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Alter Kohlhof

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Kohlhof 5 69117 Heidelberg

You’d think that with all of the trees and natural vegetation located up the hills in Heidelberg, there wouldn’t be a hidden hotel or restaurant in the middle of the woods.  After all, how could such an establishment be successful in such a sparsely populated area?  Well, with a magnificent scenic view of the neighboring region only a few minutes away, Alter Kohlhof happens to be one countryside inn, winery, and restaurant flourishing in a landscape of trees.

Alter Kohlhof is approximately 20 minutes from Heidelberg’s Altstadt, located in the Odenwald Mountains.  A narrow, elevated, winding road takes you up the mountain slopes; the surroundings full of trees and countryside.  The trip up there can become frantic as you must maneuver your way through many sharp turns and share the road with buses and other vehicles.  At times, the path becomes extremely tight and head-on-collisions are always a possibility.

If you manage to survive the adventurous ride up the summit, you may also have a difficult time locating the place.  Signs directing you to Alter Kohlhof are few and far in between.  Moreover, some of them are obscured by vegetation or too small to recognize from a distance.  However, once you ultimately reach Alter Kohlhof, you can breathe a sigh of relief.  After all, Alter Kohlhof is not only an enchanting German restaurant; it’s also a comfortable countryside inn.

The exterior is well maintained and modern.  Tables and chairs are set up in front of the restaurant doors, making up the beer garden dining area.  There are also large wine barrels opposite the beer garden.  Step inside the polished wooden double doors, you immediately feel welcomed.  A family owned and operated establishment, the place simply exudes an aura of friendliness.  One of the first things you notice is an open guestbook for visitors to write in comments.  Excellent!  You will also be impressed by the wide open layout of the restaurant – the dining room is almost as large as a banquet hall.  Upon entering the restaurant area, the bar and counter will almost surely catch your attention because behind the glass display are a couple of mouth-watering desserts.  Seating here at Alter Kohlhof consists of your standard cushioned, antique wooden chair.  Along the walls are booth bench seating.  Pink tablecloths, overlapped by a flower designed cloth, decorate the tables.  Each is adorned with a pink candle, along with salt and black pepper grinders and a sugar dispenser.  All of the tables are set up nicely with 2 forks and knife and a folded napkin.  English popular music quietly plays from the speakers.

Alter Kohlhof offers a vast assortment of traditional German dishes.  The menu is elegantly and professionally designed and offers something for everybody.  There are various salads, home made seasonal specialties, vegetarian appetizers and main courses, and traditional dishes from the surrounding regions.  For dessert, there are different types of ice cream and a handful of cakes to choose from.  Included in the seasonal listings is also a special limited time dessert.  Impressively, Alter Kohlhof lists a variety of after-dinner drinks.  The standard drink menu includes your typical warm drinks – coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and such – as well as regular cold beverages.

Adding to the list of impressive features, Alter Kohlhof serves different specialties practically every month.  There is an Alter Kohlhof exclusive culinary calendar that describes special events and regional specialties served only during certain times of the year.  Ranging from wild game to traditional holiday foods, Alter Kohlhof is a great place to experience true southern German cooking.


Instead of trying one of the monthly specialties, I decided on traditional German dishes – Käsespätzel and Schnitzel.  Appealing about these menu offerings are the accompanying descriptions about being made according to grandma’s recipe.  Nothing like good old family tradition recipes!

The Badische Rahm-Käs-Spätzle (Baden region creamy cheese spätzle) is offered as both a regular main dish, at 8,90 €, and as a small side portion for 6,90 €.  Simply put, this dish is a must!  The cheese sauce is rich, thick, and creamy.  As advertised, this dish is certainly not for those calories counters!  The spätzle egg noodles are firm and contrast with the creamy, thick cheese sauce.  Added amongst the noodles are crisp, sweet onions that have been sautéed until translucent.  The end result is a magnificent flavor combination that will have you dreaming about Käsespätzle for days.


Priced at 11,90 €, the Schweineschnitzel ‘Wiener Art’ (Vienna style pork schnitzel) is executed well.  The pork is pounded relatively thin and coated with a very heavy layer of breadcrumbs.  On top of the meat are a lemon, rind taken off, and a single parsley leaf.  The pork itself could use more salt and is a bit underwhelming, though, the schnitzel is served on a good amount of thick, rich mushroom gravy that provides all the essence required.

Accompanying this dish are Rotkraut (pickled red cabbage) and geschwenkten Kartöffelchen (potatoes tossed in butter).  Served steaming hot, the pale red cabbage is the perfect side dish to the schnitzel.  With it’s slightly sweet nature and subtle crunch, it gives the schnitzel a good flavor.  It’s also served on the same plate as the pork, so the juices blend in well with the gravy.


The round potatoes are cooked perfectly – not too soft to the point of falling apart, but also firm enough to hold its shape.  Garnished with chopped parsley, they are served in a small side dish.  Despite spots of butter being visible in the afternoon light, eaten alone the potatoes still seems lacking.


Desserts are not only simple, but also inexpensive.  Sweet tooths will not enjoy any of the cheese cakes, as German style cheese cakes are not typically heavy on the sugar.  However, the Käse-Kirsch-Streuselkuchen (cheese cake with sour cherries topped with streusel) is pleasing enough.  Eaten altogether, especially with the crumbed topping, the cake completes any meal wonderfully.  And at 2,00 € a slice, you won’t have to dig too deep into your wallet!

Be aware that as the weather gets better, many locals and well-informed visitors visit this place and thus the place can get packed quickly.  After all, it’s a nice escape from the overly touristy parts of the city down below.  Alter Kohlhof is a good find in the middle of essentially nowhere.



Nestled away in Heidelberg’s mountainous region near the Königstuhl summit, Alter Kohlhof is a quaint, charming restaurant, country hotel, and winery offering a lovely escape from the hectic city.  The restaurant offers an extensive selection of traditional German cuisine, as well as seasonal offerings that will keep you coming back for more.  Pleasant atmosphere, both inside the restaurant and outside in the beer garden.  Excellent, friendly service.  Prices reasonable.

Hours: Varies depending on Season
            April – September: Daily from 11:00 AM – 11:30 PM
            October – March: Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00 AM – 10:30 PM


Overall – 5 stars

  • Badische Rahm-Käs-Spätzle nach Omas Rezept – 5/5
  • Schweineschnitzel „Wiener Art“ (wie bei Oma in der guten Stube) – 4.5/5
  • Käse-Kirsch-Streuselkuchen – 5/5
  • Service – 5/5



Written by geschmack

April 16th, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Gaststätte Essighaus (Updated)

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Plöck 97 69117 Heidelberg

After scouring countless restaurants for weeks, looking for one that lists an admired national dish on the menu, and after asking several local residents in Heidelberg, I finally find it back at GaststätteEssighaus.  Surprisingly, sauerbraten, one of Germany’s national dishes, cannot be found in every German restaurant in this touristy city.  As soon as I tasted it, however, the reason for it immediately became apparent.

Sauerbraten is a unique twist to traditional style pot roast – it consists of beef (rump steak) marinated for days in a mixture of vinegar, spices, and seasonings.  Sauerbraten is, for some people, an acquired taste.  Those accustomed to pot roast may have a difficult time adjusting to the nice hint of sourness in this dish.  The tanginess is by no means overwhelming, but it is present in every part of the meat.  This sensory experience can be repulsive at first, but eventually grows on you with each and every bite.


The Sauerbraten meal at Essighaus, priced at 10,50 €, is served with the soup of the day (Tagessuppe), a side salad, and homemade Spätzle.  On this day, the featured soup is noodle soup.  As before, the warm soup is individually poured by the server from a medium sized container into your bowl.  The bite sized strings of noodle are soft, but the flavor is pretty standard.  Again, the salad is served with an appetizing herb cream sauce that is slightly reminiscent of pesto.  The carrots, cabbage, kraut, and lettuce are all fresh and enjoyable.


Three slices of slow cooked beef is anchored in a generous amount of tasty, home-style brown gravy sauce.  Garnished on top of the meat is chopped parsley; on the side is a leaf of lettuce with sliced radishes gingerly sleeping aboard.  The flavorful gravy sauce clearly intensifies the flavor of the dish.  Eating a piece of tender, succulent beef with the sauce creates a balance of sour and salty.  Unfortunately, the texture of the beef is not consistent throughout – some parts are tough and chewy, while other portions of the meat simply melt in your mouth.  In spite of this, the meal tastes delicious once you get used to the flavor of the beef.

Traditionally served with Sauerbraten is a German egg noodle side dish known as Spätzle.  The noodles have a soft, delicate texture that goes well with the juicy, succulent meat.  Alone, the noodles taste bland (this is not Käsespätzle, which would be noodles with cheese).  Adding a little salt or dipping the Spätzle in the gravy sauce gives the noodles flavor.  The combination of the Sauerbraten and Spätzle works really well together.

Gaststätte Essighaus is an ideal place to escape Heidelberg’s Hauptstraße and enjoy a delicious, hearty meal.  With generous portions, a pleasant staff, traditional meals, and deliciously cooked food, Essighaus is one of the best overall German restaurants in Heidelberg.



Located on a street parallel to the busy Heidelberg Hauptstraße, Gaststätte Essighaus is a quaint, quiet restaurant serving up authentic German dishes including schnitzel, steaks, and fish dishes, amongst others.   Great, quick service.  Inexpensive, hefty portions.

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Noodle Soup – 4/5
  • Salad – 4/5
  • Sauerbraten – 4/5
  • Spätzle – 4/5
  • Service – 5/5


Written by geschmack

March 3rd, 2010 at 6:20 pm