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Kilimanjaro

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Dreikönigsstraße 6 69117 Heidelberg

The roast beef comes in a stew, bold and rich, accompanied by sautéed onions, softened bell peppers, and broken down tomatoes.  The dish is served in a beautiful black clay pot, kept warm by a lone flickering candle in a small compartment underneath.  Next comes the injera, a spongy flatbread used to soak up the concentrated flavor of the spiced stew.  On top of the crepe like dough are tiny bits of lettuce, cucumbers, and a scoop of couscous.  It’s the Kulwa Berai and the combination of meat and flatbread creates quite a unique flavor profile in itself.

 

Entering the restaurant, you don’t exactly feel like you are in an African restaurant.  Sure, there are miniature drums on the walls, wooden elephants and giraffes piled up on one another, large wooden spoke wheels decorating the room, and traditional African tunes playing from the speakers.  But other than that, the place still seems German.  A bright side, though, is the fully equipped bar.

The menu at Kilimanjaro is not as massive as its namesake.  The names of the dishes are traditional Eritrean, so you will have to rely on the descriptions in German to understand the contents of the entrées.  This may be difficult if you don’t know the language; however the waiters are fully capable of speaking English and are more than happy to assist you in making your selection.

 

Appetizers are a mixed bag here, some of them are appetizing, some are plain ordinary.  Sambusa – filled dumplings with ground beef and seasoned with various spices – is a simple dish with amazing flavor and texture.  Essentially, these dumplings are like deep-fried triangular shaped wontons packed with a delightful amount of ground meat.  The Sambusa is delicate – fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The added spices give these bad boys a unique kick to them.  The only thing missing, however, is some dipping sauce to give it another dimension.

Kilimanjaros – a large mound of minced meat, diced potatoes, and onions, encased in bread crumbs – are a disappointment.  An appetizer carrying the name of the restaurant should be a specialty; however it’s merely lacking flavor.  This dish is reminiscent of corned beef hash, though the contents aren’t browned as one would normally like.  Each appetizer comes with a small portion of salad consisting of green lettuce, sliced cucumber, diced tomatoes, and finely chopped parsley.  The dressing does not overpower the vegetables resulting in a nice palate cleanser.

 

The main courses are, in general, better than their precursors.  The Kulwa Berai, priced at 8,90 €, is a flavorful stew similar to a curry.  The small chunks of beef, stewing in the vegetable mixture, absorb a lot of deep flavor.  The addition of the injera flatbread gives you the opportunity to add a different texture to the meal.  Alone, the injera has a plain doughy taste.  The only negative about this dish is the consistency of the meat – the pieces are chewy and the presence of small bones in the stew is irritating.  However, despite the fact that the beef could have been cooked longer, the dish is more than satisfying and tasty.

If you are looking for an exotic culinary adventure, but don’t have the time nor means to travel to a distant land, look no further than Kilimanjaro.  No, not Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  Kilimanjaro restaurant here in Heidelberg!  It is quite an experience.

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Summary:

Located near the banks of the Neckar River, Kilimanjaro is an African restaurant specializing in traditional Eritrean and East African cuisine.  Prices are reasonable.

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday open at 5:00 PM     
             Closed Mondays

Overall – 4 stars

  • Sambusa (Gefüllte Teigtaschen mit Hackfleisch oder Kartoffeln, 3 Stück) – 4.5/5
  • Kilimanjaros (Kartoffel-Zwiebel-Hackfleischrolle in Paniermehl umhüllt) – 3/5
  • Kulwa Berai (Gebratenes Rindfleisch mit Zwiebeln, Peperoni, Tomaten und Gewürzbutter) – 4/5
  • Service – 5/5

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Written by geschmack

December 2nd, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Schnitzelbank

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Bauamtsgasse 7 69117 Heidelberg

It’s Friday night and the Christmas events are in full swing in Germany.  Luckily, if you feel the need to escape the noise and stress of the holiday season, you can escape to a quiet, pleasant restaurant off the main street in Heidelberg.

 

Being inside the Schnitzelbank restaurant, you get an eerie feeling as if you are sitting in a secret underground hideout dating back to historic times.  Vintage photographs and drawings adorn the walls around.  The aged, wooden tables are so worn out from countless uses that you can only wonder which famous historic figures have set foot here.  People’s names, initials, and lover’s heart shapes from years past are deeply engraved into the benches (hence the name ‘Schnitzelbank’: Schnitzel meaning carve and bank meaning bench).  Even the method of transferring food from the kitchen to the dining area is old-fashioned – there is a dumbwaiter used to convey dishes from the bottom floor to the ground level.  It’s certainly a unique dining experience here.

The menu is elegantly presented in a large, brown folder.  There are numerous dishes to choose, including traditional favorites and regional fare.  A wide variety of wines are also available.

 

Order the 13,90 € Schnitzel “Art des Hauses” (House Special Schnitzel) and you get a fresh salad, home-made Spätzle, and two pieces of fine pork cutlets.  Instead of Spätzle, it is possible to request fried potatoes (Bratkartoffeln).

First, the accompanying salad – large whole leaves of red leaf lettuce, shredded carrots, chopped red cabbage, a slice of cucumber, and a tomato wedge – comes completely drenched in a salty vinaigrette.  Not what I was expecting.  Although all of the ingredients are fresh, the dressing utterly annihilates the natural flavor of the individual components.  One bite and I find myself reaching for my drink.

 

This aggressiveness continues on in the main dish.  The schnitzel is consumed by mounds of sliced button mushrooms and dark, aromatic cream sauce.  When the plate comes to the table, you are left searching for the meat.  Also unexpected is the lack of breadcrumbs on the schnitzel.  With the intense flavor of the cream sauce, however, it makes sense that the pork isn’t breaded.  The meat is cooked well and seasoned properly, although it can be a chore to cut through at times.  The mushrooms add a flavor and texture to the dish that complements the schnitzel rather well.  Overall, however, the dish lacks focus.  Piling on the mushrooms isn’t exactly a good thing.  You will be left wondering, “Am I eating mushrooms with schnitzel or schnitzel with mushrooms?”

One bright spot is the fried potatoes.  They are buttery and crisp, browned to perfection.  There are also hints of grilled onions mixed in with the spuds, providing an added sweetness.  These potatoes are absolutely delicious and worth the substitution!

As a wine bar that boasts having a lot of history, Schnitzelbank could do better.  As a restaurant, it still has lots of room for improvement.  For now, it would be best to leave the schnitzel in the bank and invest elsewhere.

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Summary:

Schnitzelbank is a historic German wine bar and restaurant serving up regional and national dishes in a cozy, old fashioned environment.  Generous portion sizes.

Hours: Monday – Friday 5:00 PM – 1 AM
            Saturday – Sunday 11:30 AM – 1 AM

Overall – 3 stars

  • Salad – 2/5
  • Schnitzel “Art des Hauses” – 3/5
  • Bratkartoffeln (Pan-Fried Potatoes ) – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5

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http://www.schnitzelbank-heidelberg.de

Written by geschmack

November 27th, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Mandy’s Railway Diner

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Mandys Diner  Mandys Railway Diner

Speyerer Straße 1 69115 Heidelberg

Ever since I arrived in Germany two months ago, I have been constantly craving good American food.  After asking around and receiving numerous recommendations from several people, I found myself standing in front of a lone, red dining car at the corner of a busy intersection in Heidelberg.  The moment I entered the restaurant, I was greeted by a large American flag – a sure sign that I was at the right place.

 

The ambiance and service here is outstanding.  The mood is laidback and casual inside the diner.  American memorabilia is posted all over the place – antique license plates, old black and white photos, Route 66 road signs, Harley Davidson placards, cola advertisements, and posters of celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Charlie Chaplin.  There is your typical American diner counter with bar stools, reminding you of old 50’s eateries.  Traditional pop American songs liven up the place.  Even the staff gets in on the fun.  The cook playfully sings along while Dean Martin’s ‘That’s Amore’ echoes throughout the restaurant.  My waitress came to my table with a friendly, warm smile and took my order without any problems.

 

Unfortunately, the food takes a backseat to the awesome surroundings.  The Diner’s Special, although a welcome sight to an American, is only mediocre.  It consists of 2 eggs, 2 bratwurst, about 6 small strips of bacon, 2 pancakes, 2 thick toast triangles, a cube of butter, a small bowl of strawberry jam, and a cup of coffee or tea.  The menu lists Spiegelei (fried eggs) as the normal style of eggs, but I requested them scrambled.

Eggs here are quite different than those in the United States.  They turn out a bit darker in color – not the bright yellow that is so characteristic of American eggs.  Regardless, the darker hue wasn’t enough to hide the fact that the scrambled eggs were overcooked.  When you see browned spots on the scrambled eggs, it’s a telltale sign they have been cooked way too long.   Some portions were tough and chewy while other pieces were more manageable.  Being an American diner, I was expecting sausage links or patties, but German bratwurst links would have to do.  Unfortunately, they were also overdone.  One side of the sausage was burnt while the other was completely white.  The bacon was surely the better of the two meats.  A few parts were scorched black, but the strips were mostly enjoyable.  For the toast, the bread was thicker than what I find at the German supermarkets.  They were lightly toasted on one side and the addition of softened butter and delectable strawberry jam was, of course, delicious.

The star of the dish, the pancakes, was a major disappointment.  Every time I ate a piece, a good part of it stuck to the roof of my mouth like peanut butter.  They were more gummy than fluffy.  In terms of taste, the pancakes were okay – good enough to eat without any syrup, but better with it.

 

Even more difficult to swallow is the price of the meal.  The Diner’s Special costs 9,20 EUR.  This was a bit of a shock for the amount of food given.  I guess you are paying for the dining experience too.

One positive was the homemade lemonade, served cold with ice cubes and adorned with a cute mint leaf.  It was absolutely refreshing and wasn’t too sweet.  For the price of 2,60 EUR for a 400 ml glass, it was definitely worth the price.

The burgers and sandwiches are probably done a lot better than the breakfast items.  Prices for these items are much lower, so they are worth trying.

To be fair, ordering breakfast at 4:00 PM in the evening might explain why the pancakes weren’t the best.  But there is no excuse for the meat being served burnt and the eggs overcooked.  Until the kitchen gets its act together, the breakfast items should only be served during morning hours.

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Summary:

Mandy’s Railway Diner is a traditional American diner featuring American breakfast entrées, sandwiches, and burgers.  Breakfast served all day.  Outdoor seating also available.

Hours: Monday to Sunday: 8 AM – 1 AM

Overall – 3 stars

  • Homemade Lemonade – 4.5/5
  • Diner’s Special – 3/5
  • Service – 5/5

 

http://www.mandys-hd.de/mandysdiner/

Written by geschmack

November 6th, 2009 at 7:37 pm