On thing Cologne, Germany is known for is its Kölsch (or Koelsch) beer. This beer is very light, crisp, dry, and refreshing, and it’s usually served in a tall, cylindrical, 20 cL glass called a rod or a spike. The server, called a Köbes, carries twelve of the “rods” in a caddy known as a Kranz. It looks kind of like a crown or a wreath.
Kölsch bars are plentiful in Cologne, but there’s one that is right in the thick of things. The Gaffel am Dom restaurant is next to the Excelsior Hotel Ernst and across from the train station. When we visited Cologne in 2012, we ate there, so we decided to do it again in 2019. As we walked into the large building, we were invited to sit wherever we wanted.
There are two entrances… one across from the train station and the other around the corner.
The inside of the restaurant. It’s actually pretty huge.
Neither Bill nor I were very hungry, thanks to a filling lunch at the airport. We just wanted to drink some beer and maybe have something a little light. Well, I’m here to tell you that finding something light isn’t so easy at this restaurant, but I did manage to go vegetarian.
Our waiter carries a Kranz full of beer.
The waiters will keep bringing you beer and mark how many you have on a coaster.
When you’ve had enough, do this.
Prost! It’s definitely not like a Weizen. Kölsch beer is different, because it’s warm fermented with ale yeast, then cold conditioned like a lager.
Bill used his beer to wash down beef goulash, which came with a little potato dumpling. He had this the first time we visited and wanted to try it again.
I was happy with my three fried potato fritters with black bread, butter, and apple sauce garnished with cranberry sauce. This was surprisingly hearty and filling. They also had meat versions of this dish with the potatoes, which sounded good, but I honestly wasn’t hungry enough for them. I had been eyeing a chicken salad, but noticed another woman got what I’d been looking at. It was HUGE! She actually cried out in surprise when she got it.
The waiters at this restaurant are very professional. The one who took care of us had a great sense of humor and looked dismayed when we stopped at ten beers (five a piece). Remember, they’re small glasses.
I meant to call attention to Cologne’s love locks. I’ve seen this “fad” all around Europe and it’s really popular on Cologne. You get a lock with your name and your lover’s name engraved on it, then lock it to the fence by the train station near the Rhein River.
The love locks were everywhere!
I’ve read they had to cut off the locks in Paris because they were so heavy they were ruining fences.
I’m sure this refers to a politician…
You can buy these locks at souvenir shops. There is one right across from the train station that sells and engraves them.
Aw… what a charming fad…
Lots and lots of people have hooked their love locks in Cologne. Bill and I didn’t.
We weren’t quite ready for bed when we finished wandering around the train station, so we decided to try the hotel’s piano bar. Every night, from 7:00 until midnight, a pianist plays in the hotel’s wood paneled bar. There, you can listen to music while you sip pricey cocktails, beer, wine, or something non-alcoholic. Bill loves to try new cocktails, especially since he usually has to drive when we go places.
I started with an expertly prepared Sazerac, served in a lead crystal glass…
Bill’s cocktail… I am hard pressed to remember what it was. I guess drinking cocktails will do that to a person.
The bartender was great. He made excellent recommendations in English and made some fantastic drinks for us.
The little baby grand…. Smallest one I’ve ever seen.
A fridge dedicated to Dom Perignon!
While we were sitting in the bar, another couple came in. The wife was American and her husband was Swedish. It turned out they had come to Cologne from Malmo, Sweden to see the Eagles, too. We ended up talking about other concerts we’ve seen. We have similar tastes in music. In July, we are going to see Mark Knopfler. She said they’d wanted to go to that show, but won’t be there. We ran into those people everywhere except at the concert hall.
Her husband didn’t say anything, while his wife did the talking. I got the sense that maybe she missed talking to fellow Americans or something. She was a bit forward, but friendly enough, I guess.
After a few drinks in the piano bar, we headed up to bed. It was expertly turned down and the air conditioning was cranked, even though it’s not been hot here. I am no longer used to air conditioning, so I was a bit chilly.
Each night, the turn down person leaves you a little card with a quote on it…