Review: Restaurant Alter Keller and a Day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

Every Buzzfeed article about “26 Real Life Disney Locations” or “13 Most Beautiful Towns In The World” or “7 Best-Preserved European Medieval Towns” will include the Bavarian town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber on their list. This beautiful town is a key part of the famous German ‘Romantic Road’, a route which will take you through some of the quaintest small towns of southern Germany.

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After a few weeks of visiting larger cities, K and I were ready for a slice of small town life lived at a slower pace. Rothenburg was the obvious choice for two days of ridiculously picturesque living and immersion into another era. After a three hour train trip from our last stop in Munich (two train changes!), we arrived at this picturesque town. With every step from the train station to our little Airbnb studio in the attic of an old townhouse, I found myself falling in love with the cheerfully colourful town.

A highlight over the two days of our stay was going on the Night Watchman’s Tour, a late-night tour of the old city recounting stories of the glory days of Rothenburg’s past – and some of its less reputable history as well. We made friends with a number of extremely friendly cats in the town, and given that we were there to rest and relax away from big city living, we also treated ourselves to a 90-minute massage at ‘Wellness Massage’ for a very cheap $75 AUD per person.

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Given that we had splurged on the massages, we decided to be a bit kinder to our travel budget by preparing most of our meals in our little studio with some help from the local supermarket. We did treat ourselves to one meal out though – at Alter Keller, a traditional Bavarian pub not far from our studio.

It’s interesting to note that a number of restaurants were closed in the month of November – as a slow trading period between the heights of summer and the Christmas season, many shopkeepers and restauranters choose to take their breaks at that time. Our first choice for dining out was closed for this reason, but luckily Alter Keller stepped up and offered us a pretty excellent meal.

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It was most definitely evident on our arrival that we were dining in low season. We were the first diners in the restaurant for lunch, and in the time that we were there, only two other groups came in for a meal. With such low traffic during the day, I expect that they make the most of their night-time trade with the locals.

Hacker-Pschorr, 3.30 Euro
Hacker-Pschorr, 3.30 Euro

An Apfelschorle for me, as per my habit when dining in Germany. I still love that combination of bubbles and slightly less sweet apple juice, and do hope to buy a Sodastream when I return to Australia so that I can make myself apfelschorle any time I want! K had a Hacker-Pschorr beer, which he found more savoury and less sweet than the Augustiner beers that he had been having in Munich.

Kalbsrollbraten, mit Champignonrahmsosse und hausgemachte spatzle, 13.80 Euro
Kalbsrollbraten, mit Champignonrahmsosse und hausgemachte spatzle, 13.80 Euro

The benefit of travelling as a couple is that if you can’t decide which of two meals to order, you can always split the difference and order one of each to share! The first meal we ordered was a Kalbsrollbraten, or a veal roast with mushroom sauce and spätzle. This was actually the first time that we had tried spätzle while in Germany, and I found it surprisingly eggy, reminding me of Chinese egg noodles. Though it was a bit plain by itself, it worked extremely well with the rich creamy and slightly peppery mushroom sauce which came with the tender veal roast.

Saftgulasch vom Bayerischen Weiderind mit hausgemachten Servittenknodel und Krautsalad, 13.80 Euro
Saftgulasch vom Bayerischen Weiderind mit hausgemachten Servittenknodel und Krautsalad, 13.80 Euro

The second meal we ordered was a rich and savoury Gulash made of tender and flavourful local beef, served with two slices of bread dumplings and a side salad. The salad (pictured below) was actually a sweet and tart sauerkraut accompanied with a few limp lettuce leaves – unremarkable. The gulash was another thing all together, with the most delicious rich meaty sauce that had me wishing for another ladleful of sauce to eat with some fresh crusty bread.

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Alter Keller is pretty good as far as restaurants go in an extremely touristy town like Rothenburg. They serve up a hearty and decent meal at a reasonable price, in a quaint and traditional wood-panelled Bavarian restaurant. I’d love to see what it’s like at the peak of tourist season though – whether they manage to maintain their standard of cooking, and whether the atmosphere in the pub is made more convivial.

As for Rothenburg the town itself, it’s so ridiculously picturesque that it really does deserve to be on those Buzzfeed ‘best of’ lists. I wouldn’t mind visiting again – perhaps next time as part of a driving holiday where we’ll visit all the different German towns on the Romantic Road.

Restaurant Alter Keller is located at 8 Alter Keller, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.

Chanoy Honeymoon: Munich, November 2015

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

For all its grandeur, size, and number of inhabitants, Munich is still nothing more than a large village. I don’t say this to be demeaning or to discount its attractions – I actually think that it’s one of the greatest things about a visit to Munich. No matter how large and cosmopolitan this capital of Bavaria becomes, it maintains a cosy village-feel where every face you pass on the street has a smile and a friendly ‘Guten Morgen’ to offer.

This sense of village camaraderie is most evident on Sundays in the Englischergarten, the large public park to the north-east of the city. All shops are closed, and the focus is on family and friends. Everyone comes out in force – young lovers holding hands strolling through winding lanes through the parklands, families with kids in strollers having picnics, teams playing soccer on the sporting fields, performing artists busking and playing music, older retirees sitting and sharing a beer in the biergarten, even keen surfers making the most of the artificial wave in the park’s river.

We were lucky enough to join everyone on a beautiful sunny Sunday in the park, just as the season was turning and the autumn colours were coming through. With blue skies above and crunchy red and golden leaves below, it felt like we were walking through a fairytale. The Englischergarten on a Sunday is definitely a prime people-watching experience I would recommend for any visitor to Munich!

If you want to spend more time in nature, I can also recommend spending some time in the Olympiapark, the site of the sadly tragic 1972 Munich Olympic Games. The green spaces and lakes there are extremely tranquil, and well worth a walk around. If you’re into motorcars as well, I can also recommend the BMW Welt located in Olympiapark, where you can see displays of their latest models and visit a museum as well (not so much of interest for me, but K certainly enjoyed himself!).

If you’re limited on time, you could also consider a free walking tour of Munich for a quick snapshot of Munich’s history. Like the ones we did in Torino and Lisboa, the free walking tour of Munich by Sandeman’s New Europe is run entirely on a tips basis – you pay what you think the tour was worth to you. The day we did the tour also happened to be the first day of the Bavarian ‘silly season’, so our tour started off with a performance by a local oompah band. Now that was a pleasant surprise!

Food-wise, there’s no denying that Munich is the star of Bavarian cuisine, and Bavarian cuisine is the star of German cuisine world-wide. We had a great traditional Bavarian meal at Tattenbach, a less impressive meal at Augustiner am Platzl, and had many casual snacks of pretzels and ‘meat rolls’ from butchers and delis, where they’ll slice off bits of their cold meats to make you a sandwich on demand. (Randomly, we also had an Italian meal at San Benno which was surprisingly excellent.)

I loved our visit to Munich, and I have to admit that I’m glad that we visited when we did. It was a few weeks after Oktoberfest so we missed out on the orgy of Australians vomiting Bavarian beer everywhere. As a result, we had a much more sedate time in Munich, enjoying nature, food and community, rather than wasting our days getting drunk. I’d definitely be interested in visiting Munich again, but perhaps using it as a base for exploring other parts of Bavaria on our next trip.

Review: Tattenbach, Munich, Germany

On our first attempt to go to a little Bavarian pub with good reviews, we were foiled by a lack of research on our own part. With most shops and many restaurants in Munich closed (by law!) on a Sunday, Tattenbach, our dining location of choice, was closed. A few days later we just happened to be in the same district of Munich and decided to revisit Tattenbach for lunch and make up for lost time. I’m glad we made this effort, because it was here that we had one of the better Bavarian-style meals that we had during our stay in Munich.

It was a little past the official lunch hour, so the pub was relatively quiet. Groups of local office workers out for their midday meal were just getting ready to leave as we arrived, and instead we found ourselves in the restaurant with a few solo older men who were there to read their newspapers over a pint of beer. At one point, the bartender came out to have his meal as well with a few friends who had dropped by.

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The interior of the pub is everything you would imagine of a traditional Bavarian pub with old-fashioned dark wood panelling on both walls and floor. Old wrought iron chandeliers and cosy little corner booths complete the scene. It’s very much a smaller and quainter pub when compared to pubs like Augustiner am Platz and the famous Hofbrauhaus. With its size, comes a certain local authenticity – you know that it’s locals who dine here, not tourists.

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We ordered a drink each – an Augustiner Brau lager for K, and I ordered an ‘orange juice’ which ended up being a San Pellegrino Aranciata. Interestingly, it seems as though Bavarian pubs have contracts with particular local breweries – Tattenbach carried only Augustiner Brau beers. It’s definitely a change from Australia where you can get everything from a Carlton to a Heineken or a Sapporo on tap.

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This style of brand loyalty highlights a certain sense of local pride in the Bavarian brewing tradition which is commendable. When a beer is as light and drinkable as an Augustiner lager, a perfect accompaniment to heavy Bavarian meals, this loyalty makes a lot of sense!

Steak from the Bavarian (organic) pork neck with fried onions, roasted potatoes, herb butter. Served with small mixed salad. 12.90 Euro.
Steak from the Bavarian (organic) pork neck with fried onions, roasted potatoes, herb butter. Served with small mixed salad. 12.90 Euro.

To go with his lager, K ordered the Bavarian Pork Neck Steak. Served with the most delightfully crunchy thin-sliced roast potatoes and crispy fried onions on top, the steak was cooked quite well. While I found it a little bit fatty, K enjoyed the meat with some of the fragrant herbed butter spread on top.

Roasted Bavarian pork shoulder with crackling, fresh from the oven with homemade natural beer gravy, potato and bread dumpling served with sauerkraut salad. 9.90 Euro.
Roasted Bavarian pork shoulder with crackling, fresh from the oven with homemade natural beer gravy, potato and bread dumpling served with sauerkraut salad. 9.90 Euro.

I ordered the Bavarian pork shoulder with crackling – a much better choice for me as the meat was quite lean and tender. The separate piece of crackling did have a thin layer of fat inside which helped to moisten the crunchy piece of hard crackling. Most delightful when soaked in the rich beer gravy, with a mouthful of the surprisingly light potato dumpling. The bread dumpling on the other hand was a bit dry, but improved with liberal lashings of the gravy.

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You’re probably thinking that the two meals we ordered were rather meat-heavy! I’ve often found that on our travels – often there’s just not enough healthy vegetables served with a meal, leaving you feeling particularly bloated. It certainly makes staying healthy and maintaining weight a lot more difficult while on holidays.

Luckily, both our meals came with their own respective side salads – an extremely fresh and crunchy sauerkraut for me (only light dressed, mixed with some delicious parsley and fennel seeds for extra flavour), and a simple garden salad for K (unfortunately overdressed, but a good variety of vegetables).

Tattenbach is a gorgeous little Bavarian pub that acts as a true ‘local pub’, rather than a tourist trap like Hofbrauhaus. The beers are local and the food is rich, full of flavour, and fantastic value. I’d highly recommend going to Tattenbach to anyone who’s after great local Bavarian food and drink, without the noisy tourist crowds.

Tattenbach is located at 6 Tattenbachstraße, Munich.