Saturday, October 31, 2015

Lunch at [M]eatery... and a run in with PETA...

Bill and I are always on the lookout for good places to eat.  We had heard a lot about [M]eatery in Stuttgart and noticed that it's located very close to where we go to the dentist.  I told Bill we should visit over the weekend.  He told me that he'd heard that PETA was going to be protesting on Saturday.  Not knowing what kind of presence PETA has in Germany, he said maybe we should try to visit on Friday instead of Saturday.  But then it turned out [M]eatery was booked solid both Friday and Saturday nights.  So we decided to go there for lunch today and brave the PETA protest.  I grew up sorta near Norfolk, VA, which is where PETA is based, so I got a bit of a kick out of the prospect of seeing a protest here in Germany.  We heard it was only going to be about 20 people anyway.

On the way to Stuttgart, we ran into a slight traffic problem.  B28 is completely shut down for roadwork.  Consequently, a whole lot of people were trying to get to the autobahn through one two lane road via the city of Herrenberg.  It was very backed up, kind of like my colon after a Schlactfest.

On the way through backed up Herrenberg.  Two different guys on motorcycles cut in front of us.  Bill looked exasperated after the second one went and the guy casually scratched his head... but we noticed his middle finger extended.  I say, if you're going to be ballsy enough to flip someone off, especially in a country where that's illegal and everyone has a camera, at least do it openly.  None of this pansy ass subtle shit...

The traffic was very annoying, but didn't delay us too much.  We got to the parking garage a few minutes after 2:00.  Our reservation was at 2:00.  The garage was packed, but we managed to find a spot anyway.

Outside at [M]eatery...

A server seated us at a comfortable two top with a nice view of the open kitchen.  We perused the very [literally] large menu.  Bill ordered wine and water.

The menu is literally big, as in it takes some coordination to hold it in your hands.  But it doesn't have a huge variety to choose from, unless you want meat.  There are plenty of cuts of beef from places around the world with some nice sides, sauces, butters, and oils.  They also have burgers, salads, and fish dishes.  I wonder how many people ordered the Porterhouse.  It runs for about 89 euros!  

Though we didn't necessarily need a menu in English, the waitress kindly gave us one.  I noticed that the weights on the beef were in ounces instead of grams, as they are on the German version.  They surely get a lot of Americans visiting them.  [M]eatery also has locations in Hamburg and Dresden.

Waiting for our first courses.  You can see the kitchen over Bill's shoulders.  The chef was appropriately pierced, though not as much as the chef at Tommi's.   The waitress brought out some hearty brown bread and butter.

Bill started with the "Beef Tea", which sounds kind of gross.  Basically, it's a soup that tastes like it's made from the drippings of a roast beef.  He loved it.  I thought it wasn't too shabby, either.

I had lobster chowder, which was rich and tasty and finished with watercress.  I didn't eat the whole thing because I wanted to have room for my steak.  The chowder was basically good, though the potatoes were just a tiny hair underdone.  

Bill opted for a sirloin with a side of fries... The fries were a little greasy, which is kind of the way I like them.  They had a rich potato flavor, though... like they came from Idaho or something.  

I had the 10.6 ounce rib eye with a side each of herbed mashed potatoes and spinach.  I enjoyed my steak, though I wasn't able to finish it or the sides.  It was the smallest rib eye they offered and cost 34 euros...  the funny thing is, I can get a similarly sized rib eye at Tommi's in my town for about 14 euros and change.  It tastes about the same and costs less than half as much as this did.  However, I really liked the sides at [M]eatery.  The spinach was done perfectly and wasn't too mushy and the mashed potatoes were surprisingly flavorful and comforting.  Tommi's doesn't offer the same sides-- I usually end up with frites there, which is fine, but given a choice, I probably would choose mashed potatoes to go with a steak.  Sides at [M]eatery are four euros each.

Halfway through lunch, our waitress changed clothes and took a break.  We were then looked after by a very professional male waiter who lit up when I asked him for brandy.  He wrapped up my leftovers into a basket.  I should have taught him how to make a swan.  ;-)

Bill had a double espresso.

I had a heavenly snifter of Hennessy XO, which runs 25 euros a pour.  That was the midrange cognac on offer.  The cheapest was nine euros and the most expensive was 49 euros.  All three were Hennessy.  I gotta say, the XO is very nice.

We finished up at about 4:00.  Our original waitress had changed back into her working clothes and presented us with the check.  Our bill before tip was about 165 euros, which was slightly less than what we were expecting.  Bill was able to pay with a credit card.  After we settled our check, we headed to where the PETA protest was.  I was expecting to see a bunch of picket signs and the like.  I must say, PETA surprised me by being clever...

Look in the distance and you can see a table set up with made up young people...  They were dressed like zombies!

I didn't want to get too close, though one of the zombies did hand me some literature...  Sorry these are not great pictures, but again, the protest was not very big.  Look toward the back right for black signs with purple lettering.  Some of the "zombies" were really taking their roles seriously.  Not only were they dressed the part and in full makeup, but they were even walking like something out of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.

I walked away with the leaflet, along with my meaty leftovers from [M]eatery...  The "protest" was very low key and kind of funny.  I liked that they took advantage of Halloween to make a statement, even though I'm not a vegetarian at all...  Frankly, I kind of admire people who don't eat meat.  Wish I wanted to do it.

The PETA literature... not nearly as offensive as a Jack Chick tract!

And next weekend, it appears that Stuttgart is going to have a big shopping event.  Since Herrenberg will likely still be STAU-ified, I doubt we'll take advantage...  Beyond this sign, a young man was playing new age piano versions of ABBA songs.  I must say I enjoy visiting Stuttgart.  Should have done it more when we were here from 07-09.

One last Stuttgart city view...

I don't know why, but we completely forgot about Halloween on the military installations.  We decided to stop by Patch on the way home for a pit stop and to pick up a few items from the commissary.  We were confronted by a huge line of cars and people waiting to go trick or treating.  I must admit, we saw some truly great costumes.  Bill saw one kid dressed as a Dalek, which is a character from Dr. Who, and he said the kid must be a real "geek"... but he meant that in the nicest possible way.  Bill is a geek himself and he is a big fan of Dr. Who.

Overall, we really enjoyed our lunch at [M]eatery, although to be very honest, I didn't think the steaks were better than what we have had at Tommi's Bistro here in Unterjettingen.  Tommi's is also a hell of a lot less expensive, offers live music, and we can walk there from our house.  I don't know if or when we'll be back to [M]eatery, though I would certainly recommend it to meat lovers who are in Stuttgart.

Practicing German with "The Mad Scientist"...

Last night, Bill and I decided to drive down to Entringen and have dinner at Agais.  If you read this blog regularly, you may know that we used to go to Agais all the time when we lived in Germany the first time.  It was located a few kilometers from our home.  Now that we live in Unterjettingen, it's not that close.  We still like to go down there, though, and visit "The Mad Scientist"...  He was having a pretty good night last night.  There were two guys in his dining room when we arrived, then another guy and another couple showed up.  We were warmly greeted  by name when we came in and sat down.

I had salmon and Bill had lamb.  It was not my first time having the salmon, but it was Bill's first time eating lamb at Agais.  He said it was very good.  My salmon was decent, too, and probably healthier than gyros would have been.

Bill's lamb.  He had a side salad with this.  His salad was smaller than the one that came with my dish.

Salmon with a little olive oil...

Obligatory shot of Bill...

I love the cool phonograph...

While we were sitting there, I asked The Mad Scientist about a sign he had on his wall.  Several years ago, he would have answered me in flawless English.  He told us that he lived in Canada for years and worked as an engineer.  Unfortunately, in the five years since we first lived here, he got sick.  I don't actually know what was wrong with him, but I'm guessing that he may have had a mild stroke.  He doesn't move as fast as he used to and I think his English skills have vastly deteriorated.  It's like he understands English, but can't really speak it anymore.  So he speaks mostly German to us now.  Fortunately, I understand much of what he says and sometimes I can even answer him.

Anyway, the couple sitting near us were locals who spoke great English.  They translated some of what our old friend said about the sign on the wall.  He had gotten it for preparing food with a certain type of olive oil.

We explained to the other couple that we used to live in the area and, back then, visited all the time.  Then we went back to the States and I missed The Mad Scientist and decent Greek food in general.  So now that we're back in Germany, even though we live in Unterjettingen, we still come down to see him.  The female half of the German couple said that she likes his food because it doesn't give her indigestion like other Greek restaurants do.  I thought that was a pretty funny comment.

I think The Mad Scientist had a good night last night, with three tables ordering dinner and Bill and I not ordering our usual gyros.  I even had an extra glass of wine.  I actually wanted retsina, but he either didn't hear me or didn't understand.  It's sad that his health has been declining, but I am glad to see he is still willing and able to run his restaurant.  We always have a good time when we see him.

Today, we have plans to have lunch in Stuttgart.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pasta at Provinciale in Nagold...

I think this will be the last of my restaurant reviews this weekend.  Bill has homework to do and I'm ready to hang out in my nightie on this cloudy Sunday.  We did decide to go to Nagold for lunch today because a fellow Stuttgart Friend 2.0er recommended Provinciale, which is right on the main square.  She said they had wonderful veggie pizza.  I believe her, because the restaurant smelled wonderful.  I decided on pasta, though.  So did Bill.

Looking on Trip Advisor, I see that Provinciale gets surprisingly low marks.  However, when we got there at about 1:00pm, they were doing a brisk business and it looked like everyone was pretty happy.  Indeed, I thought the waitress who helped us was super friendly and nice, the wine we drank was generously poured, the San Pellegrino was cold and fizzy, and the food was fine.  What more could we ask for?

Bill smiles for the camera.  He's very patient with my constant photographs.  If he were doing that to me, I might have to get snotty.

Anyway, though I was thinking about pizza, I am actually not the biggest fan of the pizza one finds in Germany.  I prefer big American ones that are shared.  I know that's lame.  I can't help it.  When I was a kid, I wouldn't even eat pizza.  It took a long time before I realized how good it can be.  Bill likes pizza more than I do and was thinking about getting some, but I talked him into getting lasagne.  I wanted to see if it had mushrooms in it.  I settled on farafalle with salmon and spinach.  We listened to Kiss and talked about David Hasselhoff, Clownvis the King of Clowns, and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne as we waited for the food.

My bowtie pasta with spinach and salmon was served with a mild cream sauce.  It was very good and not too much food.  What I liked best about this dish was that the salmon tasted fresh, as if it was recently cooked and slivered off for my pasta dish.  The spinach was good too.  Fresh and bright green, it was flavorful and not too mushy.

Bill also enjoyed his lasagne.  I'm proud to report that it had no mushrooms in it, though it did have peas and a boiled egg.  

Our bill came to 27,90, which I thought was a fair price.  I would definitely eat at Provinciale again.  I especially appreciated the friendly service, even if people on Trip Advisor panned it.  I also want to mention that this is also a kid friendly restaurant.  I saw many young folks enjoying lunch today.

Special thanks to Sarah from Wildberg for the recommendation! 

Breakfast at the Ritter Sport factory cafe...

This morning, Bill and I decided to go to the Ritter Sport factory's cafe for breakfast.  Although we've  lived in the Stuttgart area for a total of over three years and have been enjoying Ritter Sports the whole time, this was our first visit to the museum in Waldenbuch.  We kept meaning to go there and check out the museum, but never got around to it.  I had heard that they offered a nice breakfast at their restaurant and it's open on Sundays.  We showed up there at about 9:45 this morning and noticed that quite a few tables were reserved.  Fortunately, we found a spot to sit down next to a very nice German couple.

We were managing with the German menu, but the waitress kindly brought us one in English, even though we didn't request it.  I heard the Ritter Sport cappuccino is very good, but I decided to go with #11 on the menu,  a chocolate filled croissant and hot chocolate.  I also had orange juice because I need more sugar in my diet...  ;)

Flaky croissant... I don't think it was full of Nutella, which is a good thing.  The hot chocolate was amazing.  It had chocolate melted on the bottom.

Bill ordered scrambled eggs with ham, but ended up with eggs that had mozzarella and tomatoes in it and a cup of regular coffee.  They were good.

Bill is all done with breakfast.  Behind him is a case full of delicious looking pastries.  The cafe is obviously a great place to have coffee and cake.

I expected to see more Americans at the cafe, but the place was full of locals enjoying themselves, including one guy who was having beer.  We were finishing up breakfast when a familiar face came into view.  I finally got to meet our local Dutch handyman hero, Bram, and his adorable daughter.  It was an honor and a pleasure to finally see in person the man with whom I have interacted many times online.

After we paid, we took a quick walk around the grounds...

The folks living next to the factory had a cute little primate statue...

I noted that the fence was electric and Bill warned me that it's not a good idea to pee on an electric fence.  Not that I was tempted to do that, of course.  

They also had lots of signs...  This one was especially stern.  

Apparently, people have been letting their dogs crap on their property... I took pictures of two signs, though there were several...  I take it the shit and run action has been a real struggle for them.  I don't blame them for being "pissed"...

Pretty fall foliage.

After we were finished with breakfast, we went to Panzer so I could pick up a couple of sympathy cards for my cousin and her stepmother.  I hadn't been there since they finished the roadwork.  Nice to see that area somewhat functional again. 

If this post makes you want to visit the Ritter Sport Cafe for breakfast, I recommend making reservations or showing up early.  The place was pretty packed when we left.  And if you walk your dog in the area by the museum, be sure to bring your crap bags so more anti dog shit signs don't get posted.  We'll have to go back and actually tour the museum sometime.  I think we could have today, but we didn't feel like waiting around for it to open.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cafe-barON in Ludwigsburg...

This morning, Bill convinced me to go with him and the dogs on a walk.  While we were walking, we ran into a huge black squirrel that got the dogs going.  We marveled at how where we're from, we see a lot of big gray squirrels.  Here in Germany, they tend to be smaller and black or brown.  The one we saw this morning was a biggun, though.  I actually thought it was a rabbit at first.

When Bill asked me where I wanted to go this afternoon, I said I wanted to get rid of the huge backlog of beer bottles in my kitchen annex.  So we decided to hit Heinrich's 3000 drink market in Ludwigsburg.  Usually, when we go beer shopping, we stop at Heinrich's first.  But I noticed the time and realized that we were getting close to the 2:00 witching hour.  I wanted to try a different restaurant in Ludwigsburg and didn't want to end up hangry.   So we parked in a lot near the train station and walked into town...    

On the way in, we passed the world's largest piggy bank.  It's in the Guinness Book of World Records and everything.  I got a kick out of the German word for piggy bank (which is on the sign by the pig). As we passed, Bill made a surprisingly black humored and somewhat inappropriate joke that I probably shouldn't share here.  We had a good laugh, though.  Sometimes his smart assedness shocks me, not because I'm offended, but because he's usually so mild mannered and kind that when he gets snarky, it's especially funny.  I get a kick out of Bill when he catches me off guard.

We ended up at Cafe barON, which is right on the main square.  Lots of people were sitting outside because the weather was nice and the Saturday market was shutting down...

Today's menu.  The actual menu has mostly drinks and breakfast stuff in it, though you can order salads and a very limited selected of ciabatta sandwiches and pasta dishes.  I got the idea that they have daily specials.

We were served two hefeweizens reasonably fast, though it took a long time to put in our food order.  That wasn't entirely the wait staff's fault, though.  There were three of them handling a very large crowd of people sitting outside.  A few of us sat indoors where were able to watch the busy bartenders, but were a little neglected.  I did at least get a chance to see some of the dishes as they came out of the kitchen, which helped me make up my mind about what I wanted for lunch.  I thought about ordering a special that had shrimp and a baked potato, but I surmised (correctly) that the potato would be smothered in sour cream.  I like my potatoes with a little butter and salt.  I could have asked them to hold the sour cream, but figured I could use a break from shrimp.

So I ordered the lentil, spatzle, and wurst dish.  This was advertised as Linsen, Spatzle, und Saiten.  Bill looked up Saiten and Google translated it to mean "strings".  I had a feeling it would be served with wurst.  I was right.  But we were momentarily confused.   This was a lot of food.  I wasn't able to eat more than half of it.  I noticed the guy at the table next to us ordered it and finished maybe two-thirds.  I have a feeling the fiber is going to kick in big time.

Bill looks adorable with his spinach tortellini and gorgonzola sauce.  I was tempted by this, though I have to be careful when it comes to cheese.  This was verging on too strong for my tastebuds, but he liked it.  Another reason it would have been a bad choice for me is that I need protein or I get super bitchy after a sugar high.

The bill came to 23,50 euros.  I thought that was pretty reasonable.  The food was good at Cafe barON and it was fun to people watch, even though we were sitting inside.  They were playing some cool contemporary music, too.  I get the sense that their desserts are a hit.  Had I not been so full of lentils, maybe I would have tried one myself.  But we needed to get to Heinrich's and offload our bottles.

On the way to the car, we passed a travel bureau.  I was interested in all the places being advertised... most of them were former Soviet countries.  Perhaps someday I'll go back to the USSR for a visit...  

After a brief shopping excursion, we drove home.  I ranted the whole way, mainly about cellphone etiquette.  I will have to rant in written form about that on my main blog in awhile.  For now, I'll just say we liked Cafe barOn fine, though it was pretty busy today.  I'm sure we'll have the chance to try it again.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dinner at Mauerwerk in Herrenberg...

After two weekends of being cooped up at home, I was more than ready to go out tonight.  Originally, we thought we might go to Tuebingen and try a couple of places we'd visited last time we lived here.  But then, Bill remembered that there was a cool looking restaurant in Herrenberg that didn't exist when we were here last.  Also, even though we live close to Herrenberg again, we hadn't gone out to eat there in ages.  So we headed for Mauerwerk, a restaurant on the main drag through Herrenberg, at about 6:00 or so.  It was probably a good thing we went when we did, since we didn't have reservations.  We happened to score free parking in a lot for the Volksbank.

Outside of the restaurant.  For once I thought to take photos before it got too dark.

Mauerwerk is a cultural center housed in a building that used to be a church  It's now a very cool, contemporary restaurant that adjoins a stage/theater.  I gathered from looking at the posters near the restrooms that they have live music and other shows there sometimes.  There's also a small bar area near the stage.  We didn't really explore the area where the musicians play, though.  Our minds were on the food.

A very pleasant waitress greeted us and invited us to a two top table with an excellent view of the bar.  She spoke German to us, but the bartender overheard me speaking English.  We were offered English menus at that point, but told them it was okay... we generally understand menus in German.  I just can't speak German worth a damn.  My comprehension is getting better though, especially when it comes to reading.

After a few minutes, we were ready to order.  We had a bottle of sparkling water, some very nice red wine from the Languedoc region of southern France, a couple of starters, and our main courses.  I knew I'd need to pace myself.

Very nice French wine... 

This amuse reminded me a bit of a donut without sugar.  It was served with a rosemary cream spread.  I liked it.  It wasn't too strong.  And I am also a sucker for fried food.

Bill thinks about what he wants...

I had a curry soup with shrimp.  Bill had smoked salmon with seaweed salad and an wasabi type sauce.  The soup was very good and had a little zing to it, though I only ate about half.  Didn't want to get too full for the main courses.  Bill loved his smoked salmon, though the portion was pretty huge.  Actually, I think the soup and salmon would make a very nice lunch.

The food choices at Mauerwerk are rather eclectic.  They offered "tapas" as an appetizer, though they were not really Spanish.  Several choices were Thai inspired, though a few were German.  Bill's entree seemed to be influenced by Mexico.  Above, you can see the beautifully presented salmon filet I ordered.  It came with potatoes and onions and was artistically presented.  The salmon was beautifully cooked and flavorful.  I appreciated that it wasn't too well done.

Bill's tasty burger.  It came with fingerling potatoes and a side of what seemed to be salsa.  The burger had guacamole, bacon, salsa, and a rather strong cheese.  Bill liked it, though the cheese might have been too much for a cheese wimp like me.

Though we were full, we decided to have dessert anyway.  Bill had a mango inspired bread pudding.  I liked this because it wasn't sweet at all, save for the side of housemade vanilla ice cream... The portion was large, though.

I had chocolate mousse.  One ball was chocolate, another was white chocolate, and it came with a lovely array of berries... blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and currants...

By the time we were finished eating, the restaurant was pretty full.  People were turning away because there weren't enough big tables.  I think if you want to come on a weekend, it makes sense to get a reservation.  The food is well prepared and the portions are very generous.  I thought the prices were fair, too.  Our bill was about 90 euros and we tipped the waitress generously because she did a good job.  I noticed she spoke English, but didn't much to us.  I think she was afraid of making a mistake, though my German is enough to make anyone cry...  I'm pretty sure credit cards are accepted, though we paid in cash.

I was impressed by the scotches being offered.  I also spotted a bottle of 15 year old El Dorado rum from Guyana (probably my favorite rum) and locally made Monkey gin. On Sundays and holidays, Mauerwerk offers a breakfast.

I would say Mauerwerk is best suited for adults who like beautifully presented contemporary cuisine. I didn't see any kids at the restaurant and am not sure how well they are catered to; I didn't think to look, either, since I don't have any kids.  Again, I would recommend making reservations if you plan to go on a Friday or Saturday night.  It looks like things regularly get busy there.  Reservations can be made by phone or email.

We had a great time and I am sure we'll be back.  Mauerwerk has a lot of ambiance and character going for it besides offering good food and service.  If you're in Herrenberg and looking for a nice place for a meal, I think Mauerwerk is a good bet.