Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wine bar! And our very first visit to the Block House...

Yesterday, Bill and I visited the dentist in downtown Stuttgart for our biannual cleanings.  As is our habit, after we visited the dentist, we hung around downtown for dinner.  I was unusually stressed yesterday, but the truth is, for months I'd been wanting to try a certain wine bar near the Markthalle.  Die Weinhandlung Kreis is a small wine shop, but you can also go there to taste wines and enjoy snacks.  We'd passed by the place so many times and I wanted to go in to see what it was about, but every time I paused by the door, Bill convinced me to move onward.  Yesterday, I was determined to finally try the place.  And frankly, after my dental cleaning and the huge Stau that preceded it, I was in need of a soothing red for my jangled nerves!

Die Weinhandlung Kreis near the Schillerplatz in downtown Stuttgart is a very small place, but they have wines and local spirits.  Yesterday, I noticed they were selling Chartreuse and Monkey 47 Gin, which is a gin made here in Baden Württemberg.  We discovered Monkey 47 Gin when we visited Hamburg in January 2015 and since then, we've enjoyed it ourselves.  My German sucks, but I can see from Die Weinhandlung Kreis's Web site that this little wine bar is just one address affiliated with Die Weinhandlung Kreis.  They have a main shop in Stuttgart South, as well as an online store.  They even have a vineyard.  I can tell that Bill and I are going to have to get to know this business better.

Anyway, the lady who was running the shop yesterday wasn't super friendly, but she was quick to get Bill and me a couple of large glasses of vino.  I tried a lovely Gigondas that was very nice in the late afternoon.  Bill had a Spanish red that had almost a menthol tinge to it.  It was very interesting.  They were playing cool jazzy music on vinyl in the cozy tasting room.  Had we not had plans to visit the Block House afterward, we might have tried a snack to go with the wine.  They had quite a few reds and whites available, as well as at least one sparkling wine.  We will definitely be back.


Ahh... red wine in the afternoon.  You can get a small or large glass.  I went with a large.


Bill sporting his new sporty goatee as he enjoys a red.  On the wall, you can see a list of what was available yesterday.  


Tiny bar.  Sorry this picture is a bit blurry.  I was trying not to be conspicuous.  Behind the turntable is a blurry list of snacks.  We ended up buying a bottle each of the reds we tried.  It's worth mentioning that this wine bar takes credit cards-- even the ones from America! 

I felt a bit more relaxed after the wine and my stomach told me it was time for dinner.  I had been wanting to try the Block House chain restaurant in Stuttgart for some time.  Now that I have, I can write a review.  Later, I will write a post detailing all of our local steakhouse experiences.   


I saw this on the way to the Block House and thought it was nifty.  It was in front of a shoe store.  



I also noticed this coffee shop right next to the Block House location on Eberhardstraße.  They sell cups of coffee, but they also sell beans.  We may have to pay them a visit, so maybe I won't need to spend 40 euros in duty taxes plus $40 in shipping for Peet's again!

The first thing to know about the Block House is that there it's a chain restaurant.  There are 47 Block House restaurants, 38 of which are in Germany.  Two of those 38 locations are in Stuttgart.  In that way, Block House is not unlike Maredo, another German steakhouse chain that has two locations in Stuttgart.  Curiously, the two Stuttgart area Maredo locations are practically within sight of each other.  

The next thing to know about the Block House is that it runs all day.  There is no pause between lunch and dinner.  This is a very fine thing.  We were able to visit the restaurant yesterday before it got super busy.  Indeed, it was somewhat chill when we arrived at 5:00pm and was pretty full by the time we left a couple of hours later.


Bill anticipates a good hunk of meat.  He said the restaurant reminds him of an American place.  I agreed.  In fact, they were even playing early 80s pop music, which I kind of dug.

Block House is a very casual place.  We were invited to sit where we wanted.  When we sat down and the waiter realized we weren't German, he asked if we needed menus in English.  Of course we said no!  Bill likes to show off his mad skills... which unfortunately, I am still trying to develop.


We started with a very nice bottle of Malbec, along with San Pellegrino.  I ordered the Hereford Rib Eye, while Bill went with a Filet.  Both dishes came with salads and Block House bread, as well as a potato or pommes.

As we were sitting there soaking up the atmosphere, Bill got a strange look on his face.  I asked him what was the matter, and then it became obvious.  The waiter put my salad in front of me and it was loaded with huge sliced mushrooms.  I took in a quick gasp of surprise and horror because I have a phobia of mushrooms.  Fortunately, Bill was kind enough to take them out of my salad.


Next time, I'll know to tell them to hold the fungus!


The steaks were very good.  I was able to ask them to hold the sour cream and got butter instead.  I could have also had garlic butter.  My rib eye was about 250 grams and cooked to a perfect medium temperature.  The bread appeared to be a bun sliced, buttered, topped with garlic salt, and toasted.  It was pretty good, if not a bit generic.


Bill's filet and sour cream covered potato.

We decided to have dessert.  It turned out to be a treat.  Those of you who love lava cakes will be happy to know you can get one at Block House.  I have an aversion to lava cakes, so I went with the New York Cheesecake, which came with a lovely warm blueberry sauce.


This was pretty damn delicious!  I am a sucker for cheesecake, even if I don't eat cold, stinky cheese!


Bill had the Eis und Heiß, vanilla ice cream with a warm berry sauce.  He enjoyed it very much.

The bill came to about 82 euros before the tip.  While it wasn't the best steak I've had in Stuttgart, I will say that we did enjoy our visit to Block House and would go again.  And now that I've finally tried the Block House, perhaps it's time to write a comparison of all the steaks we've had here so far.  Stay tuned!




The outside of one of Stuttgart's two Block House locations.

This is the end of my restaurant review.  Stop reading if you have delicate sensibilities about sex.

On the way back to the car, we passed Dr. Mueller's Sex Shop.  I have never actually been inside the place, but this particular chain store has the distinction of being one of my most vivid memories of my first visit to Germany in 1997.  I came here on the way home from Yerevan, Armenia and two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  The Frankfurt Airport, at that time, had a couple of Dr. Mueller's locations within it.  I remember being shocked as I passed it.  So, in honor of that memory, I decided to snap a few photos of the location in downtown Stuttgart.  Maybe someday, we'll venture inside. 





Looks pretty tasteful to me.

Tune in next time for whatever crap I discover next.  



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