Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's dinner at Im Gärtle in Entringen...

Ever since we moved back to the Stuttgart area in 2014 after a five year absence, I have often remarked to Bill that it feels like we never left.  And yet, this time around, we are doing a lot more things locally than we did the first time we lived here.  During our first tour, we lived in a little town called Pfäffingen, which is about 10 kilometers from Herrenberg and maybe 7 from Tübingen.  Because we were living between two decent sized towns, we spent a lot of our time in those two towns.  

This time, we live in Jettingen, which is also about 10 kilometers from Herrenberg in a different direction.  We spend time in different places now, but still like to go to our old stomping grounds.  Entringen is a little hamlet in Ammerbuch, maybe two or three kilometers from Pfäffingen.  We had to drive through it any time we went to one of the four American military installations near Stuttgart. Now, we go to Entringen by choice when we want to see our old friend we nicknamed "The Mad Scientist" or are headed to Tübingen.  We don't even have to go that way if we don't want to.  We can access that area via a different route that doesn't take us through Herrenberg.

Somehow, the first time we lived here, I never heard of Im Gärtle.  It's in Entringen, kind of on the outskirts in an area of the town we had never before explored.  While Bill was in Africa last week, I was tasked with finding us a nice place for dinner on Valentine's Day.  When I noticed Im Gärtle on OpenTable, I was intrigued.  At first, I thought it was in Tübingen.  When I saw that it was actually in Entringen, I was very curious.  Then I saw that it got really good reviews on OpenTable and Trip Advisor.  I also noticed that all the reviews were in German.

I am a firm believer that locals are the best judges of local cuisine.  Most everyone had good things to say about Im Gärtle.  Both the food and the ambiance got good marks.  So I decided to make the reservation for 7:00 tonight.  We arrived right on time.   


A photo of the sign.  It was dark out... 

To get to the restaurant, you drive down B28 to the little town of Entringen, then turn onto a narrow residential street.  Hang a couple of more turns on equally narrow residential streets and head up a hillside.  The restaurant is at the top and offers a nice view... or, at least I think it would be very nice during the daytime.  I can see by the photos taken during the spring and summer that those are the best times to visit.  Then you can sit in the garden.  Parking for the restaurant is free and fairly plentiful.

The lady who greeted us didn't speak any English at all.  That was okay.  One of the waiters did, though he wasn't obvious about it.  Bill and I probably got more practice speaking German tonight than we have in a long time.  The dining room was full and we were, of course, the only Americans there.


Obligatory shot of Bill.  Right after I shot this, he ordered a Bordeaux and some sparkling water.


They brought out some delightful fresh bread, which was served with excellent butter.  There were two slices each. 


Next came an amuse.  Sweet slivers of peppers, zucchini, and eggplant drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar...  They were a nice way to start the meal.  


We each got green salads.  My dish did not come with a salad, so this is a photo of an a la carte salad. Bill's dish came with salad and his was smaller than mine was, but just as good.  Underneath the towering greens and endive was a small pile of potato salad and a mound of carrots.  The salads were topped with peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds.  This salad was too much for me to eat in one sitting, but it was delicious.  The dressing was like a smokey mustard vinaigrette.  I stopped after eating maybe half.  I knew the rest of dinner would be huge.


I had a porkloin with a side of colorful vegetables and spatzle.  I'm pretty sure the gravy was made with mushrooms (it had an earthy flavor), but I was able to avoid it easily enough.  The top of my pork is a garlic crust.


Family sized spatzle.  We took most of this home with us.


Bill had vension with spatzle, sauteed mushrooms, a roasted pear with cranberry sauce, and potato croquettes.  There was also a side of cream and venison meant to drench over the meal.  Most of that venison and cream came home with us.  Bill loved this dish... but he loves game anyway. 


For dessert, I had hot love...  that is, vanilla ice cream with hot raspberries, whipped cream, and a white chocolate/chocolate garnish.  The raspberries weren't actually that hot, but that was okay.  They tasted very fresh.  This restaurant prides itself on farm to table dining and that was evident with every dish, including dessert.


Bill had a Grand Marnier parfait.  It came with plums on the side.  The parfait was a little melted.  Bill enjoyed it anyway.


And we had espresso... and that came with cookies and sweets.

Service was leisurely, friendly, and very professional.  I could tell there were a lot of return visitors.  One couple had brought their well behaved dog with them, while another had a little boy who was honored with the task of bringing out the check.  This is definitely a family run establishment; everyone working there seemed invested in its success.  The two wait staff members were very nice and welcoming and the food was excellent.  And, at 119 euros, it didn't break the bank.  We were also allowed to pay with a credit card.


Another shot of the sign.


Not such a good shot of the beautiful wrought iron gate and steps leading to the restaurant.  Be advised if it's icy, you have mobility problems, or are walking in heels for the first time in awhile, like I was.  

Im Gärtle is a very charming restaurant.  The interior is a little 60s, with sort of a Brady Bunch vibe.  The music on the sound system was also straight from the 60s and 70s.  We heard "The Entertainer" and "Behind Closed Doors" by Charlie Rich on the sound system, at least until most everyone had left.  Then they turned off the music in the dining room and played some alternative tunes in the kitchen.  Bill got a kick out of that.

On the walls, there are many works of art.  Indeed, the restaurant even has an art museum, which is open for limited hours on the weekends.  Edited to add, my German friend Susanne says that 85 year old Manfred Lutz founded the restaurant over fifty years ago.  The artwork in the restaurant and museum was all done by him.  His grandsons are now in charge of the restaurant.  I think I saw Manfred Lutz at the restaurant last night.

I recommend making reservations.  It's very easy to do that using Open Table.

Tonight was our first visit to this restaurant, but I doubt it'll be our last.  We really had a good time and I want to see what it looks like when the weather is nice and the view is easier to see.  Highly recommended!

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