Japanese style schnitzel on rice.  The dish is served in a large bowl filled with white rice and topped with various grilled vegetables – cabbage, sliced carrots, red bell peppers, and mushrooms – and pork cutlet.  The pork is breaded wonderfully with panko breadcrumbs, deep-fried until crisp, and topped with a chili soy sauce.  Sprinkled on top are sesame seeds.  The pork is tender and very flavorful.  Rice is also cooked well.  Unfortunately, the given amount of pork is insufficient for the quantity of rice.  Fortunately, the grilled vegetables make up for it.

Five different desserts can be ordered, each priced at 4 euros.  The Ti-La-Mi-Su is nothing to write home about.  Instead of lady finger biscuits, layers of cake are sandwiched between layers of cream.  Cocoa powder is dusted on top and the cold dessert is served with refreshing mint leaves.  The cake has bits of nuts within, providing a nice texture.  But as far as flavor is concerned, the tiramisu is merely a yawn.

 

A better option might be the Bananen-Frühlingsrollen, which are essentially banana spring rolls.  Drizzled on top of the hot, crisp rolls is a generous serving of viscous honey.  The banana rolls are sweet and have a delicate outer layer that works perfectly with the fruit.  It tastes like corn flakes with bananas and warm honey.  The honey adds an extra amount of sweetness to the dish and brings it all together.  Although the rolls are slightly greasy, the dish is a delightful snack and a fine way to end your meal.

 

Though far from serving up truly authentic and traditional dishes, MoschMosch makes a fine attempt at introducing a portion of Japanese cuisine into the mainstream.  After all, most Europeans associate sushi with Japanese and not much else.  With its simple, yet modern, interior, fresh ingredients, and its enjoyable number of noodle and rice entrées, MoschMosch is a good indication of the growing appreciation for international cuisine here in Germany.

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Summary:

With a handful of locations all around Germany, MoschMosch is a successful franchise of Japanese noodle bar restaurants serving up a number of appetizing noodle and rice dishes at moderate prices.  Most main dishes under 10 euros.  Service with a smile.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
            Sundays and Holidays: 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM

 

Overall – 4 stars

  • Yakisoba mit Hühnchen – 4/5
  • Katsudon – 4.5/5
  • Ti-La-Mi-Su – 3/5
  • Bananen-Frühlingsrollen – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.moschmosch.com/

Written by geschmack

June 28th, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Avatar Foods

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Hauptstraße 171 69117 Heidelberg

Considering that Kebab Haus next door was superior in virtually all aspects, it was only a matter of time before Super Fast Food packed up and left the Hauptstraße.  A few months later, a new fast food establishment took up shop in its place – Avatar Foods.  A completely renovated dining area, a new touch of paint, and the addition of Indian cuisine to the menu all make this recent addition to Heidelberg’s main street worth a visit for a quick meal.

Outside, elements of its predecessor still linger.  The place still looks bare.  The same white and orange shades remain; the name Super Fast Food merely blotched out.  The only restaurant sign, very tiny and hard to discern, can be seen through the windows.  Upon entering the single door entrance, the ordering counter is still the first thing you see.  Further inside, the place has been given a nice beige coating – a definite improvement over the ghastly orange hue of its predecessor.  The dining area has also been smartly refurbished.  The contemporary, marbled tables are a step up from the ancient wooden slabs.  Seating is either crimson red booths along the walls or cushioned wooden chairs.  Pink blossoms and green flora liven up the place.  Candles at each table also add a nice touch.  The flat screen television still remains, along with the hip hop tunes blasting from the speakers.

In regards to the food, Avatar still curiously retains components of its predecessor.  You can still find döner and other typical German fast food items here (again, why come here when its next door neighbor does it better?).  However, the menu is chiefly dominated by Indian specialties – curries, gosht, and Tandoori items, amongst others.  Drinks include Indian lassis with mango, banana, and cocoa.  Instead of offering student discounts, as Super Fast Food was known for, Avatar offers a special ‘Happy Hour’ after 7 PM.  During this evening exclusive, you can have any Indian dish (outside of the tandoori specialties) for only 5,00 €!  As many of the dishes normally range from five to seven euros, this is definitely a good deal.

 

The chicken tikka masala on basmati rice is a must.  In this dish, roasted chunks of chicken breast marvelously absorb the rich, orange colored tomato sauce curry.  The chicken possesses a striking amount of flavor; the sauce thick and creamy.  The fragrant aroma and delicate nature of the basmati rice is also a perfect complement to the bold flavors of the tikka masala.  You certainly won’t be complaining about the lack of meat – there is probably enough chicken to share the dish among two people.  Although the presentation is nothing to be excited about, the dazzling orange and red on the chicken is enough to make any fan of masala happy.

It’s hard to say whether this restaurant took full advantage of the Avatar craze by using it namesake.  Regardless, the buzz generated by the name alone doesn’t seem to have accomplished much as the place is seemingly empty on a weekday evening during their ‘Happy Hour’ special.  It’s too bad because Avatar Foods serves up enjoyable Indian food at very affordable prices.  Although the selection isn’t as large as other Indian fast food places in the city, the food they do offer is executed well.

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Summary:

Located along Heidelberg’s Hauptstraße, Avatar is a good Indian fast food restaurant with a fairly limited number of items on the menu.   ‘Happy Hour’ past 7 PM – all Indian dishes are 5,00 €.  Outdoor seating available.  Quick and efficient service.

Overall – 4 stars

  • Chicken Tikka Masala – 4.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

May 12th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Saigon Sonne

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Hauptstraße 170 – 172 69117 Heidelberg

One of the things I miss most about living in Southern California is the overabundance of Phở restaurants.  Around every corner, in practically every big city in the area, there is some sort of Vietnamese joint featuring this delectable rice noodle dish on the menu.  Not only is this noodle soup inexpensive, but also a good soul soother on a cold, rainy spring day.  Walking down the Hauptstraße here in Heidelberg, I was elated to find a Vietnamese restaurant a few steps away from the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) at market square.  Named Saigon Sonne (Saigon Sun), this Vietnamese restaurant has a few bright spots on this busy, touristy street.

 

Taking a step inside the single wooden door entrance, you won’t exactly feel as if you’re in an Asian restaurant.  That’s because the spacious dining room area is plainly decorated with various odds and ends – oil paintings, plants, and sculptures.  Aside from a few colorfully decorated conical straw hats hanging on the simple white walls, along with bamboo plants on each table, the dining atmosphere seems a little flat.  The tables are, however, covered by an eye-catching red and orange tablecloth that adds some style to the place.  Seating, for the most part, consists of dark wooden chairs.  The restaurant is a step up from basic fast food eateries, but also not the most impressive place to dine.

On the other hand, the menu at Saigon Sonne is anything but plain and ordinary.  There is a fairly large listing of Vietnamese and Southeast Asian dishes on the menu, ranging from braised, grilled, or fried meats such chicken, beef, duck, and fish, as well as vegetable stir fry entrées with rice.  There are also various fried rice and fried noodle dishes typical of Asian restaurants in Germany.  The list of appetizers includes traditional Vietnamese wraps and rolls such as spring and summer rolls.  Desserts include a couple of authentic sweets, but also standard Asian treats like fried bananas.

 

For starters, the Nem Tom is an excellent choice.  This Vietnamese spring roll is filled with a prawn stuffing, together with diced onions, chopped mushrooms, bean sprouts, julienne carrots, and rice vermicelli.  Accompanying the rolls is a brilliantly light fish sauce dip.  The rolls are served on a bed of green lettuce and herbs, including Thai basil and mint leaves.  Alone, the spring rolls are hot and crunchy and have a great flavor.  However, the cool lettuce and exotic herbs, along with the tasty dipping sauce, make the rolls a lot more interesting.  The Nem Tom can be ordered either as an appetizer or as a main dish.  The appetizer will set you back 5,00 €.

Unfortunately, there are only two types of phở offered on the menu – either with cooked chicken or beef.  You won’t find rare meat or beef brisket here, only beef flank or chicken breast.  Each one can be ordered as a starter (Vorspeise) or as a main course (Hauptgericht).  Both opinions, however, are fairly expensive – a beef phở appetizer costs 4,90 €, while the large bowl 9,90 €.  Considering that phở isn’t as popular or trendy here in Germany as it is elsewhere, these prices may seem reasonable to the local resident.  However, for the price you pay, the phở is fairly disappointing.

 

Firstly, the beef phở broth is slightly cloudy and isn’t as rich as good phở broth should be.  It should be meaty and flavorful, but it seems watered down a bit.  Simply put, it fails to meet expectations.  The typical garnishes for phở – cilantro, basil, lime, bean sprouts and onions – are already added into the soup.  This is frustrating because the phở soup can be a bit too acidic for some.  On the plus side, the noodles are well cooked and there is a decent amount of beef floating around the soup.  At the bottom of the bowl, you can find traces of some of the signature seasonings used in making phở, which aren’t too powerful.  Condiments such as Sriracha hot sauce and Hoisin sauce are available upon request.

Being the only Vietnamese restaurant in Heidelberg, Saigon Sonne does a decent job of serving up traditional cuisine to serve all the tourists visiting the city.  The service is great and quick to help.  However, for true culinary enthusiasts, the food may be a bit substandard.   Some of the dishes (such as the Nem Tom) are well executed and have me curious about the others, while there are some entrées that have me left scratching my head.  Tack on the high end prices and it’s even more difficult to swallow.  It’s a mixed bag, you just don’t know what the end result will be.

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Summary:

Located along Heidelberg’s Hauptstraße, Saigon Sonne is a Vietnamese restaurant serving up traditional and original Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cuisine.  A quiet getaway from the boisterous and congested main street.  Prices moderate.  Lunch menu featured daily.

Overall – 4 stars

  • Nem Tom (Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Prawns) – 4.5/5
  • Phở Bo Ha Noi (Beef & Rice Noodle Soup) – 3.5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

April 3rd, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Heidelberg

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Ristorante Cavallino Bianco Weißes Rössel

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Hauptstraße 210 69117 Heidelberg

Don’t judge a book by its cover.  This very common idiom certainly applies to restaurants too.  A simple glance at Ristorante Cavallino Bianco and you may think this place sells Christmas decorations or holiday ornaments.  The green, white, and red exterior gives off quite a festive feeling not commonly associated with fine dining.  But take a closer look at the glass display case and you will find a menu – an Italian menu.  It immediately becomes apparent that the color scheme is exclaiming Italian national colors as opposed to Santa Claus!

 

Take a step inside and you immediately feel welcomed.  Soothing Italian music transports you to Venice, sitting in a gondola, taking in the beautiful scenery.  The dining room walls are a sharp contrast to the childish exterior – they are a mature, warm, and friendly peach hue.  Tables are draped in clean, white tablecloths, surrounded by cushioned wooden chairs.  Each table is further decorated with a beautiful flower in a vase and a candle.  Wine bottles and olive oil containers line the walls all around.  Overall, the dining room is sophisticated, orderly, and elegant.  Completing this superb dining setting are the professionally dressed and attentive servers.

The menu at Ristorante Cavallino Bianco is typical Italian.  You will find various pastas, as well as grilled meat specialties.  There is also an extensive selection of seafood dishes.  As it’s currently nearing the springtime, fresh mussels and seafood are featured items.  Compared to past experiences at Italian restaurants in Germany, Ristorante Cavallino Bianco does not provide guests with the complete Italian dining experience.  No complimentary bread or salad accompanies the meal, which can be disappointing.  Instead, you simply get what you order.

 

The Risotto frutti di Mare, priced at 10,50 €, is a delicious seafood risotto.  The rice is cooked well – the grains are creamy and slightly chewy.  This creamy texture goes great with the varied textural combination of the seafood.  You will find countless chunks of clam meat, squid, a baby octopus, four mussels, and tiny shrimp scattered throughout the risotto.

Whether it’s the luxurious, smooth texture of the octopus tentacles, the firmness of the shrimp, or the slightly chewy consistency of the squid, the seafood greatly complements the soft and creamy nature of the risotto rice.  The flavors of the sea get absorbed into the rice quite well, creating a rich overall flavor.  Also hidden among the grains of rice are slices of softened garlic, providing bursts of tang to the dish.  Unfortunately, you will also find some of the seafood slightly gritty – certainly unappealing.

 

Desserts are also your standard Italian delights – tiramisu, Italian ice cream, and panna cotta.  Many of the desserts seem overpriced, such as the panna cotta at 5,50 €.  But how could you not be tempted by Italian desserts?   The panna cotta is a delectable treat.  It has a rich and smooth texture.  Served simple and direct with a wild berry sauce, the combination of the cream, milk, and sugar is perfect.  For me, the seeds in the berry sauce were off-putting.  But aside from that, the panna cotta is a delightfully refreshing way to end any meal.

Of course, Ristorante Cavallino Bianco offers a selected number of wines to go along your meal.  Unsure of wine pairings?  Just ask the waiting staff for some advice.  As an alternative, there are hot drinks, in addition to cold beverages.  What’s a classic Italian dining experience without cappuccino?

It’s such a shame that, on a gorgeous Friday afternoon in Heidelberg, there was no one else present at the restaurant.  Maybe it’s the location near the end of the Hauptstraße that makes it unattractive to diners.  Nonetheless, Ristorante Cavallino is a decent choice for Italian food in the Heidelberg Altstadt.   The service is excellent and attentive; the food flavorful.

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Summary:

One of the few Italian restaurants along Heidelberg’s Hauptstraße, Ristorante Cavallino Bianco is a great Italian eatery serving up a respectable amount of true Italian dishes.  Cozy dining environment, good attentive service.  Prices are moderate.

Overall – 4 stars

  • Risotto frutti di Mare (Seafood Risotto) – 4/5
  • Panna Cotta – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

March 19th, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Sudpfanne

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Hauptstraße 223 69117 Heidelberg

I’ve always been fascinated by these combination hostel and restaurant spots in Germany.  Do they serve warm, tasty, and delectable meals that a German mother would serve to her family?  Or does the food cater to foreign tourists and guests staying in the rooms neighboring the eatery?  At the far end of the Hauptstraße, away from the hustle and bustle of the city,  sits a cozy, pleasant restaurant, bar, and hostel called Sudpfanne.

 

Venturing into the restaurant, you will immediately be met with the bar room area, where there are several bar stools awaiting guests looking for a quick refreshment.  In the next room over is the inviting guest dining room.  Adorning the aged walls are exquisite, framed oil paintings, as well as various sculpted decorations.  The seating here primarily consists of padded seats along the walls, in addition to small wooden chairs.  The tables are also made of wood.  Each dining arrangement is decorated with a lone flower in a vase (though somewhat sad looking) along with a lighted candle.  Overall, the dining environment is comfortable and exudes a rustic, home feeling – perfect for a hostel operation.

The menu at Sudpfanne is unfortunately strictly limited.  In comparison to other German restaurants, the selections are few.  You will recognize common German dishes – schnitzel, rumpsteak, and spätzle – plus some regional offerings such as Maultaschen.  Sudpfanne offers a daily menu in addition to the normal items.  Drinks are typical.

 

Interesting about this place are the slight twists and variations added to traditional favorites.  One of the featured items here is the Schweineschnitzel Sudpfanne mit Kartoffelbrei und einer Knoblauchsoße (Pork cutlet, Sudpfanne style, with mashed potatoes and garlic sauce).  The dish comes with three pork cutlets, breaded and fried, served with a heaping amount of potatoes and a generous portion of garlic gravy sauce.  At 9,80 €, it is moderately priced.  And the dish is only partly well executed.  The schnitzel cutlets are well breaded, though not well seasoned.  The pork could definitely use some more salt.  Adding a squeeze of lemon does help improve the flavor, as does dipping the meat in the garlic sauce, but alone it leaves a lot to be desired.  Outperforming the main star of the dish are the mashed potatoes and garlic sauce.  The supporting actor wins the award while the lead fails to even get a nomination.  Together, the combination is delightful – the way garlic mashed potatoes should taste.  The spuds are mashed quite well, not to the point of being a purée, but smooth nonetheless.  The garlic sauce also speaks wonders.  Packed with flavor, it’s simply enjoyable.

 

Sudpfanne is conveniently located in the heart of Heidelberg.  The famous Heidelberg castle, as well as the infamous old bridge, is only a short distance away.  A bus stop nearby provides guests with further opportunities for exploration in this magnificent, charming city.  Although Sudpfanne offers an extremely limited number of entrées on their menu, the dishes are cooked decently.  The food portion to price ratio is slightly unfavorable, though.  Overall, Sudpfanne is a good place to enjoy a beer or a warm German meal to end your day.  After all, it’s located near the end of the main Hauptstraße.

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Summary:

Sudpfanne is a restaurant, bar, and hostel situated in a prime location in the center of Heidelberg’s Altstadt.  Extremely limited selection of menu items.  Traditional German dishes including schnitzel, spätzle, and Maultaschen.  Wine tasting events (see website).  Quaint, lovely atmosphere.  Good service.

Overall – 4 stars

  • Schnitzel Sudpfanne – 3.5/5
  • Kartoffelbrei und einer Knoblauchsoße (Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Sauce) – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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

Written by geschmack

March 9th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Café Extrablatt

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Hauptstraße 162 69117 Heidelberg

If you’re yearning for some burgers, salads, or pasta while roaming the streets of Heidelberg, but don’t feel like popping into a McDonald’s or Burger King, a good place to visit is one of the two Café Extrablatt locations found along the Hauptstraße in the main city center.  Café Extrablatt is sort of like a cross between a Red Robin and a Pizza Hut – a chain of casual restaurants that feature typical American style foods.  In fact, in addition to the two in Heidelberg, there are more than 50 Café Extrablatt locations in Germany!

  

The Café Extrablatt restaurant near the large church features an impressive open layout.  Here, the architecture and light fixtures are absolutely magnificent – completely unexpected.   The café/restaurant is divided into separate areas, characterized by different style seating arrangements – in one corner, the accommodations are composed of high bar stools with matching tables, in another there are wicker chairs with wooden tables, along the side walls is a cushioned booth seating layout, and in the back of the restaurant are elegant, cushioned sofa style chairs, sort of like the ones found in a café.  Of course, there is also an extensive bar with bar stools overlooking the entire restaurant.  The prime seats are the ones looking out the windows at the front – perfect for people watching.

 

Food at Café Extrablatt is pretty ordinary American cuisine.  In addition to burgers and pizza, the menu also features your usual starters, such as mozzarella sticks, chicken strips, and French Fries.  Order the Cajuns, priced at € 2,95, and you will get a good amount of piping hot, thick cut steak fries, seasoned with cayenne pepper and served with your choice of two dipping sauces.  Dips include aioli, BBQ sauce, curry dipping sauce, ketchup, mango dip, mayonnaise, and sweet chili sauce.  Surprisingly, the aioli goes extremely well with the spuds.  The garlic and olive oil match the texture of the potatoes quite well.

 

The € 7,95 Lasagne al Forno falls flat.  Sadly, the dish isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with meat and Bolognese sauce.  In fact, there is very little ground meat sandwiched between the six layers of pasta.  Furthermore, there is barely any cheese to be found amongst the various pasta sheets.  Where’s the ricotta?  Although there is plenty of mozzarella cheese baked on the uppermost layer, the dish would be better served with alternating layers of cheese and pasta a la traditional style lasagna.  In terms of flavor, the dish tastes like your typical lasagna – nothing special.

Overall, Café Extrablatt has an incredible dining atmosphere, but only mediocre food.  Come to relax and unwind, grab a beer at the bar, or order some cake and coffee.

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Summary:

Situated on the Heidelberg Hauptstraße in the city center, Café Extrablatt is a good, casual dining restaurant/café featuring a large assortment of typical American cuisine – burgers, salads, pizza, pastas, and soups.  A good selection of hot and cold drinks.  Moderately priced.  Breakfast also available.

Overall – 3.5 stars

  • Cajuns – 4.5/5
  • Lasagna al Forno – 3/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.cafe-extrablatt.com/

Written by geschmack

February 4th, 2010 at 8:43 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

Zum Roten Ochsen

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Zum Roten Ochsen  Zum Roten Ochsen Heidelberg

Hauptstraße 217 69117 Heidelberg

When a restaurant has been up and running for as long as Zum Roten Ochsen, it’s unreasonable to expect the same quality of cooking and flair to persist over the years.  Tastes change, ingredients transform, and modern dishes are invented.  New owners surface and the menu receives an overhaul.  But here, things are different.  Built in 1703, Zum Roten Ochsen has been owned by the Spengel family for over 6 generations for more than 170 years.  The rich tradition of this historic establishment has continued to the present day.

 

Sitting in this historic pub, surrounded by ancient relics of the past, one can only wonder which famous historic figures have set foot here.  Pictures of prominent people as well as distinguished students of the University of Heidelberg line the walls.  In fact, it can give you goose bumps just being here.

The ambiance is a bit dark, but also romantic.  The aged wooden walls give a clear indication of the history here.  Antlers are also proudly displayed from successful hunts of days past.  Additionally, other random objects dangle from the ceiling.  Of course, the head of a red ox (Roten Ochsen means red ox) oversees the dining room.  Here, the menu, written in both German and English, is focused.  There isn’t a huge selection of entrées, rather a restricted number of dishes done well.  Typical dishes from the Swabian region makes this restaurant unique compared to the others along the Hauptstraße.

 

The lentil stew with spätzle and sausages, priced at 9,50 euros, is listed as the national dish of the Swabian region.  In this dish, the lentils are perfectly cooked in a beef broth along with diced onions and chopped carrots.  The stew is rich, thick, and hearty.  Small chunks of beef can be found amongst the lentils – rewarding bits of meat that remind you of the long cooking process involved.  The sausages are typical wieners (frankfurters) – they aren’t overly salty and the casing has a pleasant snap.  They add substance to the stew.  Pieces of spätzle can also be found in the stew.  Overall, the flavor combination works extremely well.  Although the portion size appears to be on the small side, the dish is absolutely satisfying.  This bowl is even more gratifying on a cold, snowy night – the contents are steaming hot and ultimately soothes the soul.

 

Zum Roten Ochsen is an excellent place for a quick beer or a complete quality meal.  Whether it’s a romantic get-together, a group dinner with friends, or a meeting with old buddies, visiting Heidelberg isn’t complete without a stop at Zum Roten Ochsen.

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Summary:

Located along the main street in Heidelberg’s Altstadt, Zum Roten Ochsen is a historic pub serving traditional German cuisine as well as regional Swabian (Schwäbisch) dishes in an old-fashioned setting.  Reservations recommended.

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Lentil Stew with Spätzle and Sausages (Schwäbisches Linsengemüse mit Spätzle und zwei Würstchen) – 4.5/5
  • Service – 4/5

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http://www.roterochsen.de/

Written by geschmack

December 18th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Bierbrezel

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Hauptstraße 184 69117 Heidelberg

Flames shoot up constantly from an oven that is used for the Flammkuchen.  These are large, thin-crusted, and delicious.  If you have never had Flammkuchen (also called Tarte flambée), it is sort of like a very thin pizza.  The menu features a large variety of this regional specialty, along with other conventional dishes found in a German establishment.

 

The atmosphere at Bierbrezel is rustic and old-fashioned.  Seating chiefly consists of dark oak wooden tables, benches, and chairs.  Surprisingly, the plates used for the Flammkuchen are also wooden.  Each table is lit by a small illuminated candle, with a dim chandelier hanging up top.  The inferno coming from the oven is the only brightly lit spot.  Although I am not particularly fond of such dark places, this restaurant is a good place for romantic get-togethers.  The amount of seating is also suitable for large parties.

 

The 7,50 € Bier Brezel Flammkuchen is topped with Crème fraîche, chunks of turkey breast, onions, and cheese.  Sprinkled on top is a dash of oregano.  Served straight from the oven on a cutting board, this dish works really well.  The combination of the sour Crème fraîche, the slightly salty turkey meat and cheese, and the sweet onions complement each other nicely.  Add the aromatics of the oregano and you will savor this culinary experience.  The texture is also distinctive – the crispy crust combined with the soft, gooey cheese is brilliant.  The only negative, of course, is the onion aftertaste you get after eating such a dish.

The espresso here is simply ordinary.  A cup comes with a tiny packet of sugar and a cookie.  Simply put, the sugar is not enough.  It would have also been nice to have brown sugar instead.  The wrapped cookie is, however, a delightful treat after an overall great meal.

Bierbrezel boasts specializing in beer since 1752.  Having been here that long, it’s no wonder that the chefs here know how to make their dishes the right way.

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Summary:

Situated in front of the large church on the Hauptstraße, Bier Brezel is a German restaurant offering a wide variety of traditional cuisine, such as schnitzel, flammkuchen, and pretzels, as well as a large selection of alcoholic drinks.

Overall – 4 stars

  • Bier Brezel Flammkuchen (mit Crème fraîche, Putenbrustwürfeln, Zwiebeln und Käse)– 4.5/5
  • Espresso – 2/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://bierbrezel-heidelberg.de/

Written by geschmack

December 10th, 2009 at 9:05 pm