[Rothenburg, Bavaria, Germany] Burgerkeller – No Burgers Here, Just Great German Cuisine

28 11 2013

More than midway into my exchange program in Germany, the German towns that have left the greatest impressions so far are the little towns dotted along the Romantic Road (a German invention of the post-war 1950s when the country was eager to rebuild its tourism industry) that stretches from Fussen in the South to Wurzburg in the North. This was also where I had my most memorable German meal to date, in a medieval-looking little town called Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

While the cuisine in Rothenburg is marketed as Fraconian (an independent region before it merged with Bavaria), I found it pretty similar to Bavarian cuisine, with staples such as Potato Dumplings instead of rice or potato mash.

Translated to mean Burger Cellar, I was initially highly skeptical about Burgerkeller’s abiliy to serve up authentic German dishes. We later found out that Burgerkeller was a slight misnomer. The restaurant was located in a cellar but no burgers were served here. The dim lighting and small-scale of about 10 tables added to the intimacy of the restaurant. Floor operations were handled by just 1 captain, which he did excellently. He patiently took our orders, never rushed nor gave us any dirty looks despite our incessant flow of questions regarding the dishes on the menu and still found time to go around the restaurant checking in on guests to ensure that everything was going smoothly. Kudos to the service!

Food here was exceptional as well. We took an adventurous leap and ordered the Bavarian Liver Dumpling Soup (3.80 Euros), which came as a liver meatball over a savory base. I didn’t take too much to the soup base but the liver meatball was pretty tasty and really delicate.

Our favourite main came rather unexpected – the Smoked Blood and Liver Sausages and Roast Sausages on Sauerkraut and Potatoes (9.30 Euros). I have had blood sausages before and thought I had a pretty good idea of how they should taste like but the ones here were really mind-blowing. Just when I thought that was it, I took a bite of the liver sausages and realized that it was even tastier, with a more mousse-like texture compared to the chunky texture of the blood sausages.

Coming in a close second was the Pork Knuckle on Sauerkraut and Potato Dumplings (12 Euros). I’m guessing the pork knuckle was boiled and perhaps baked given that the meat was awfully tender but with a light charred (but still moist) exterior. The taste reminded me much of canned stewed pork, just that the meat was much more tender and less fats had dissolved upon cooking (which I imagine was due to well-timed cooking).

I would have been more impressed by the Roast Pork in Dark Beer Sauce with Potato Dumplings and Red Cabbage (9 Euros) had it not been for the pork knuckle. It was pleasant initially but the meat became tougher after being left alone for some time.

Possibly the most uncharacteristically German (and least impressive) item we had was the Fried Pork Steak covered in Basil, Tomatoes and Melted Swiss Cheese on Potato Wedges (10.50 Euros). It felt like something we could have gotten at a Hong Kong Café. The only saving grace was the Wedges, which is definitely in the top 5 percentile from what I’m used to having.

Although we were stuffed and had initially agreed to skip desserts due to our heavy late lunch, we had enjoyed the food so much that we couldn’t possibly leave without at least sharing their dessert so we ordered the only dessert item on their menu which was the Fresh Warm Apple Strudel with Vanilla Ice Cream and Whipped Cream (4.50 Euros). Again, it was one of the better apple strudels we have tried so far in Germany.

For beverages, I ordered the Untereisenheimer Sonnenberg Kerner von leichter Sube (4.20 Euros), a semi-sweet wine. It really suited my tastes, so much so that I ordered a 2nd glass and will actively attempt to look out for it in Singapore.

My initial view on German cuisine was that it is unsophisticated and haphazard. Burgerkeller did much to change my perception and I’m truly grateful for the experience. Do take the chance to drop by if you are around the area.

PS: Later found out from a German friend that Burger actually means citizen. So, Burgerkeller should be translated to mean Citizen Cellar rather than Burger Cellar which I mentioned erroneously above.

Burgerkeller

Herrngasse 24, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

Tel: +49 9861 2126

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Magma German Wine Bistro – My Favourite Watering Hole

27 05 2012

I first came to know about Magma 2 years ago when I participated in one of Time Out’s Dine Out Tasting Events, in which it was one of the 10 odd participating restaurants. Each of the participating restaurants featured some of their signatures and Magma left the deepest impression, with their freshly baked German Pizza and free-flow of German wines. My friend D and myself were so intrigued by the wine we tried that soon after the event, we paid a visit to Magma. That was the start of my Magma adventures and whenever any friends needed a suggestion for a watering hole, it would always be the first on my list.

As a regular here, I have to say I’m a little apprehensive blogging about this as one of the main reasons why I love the place is because the crowd is thin on weekday nights and is a perfect place to catch up with friends over affordable wines that ranges as low as $25 per bottle. In my mind, having too many people know of Magma will simply spoil the exclusivity and charm of the place. But I guess good food and drink is meant to be shared and Magma should be rewarded for hosting the good times I have had over the past 2 years.

As Magma operates a wine shop within the restaurant premises as well, the wine menu here is really extensive. I estimate that the restaurant carries around 250-300 different wine labels from Germany, a number you are unlikely to find in many other restaurants locally. I have only tried about 5 or 6 though, sticking to the ones that are generally sweeter and not too dry, suitable for unsophisticated drinkers. My favourite one here is the GEWUERZTRAMINER & SCHOENBURGER & RIESLING (Blend) ($37++), a still White wine which has been recommended by “The Local Nose” and attained a “SILVER” in Wine & Spirits Asia 2012. Although Gewuerztraminer (pronounced goose-ter-min-er) is a red grape, the wines gained from it are white, though the colour tone is slightly more golden compared to most white wines. Texture wise, it’s very smooth and easy to drink with floral undertones as it shares similar aromatic compounds to lychees, pairing well with cheese, roasted poultry, roasted fish as well as Flammkuchen (German pizza which will be covered below).

Another wine that provides great value is the ROTKAEPPCHEN Rubin red ($29++), a sparkling red wine which has attained a “Bronze” in “WineStyleAsiaAward 2011”. ROTKAEPPCHEN literally means Little Red Riding Hood in German, named as such because the top of the wine bottle is sealed in a ruby red foil. Again, its on the semi-sweet side and personally, I think it pairs well the Roasted Pork Knuckle here.

For food, I’d highly recommend trying out the Flammkuchen (sometimes referred to as a Tarte Flambee). It is a thin Crispy German Pizza with Sour Cream, Bacon & Onions ($16/$24 for Small/Regular) and is a great accompaniment for a bottle of white wine. Apart from Bacon & Onions, diners can also choose to have other topping mixes such as “Spinach & Cheese”, “Smoked Salmon & Leek”, “Chicken Breast with Tomato, Onions, Apple & Cheese”.

Something you can give a miss is the Beef Goulash with Capsicum, Onion & Spaetzle ($26++). In essence, it is simply an unexciting beef stew with egg noodle or pasta. The beef is the chunky type, not the fatty marbled ones that I like.

The Wildschweinbraten or Pan Fried Female Wild Boar with Forest Mushrooms & Potato Croquettes ($38++) is good too. The meat is utterly tender with a good fat-meat ratio but I wasn’t too excited about the cream sauce though as it didn’t add much value to the dish.

A must-try at Magma is their signature Pork Knuckle with Sauerkraut, Mashed Potatoes, German Mustard & Beer Gravy ($29++ for Roasted Bavarian-style as per picture below). However, the lack of consistency can be an issue as the Pork Knuckle is freaking awesome only two-thirds of the time. On off-days the meat can be a tad too sinewy, and the crackling soggy but I believe it’s still worth taking my chances whenever I’m here. Another good point is that the portions are huge so I usually find trouble finishing it all by myself when I order this for dinner. Apart from the Roasted Bavarian-style, there are other styles available as well for how you want your Pork Knuckle to be done. This includes Boiled Berlin-style ($28++), Roasted Honey Glazed ($34++), Roasted Garlic Flavour ($34++), Roasted Chili Flavoured ($34++).

For amateur drinkers, I think Magma is definitely a great place to start out. The staff are friendly and the owners (a German couple) run the restaurant themselves, so any queries on wine selection or appreciation can be directed straight at them or the staff. And from my interactions with them, I believe it is fair to say they are always happy to educate new drinkers.

Magma German Wine Bistro

2 Bukit Pasoh Rd

Tel: +65 6221 0634








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