Austria, beer, road trips, wine

Chasing lakes and waterfalls in Aus-cro-slo-aus… part three

Wednesday morning, we awoke in lovely Wels, Austria, and headed down to the restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast is supposedly very highly rated at Hotel Ploberger. Many reviewers commented on how extensive the buffet is, and the varied and expensive items that can be found there. They did have breads, cheeses, cold cuts, vegetables, fruits, smoked salmon, cheeses, and even a machine that would squeeze marginally ripe oranges into juice. I will agree that the buffet was extensive, but it wasn’t particularly well-stocked when we visited. I got the sense that like all good food and beverage managers, the manager at the hotel instructed the employees to put out only a little bit, as I don’t think the hotel was particularly well populated during our visit.

I noticed that the buffet appeared to be a bit picked over both mornings of our stay. I understand that it was probably a cost or labor cutting method, but to be honest, it wasn’t a great look. The breakfast lady brought us coffee with a no nonsense attitude. It was strong and fresh, and that definitely perked up my ex Mormon husband.

It was pretty foggy and chilly the morning of our one full day in Wels. We decided to walk around the town and take more pictures. Here are some shots from our walk.

Right next to the church is Der Weinphilosoph, a bookstore owned by a genius… Or maybe not. I saw a similar concept in Rostock, Germany, where one can buy wine and books in the same place. I wouldn’t have minded going in there for a few minutes, if only to pick up a few new jigsaw for the probable tighter COVID-19 restrictions that will be in store as the weather gets colder and more folks stay inside with other people.

We continued walking until we reached an “Energy Park”, which offered lots of activities for children. Right next to the park was a kiosk and a WC, where one could get a coffee and take a piss. And there were vending machines dispensing smokes, playing cards, and other items for committing sins. 😉

Bill and I kept walking and noticing what was available in Wels. We could have visited the science museum. I probably would have enjoyed that. There was an art museum, and a spa, which I would have been all for attending. Bill is less enthusiastic about spas than I am.

For lunch, we decided to go to a well regarded Greek restaurant called Zum Kleinen Grieschen. It had been too long since our last Greek fix, and this turned out to be a good place to stop for lunch. We were the first ones there for lunch, and we were warmly welcomed. The food was excellent! I had my usual pork gyros with flatbread and t’zatziki. Bill had souvlaki. We both had large draft Gössers, a beer I used to drink in Armenia, when I had the drams to spare.

We took our time walking back from the Greek restaurant, as there’s a small park area nearby that has some interesting memorials to people who died in the Holocaust.

We decided to stop by Vom Fass, an awesome chain store that sells liqueurs, oils, vinegars, and other gourmet goodies. An English speaking associate quickly realized we were easy sells. By the time she was finished with us, we’d dropped some major euros on new items for the home bar. And by that time, of course, I figured it was time to redeem our free drinks at the wine bar… which we proceeded to do.

We weren’t hungry again after our huge Greek lunch. I wasn’t really wanting to hang out in the hotel room after dark. We thought maybe we’d go look for a place with small plates or something… but before we could venture out, I got a phone call from USAA. They wanted to talk to me about my complaint about their tendency to block my credit card at the drop of a hat. I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to them, and they had already called and missed me the night before. So I talked to the poor lady who had the misfortune of calling me.

In all seriousness, I wasn’t as pissed off on Wednesday as I had been the previous Saturday. Still, I was pretty stern as I let her know in no uncertain terms that the way they’ve changed their practices of fraud protection really suck. I don’t want to have to call the bank every time I use my money. And it IS my money, since they also block the debit card at the drop of a hat. SIGH…

After that conversation, we headed out… and ended up in a somewhat unauthentic Irish pub called Labi’s. It turned out to be an entertaining place, though, because a bunch of young Austrian guys came in and started playing darts. We sat in the dark for about an hour before they arrived, drinking Guinness, which turned out to be our dinner.

The proprietor who checked our vaccine certs seemed to be trying to cater to our musical tastes. At first, they were playing Eminem and similar stuff. Then, “You Make My Dreams”, a song by Hall & Oates, came on. I mentioned that I liked it, and it was popular in 1981. Next thing I knew, “The Best That You Can Do (Arthur’s Theme)” by Christopher Cross, also from 1981, came on. Then, the proprietor wisely switched to more Irish music by The Pogues.

We were thinking about leaving when the Austrian college lads came in and started playing darts. It was interesting to watch them and their friendly competition as they swilled Austrian beers. One of the guys was clearly an outside. He wore casual clothes, while the others had on business attire. I got the sense that the casual guy was someone’s little brother or maybe a guy they knew from the village. He was the worst dart thrower, too. The other guys were pretty players, and I alternated between feeling really old and wondering where the time went, to seriously enjoying their game.

I also noticed the urgent walk of a person about to either hurl or piss themselves, as two young ladies charged to the bathroom with the heavy gait of people who have had way too much to drink. Trust me, I know. 😉

When we settled up with the bartender, he asked us where we were from. I think he knew damned well we’re Americans. What he really wanted to know was what the hell we were doing in Wels! So I helpfully volunteered that we live in Germany. That seemed to satisfy his curiosity. With that, we headed back to the hotel to sleep before our big journey to Croatia on Thursday, the 28th.

Stay tuned for part four.

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Mainz, restaurant reviews

An afternoon at Sixties in Mainz…

We had amazing weather yesterday. It was so nice outside that I couldn’t bear to stay at home. I thought maybe we’d hunt for a festival or something, and we would have found one if we had gone to Frankfurt. There are several going on right now. But, for some reason, we decided to go to Mainz. Bill missed a turn to go to the downtown area, and we ended up in a part of town we hadn’t seen before.

As we were passing through, I noticed an interesting looking bar called Sixties. It advertised a lot of craft beers, which is kind of an unusual thing in Germany. So, although our plan had originally been to go downtown, we wound up parking and trying out Sixties, which also advertised music. When we walked into the bar, there was no music. Instead, all of the televisions were tuned to football– aka soccer– and the waitress warned us that pretty soon, a bunch of people would be crowded in there to watch the game.

I took a look around and noticed that the bar looked kind of “Irish pub-ish”, with low tables and stools, stained glass windows, and booths. We found a table with no reservation card on it and ordered a couple of beers. I had a Leffe Blonde and Bill had a Eulchen Marzen made in Mainz. Then we ordered snacks. Sixties has a rather limited menu. They have bar food, pizza, a couple of pasta dishes, and schnitzels, but it’s really more of a place to drink rather than eat. We had chicken strips, jalapeno poppers, and pretzels with Spundkaese.

One thing I noticed was that the waitress brought us wet glasses, complete with a little bit of water in the bottom. I can’t say I liked that very much, but at least the glasses were clean. We were impressed by how many beers they offered, too. They even had a beer from Sweden, as well as a number of British and Irish beers. I was surprised they didn’t have more Belgian choices other than Leffe, but a lot of German bars don’t even have that, so it was cool.

Here are a few photos from our visit:

After a couple of hours at Sixties, we paid the kindly, English speaking waitress, and headed down the street to our car. On the way there, we stopped in a fancy looking grocery store that appeared to have all natural “whole foods”. Of course, we were there to buy wine and look for Calvados, since the neighbor’s apple tree has been dumping apples in our yard and we need to do something with them. We didn’t find Calvados in that store, but we did pick up some wine.

We enjoyed Sixties. I don’t know how often we’ll visit there, since there are a lot of other places in Mainz we haven’t yet tried. It did look like a popular hangout for the locals. If you want to watch football and drink beers that aren’t German, it’s a good bet. I can’t comment on the music, but I did notice that there was a lot of memorabilia on the wall, particularly regarding the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. So it does look like they have good taste when it comes to music, anyway…

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restaurant reviews

A little Scotch N’ Soda… an Irish pub in Wiesbaden

We almost didn’t make it out yesterday. It rained until the afternoon and Bill spent most of the morning and early afternoon in search of Betadine for Arran’s paw. I had some when we lived in Stuttgart, but it somehow got displaced during the move. I’m sure I’ll find it when I don’t need it anymore.

Bill’s search sent him to several stores and a couple of pharmacies, where he finally scored a small bottle for about 16 euros. Some things in Germany are way more expensive than they are in the United States. I’m going to order some from Amazon to have on hand.

When the much needed rain finally let up, I told Bill that I really needed to get out of the house. It’s mostly been a depressing week without Zane around, and I was in need of some fun. A person in my Facebook wine group was in Wiesbaden yesterday, and she recommended a visit to Scotch N’ Soda, an Irish pub downtown. I also knew there was an international food festival going on. So, although it was early evening and rain was still threatening, we headed that way. I must add, Arran was a perfect gentleman while we were gone.

We started out with the festival. It turned out to be pretty small, although there were some interesting looking food booths there. But because it was getting late, and the weather wasn’t cooperative, it appeared that some of them were closing. I took a few pictures anyway. I seem to remember a larger incarnation of this festival in Esslingen and Stuttgart in years past.

We didn’t stick around the fest for long, though, since it appeared to be wrapping up. The church bells were going off extremely loudly, so I kind of wanted to get out of the area. They went on for several long minutes…

We took a stroll around the area, looking for dinner. I had Scotch N’ Soda in my head, but wasn’t averse to trying a different restaurant. I love a good Italian place, although I have had enough Italian food in Wiesbaden and really need to branch out. When we got to the Irish pub, it wasn’t hard to make the decision to go inside.

Scotch N’ Soda is located near a kind of “restaurant row”. There are a bunch of eateries there, including the excellent La Cantinetta, where we’ve dined a couple of times so far. La Cantinetta was very busy yesterday and I wasn’t in the mood to be upsold on expensive wines and appetizers. By contrast, Scotch N’ Soda is very much a low key place. It has a cozy round dining room, with lots of tables and chairs… almost too many for the room. One can also go upstairs, where I assume there’s more seating.

Scotch N’ Soda has a sports bar like atmosphere. You can sit outside, weather permitting, so sit inside and listen to British rock or watch European football. I commented to Bill that this place appears to be Wiesbaden’s version of “The Auld Rogue”, which only makes sense if you’ve also lived in Stuttgart.

The Auld Rogue in Vaihingen was a Greek restaurant called Taverna Faros when we first moved there in 2007. It later turned into a really shitty dance bar, then eventually became a very successful American hangout, where everyone speaks English. Bill and I visited The Auld Rogue many times during our most recent Stuttgart stint. I’ve blogged about it plenty of times.

Well… Scotch N’ Soda seems to be Wiesbaden’s version. Lots of Americans were there last night, and more than a few appeared to be affiliated with the U.S. military. However, I don’t think Scotch N’ Soda is quite as comfortable as The Auld Rogue is. It’s definitely not as large. I was impressed by their beer selection, though, which was better than The Auld Rogue’s. And their menu was also somewhat different, and somewhat less kid friendly.

I enjoyed the fish and chips. I couldn’t quite finish them, so the waitress kindly offered to box them up for me. Bill and I were admiring all of the whiskies on display. They had a nice variety of them from Ireland and Scotland. I counted how many whose distilleries I’ve now seen. Bill liked the cottage pie, which had some spice to it. I was kind of laughing to myself, though, because it was just such a “British” dish in the traditional sense. Britain is not exactly known for its food, although good food can definitely be had there if you know what to order. I happen to love British food, but that’s because it’s mainly comfort food. It’s not really “highbrow”. That cottage pie was decidedly not “highbrow”, but Bill liked it.

One guy at the bar did order a burger. I don’t know which one he had, but it had two very thick patties on it. I wondered if it was the “Fuck You” burger they had advertised in the menu. It looked pretty good, but again, I have been disappointed by burgers in Germany too many times to take a chance. Maybe next time, Bill will get one and I can determine if I’ll ever take the plunge. They did also have other sandwiches made with chicken or salmon, as well as soups, ribs, steaks, and even breakfast.

The bill came to about 37 euros. Bill rounded up to 40 and we made our way home. As he was paying for the parking, I couldn’t help but notice this manic looking ad for dental implants.

I’m not sure if I’d trust this guy with my teeth. He looks a little crazed. German ads crack me up.

It’s raining again today. We definitely need the rain. I’m kind of hoping we can go to Mainz, though, since today is the last day of the wine market. We’ll see what happens.

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Germany, wine

A gorgeous fall Saturday in Herrenberg!

We had absolutely beautiful weather today.  I told Bill I wanted to go out and do something.  We gave some thought to driving to Stuttgart, but I noticed the time.  It was about 1:00pm and I knew we wanted lunch.  Given that a lot of places stop serving lunch at 2:00pm, I suggested to Bill that we stop in Herrenberg.  We did… and we never made it out of Herrenberg today!  Read on to find out why…

We parked in a leafy parking area… 2 euros for 48 hours!

 

Both of our times in Germany, Bill and I have lived close to Herrenberg, a small city south of Stuttgart.  During our first time here, we lived near Tuebingen and spent more time there than in Herrenberg.  This time, we live near Nagold, and go there more often.  But Herrenberg has a whole lot going for it, as we found out today.  There are great restaurants and places to shop, as well as friendly people.

They were just finishing up the market when we arrived.  We decided to have lunch at Osteria da Gino’s.  We have also been to a restaurant with the same name in Nagold several times– this one in Herrenberg is different, but equally excellent.  Both times we’ve been in there, it’s been very well attended.

 

Today was actually the first time Bill and I have ever eaten at the Osteria da Gino’s in Herrenberg.  The first time we tried to, it was absolutely packed and we were turned away.  It was pretty busy today, too.  For that reason, it may be a good idea to make reservations if this review tempts you.

Obligatory shot of Bill.

 

The inside of Osteria da Gino’s in Herrenberg is very quaint and smells delicious!  They have an impressive array of wines available.  We ordered a small carafe of primitivo and our usual sparkling water.

Right now, Osteria da Gino is offering a number of dishes with black truffles from the Piedmont area of Italy, as well as fresh mussels.  I like mussels, but it’s one of those dishes I only want maybe once a year.  We had them a few weeks ago in Belgium.  I opted for duck breast in a raspberry balsamic sauce with noodles and fresh vegetables.  I was glad I asked our waiter, who spoke English, what kind of vegetables came with this dish.  It turned out they were serving it with mushrooms!  But they kindly left them off for me.

My duck breast was delicious!  I think that pasta was homemade, too.

Beautiful fresh vegetables, delicately seasoned and still bright with color…  I wouldn’t be surprised if they were very recently plucked from the garden.

Bill prepares to enjoy a very nice pasta dish with vegetables and black truffles.  Those truffles were very fragrant.

Lovely, quaint interior.  I noticed many people enjoying pizzas, which Gino in Nagold does not offer. The pizzas looked excellent.  Maybe next time we’ll try them.

 

Bill and both loved our meals at Osteria da Gino’s in Herrenberg.  No, it’s not like the one in Nagold, which is a favorite place of ours, but it’s probably just as good and offers different food.  We will definitely have to go back.  Today’s lunch came to 52 euros before the tip.

Excellent location right by the main square in Herrenberg.  You can’t miss it.

Cute little market on a corner.

 

After lunch, we decided we might try the little Irish pub in Herrenberg.  I had been curious about it for a long time.  But first, we stopped by a whisky store… and that turned out to be a VERY successful stop on many levels.  Alte Brennerei in Herrenberg sells wines, spirits, and a small selection of gourmet foods.  It reminds me a little bit of Vinum in Tuebingen, though it’s a bit smaller.   I had seen it a few times on recent trips to Herrenberg, but we never seemed to get there when it was open.  Today, we were in luck.

The doors were open wide!

Unfortunately, we were too late to visit the cheese shop across from it, which also sells wine.

The cheese shop closed at 2:00…  The Alte Brennerei is open until 4:00.

 

We walked in and immediately heard a very tall German looking woman speaking perfect American accented English.  Then she switched to equally perfect German.  She was with a man and a child.  The man was clearly NOT American, but also spoke excellent English, as did the store’s proprietor.  The English speaking German customers said the store had a great selection of scotch whiskys.  Bill and I concurred, having recently been on a whisky cruise.

I was impressed by the selection of wines, too.

It’s not a big shop, but there are lots of interesting wines available from all over…

After we chose a few bottles, we went back to the whisky area.  Bill chose one to take home and we talked more with the English speaking Germans.  It turns out they live very close to us, in the town of Jettingen.  I asked the lady if she was American or German, because her English was so perfect I honestly couldn’t tell.  It turned out she’s German, but was raised in the United States.  And she lives right across the street from Tommi’s Bistro, which is one of our favorite restaurants.  She gave me a card and told me to give her a call sometime.  She said she was happy to meet us because there aren’t a lot of Americans where we are.  And she has a cute little daughter who needs to practice speaking English!  I don’t mind, especially since she and her husband have good taste in booze!

After they left, we tried a Viognier and added it to our collection of bottles.  We chatted up the proprietor, who turned out to be an excellent business woman.  She really knew her whiskys and had also spent some time in Scotland.  She’d even visited a lot of the distilleries we’ve been to, including Kilchoman in Islay, which is a fairly new one.  She smiled when I told her the Scots are my people.

I mentioned to her that I have a wine group on Facebook and she said that they would be very happy to arrange a wine or whisky tasting for groups of ten or more.  Alte Brennerei also hosts a number of events.  I picked up a calendar and hope we can make it to a few of them.  I have a feeling we could learn a lot there!  And, just so you know, they accept credit cards.  We used our USAA card with no issues.

They even have Scottish cider.

 

After we dropped off our booze at the car, we headed for Shannon Irish Pub in Herrenberg.  And, let me just say, it’s no Auld Rogue.  We arrived right after it opened at 3:00.  Not many people were there and German and American pop music blared from the speakers.  The bartender was German and spoke no English.  And there was no Guinness to be found.  What they did have was Murphy’s Irish Stout, so that’s what we had.

A couple of shots of the bar area.

Peanut butter “Flips”… definitely a German snack.  Though I can’t complain because I like them.

Another part of the bar…

 

Service was friendly enough, and I noticed that the prices for the whiskys and whiskeys were reasonable.  It just didn’t seem much like an Irish pub as much as it was a German bar trying to be Irish.  It’s definitely not as charming or authentic as The Auld Rogue is.  And I was shocked that there was no Guinness!  That’s crazy!  But, as bars go, it wasn’t that bad…  Just don’t expect authenticity.

The backside of the bar.

 

All in all, we had a great day.  We were reminded that we need to visit Herrenberg more often.  We usually just go there to take the dogs to the vet or pass through to get to Stuttgart.  It’s a great town, though, with a lot to offer.  And Alte Brennerei is definitely a great find for those who like their booze.  Right next door to Alte Brennerei is the Gasthof Lamm, which is a great little restaurant where we had Thanksgiving last year.  Granted, it was German food, but it was cozy and cute and the food was good.

Herrenberg is a great little town.  It also seems to be the place to see and be seen.  Last time we were there, we ran into our neighbors from our first time in Germany (07-09) and they knew us right away.  This time, we ran into people who live in our town now!

Maybe tomorrow, we’ll make it to Stuttgart.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

Our first trip to Daily Burger…

About a month ago, Bill and I heard about how good the burgers are at Daily Burger, a small restaurant near the Schwaben Galerie in Vaihingen.  Since we definitely like our burgers, we decided we needed to try it.  Today was the big day.

Outside of the restaurant.  I often get a kick out of trying German versions of “American” food.

The weather was pretty miserable today.  It was cold and rainy.  Daily Burger opens at 3:00pm on Sundays.  I figured it wouldn’t be that busy because it was the middle of the day.  I was mistaken.  The dining room at Daily Burger is very small and no frills and every seat inside was taken.  They have a tent heated by propane heaters and the gentleman ahead of us requested to sit out there with his daughter.  Bill and I decided to join them, since there was nowhere else to sit.  But first, we had to make an order.

Daily Burger has a small menu.  You can get a beef burger, a chicken burger, or a veggie burger.  They also offer chicken wings.  You have a choice of three buns: sesame, hell, or koerner.  Bill tried the koerner bun, while I had the sesame bun.  There are several available free toppings which include tomatoes, raw onions,  roasted onions or pickles.  You can also pay extra for an egg, cheese, bacon, rucola, an extra patty, or jalapeno peppers.  Mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise are free, while barbecue sauce is extra.

Bill and I both got combos, which include pommes and a drink.  I had a Coke and Bill had a Mezzo Mix; they came in small bottles  The lady who helped us spoke perfect English and was efficient as she took our orders.  She handed us a beeper and we went outside to wait.

On a nicer day, it wouldn’t have been bad at all to sit in the tent.  The heater was somewhat effective in warming the space.  I could still see my breath, though, and my hands were freezing during the short wait for our order to be prepared.

Obligatory shot of Bill.

Nice tables outside.  I sat right under the heater.  Bill insisted.  On a nice day, this might even be preferable to the indoor seating, since it’s very no frills.  Today, it was very bitter cold.

My cheeseburger.  It had mustard, ketchup, pickles, and lettuce.  The patty was very thin and tasted like it might be beef and pork mixed.  It was piping hot when I got it and the bun tasted very fresh, like it had been made on the premises.  I really liked the bun.  The fries were also delicious, but there were a whole lot of them.  Bill and I each only managed half.  Next time, we’ll order one combo and a burger and share the fries.  I don’t mind having extras, though… they were really good.

Bill’s sandwich.  He had barbecue sauce, pickles, cheese, and lettuce.  His sandwich seemed bigger than mine.  Both had a lot of condiments on them, to the point at which they were pretty messy.  I could have used another napkin.

Total damage for this lunch was about eighteen euros.  We both liked the food well enough, though it was definitely not Five Guys.  Next time, I may try the chicken or the wings.  I think I might like that better than the burgers.

I was so chilled after eating outside that I decided we needed to visit The Auld Rogue for a pint and maybe a little nip of scotch.  After dropping off our leftover fries, we walked over there and came in just in time for some live music.  A group was playing Irish music.  The first thing I did when I got there, though, was to hit the ladies room because I didn’t see one at Daily Burger.  To be fair, I didn’t look for one in the crowded restaurant.  It was too awkward.

A young girl standing in the hallway was playing with a tablet and said something to me.  At first I didn’t hear her.  She repeated herself in German.  I didn’t understand and said so.  She asked me if I’d been crying!  No… I was just looking a little like a drowned rat with too much eyeliner and a strong urge to pee.

The view from our table.  Bill ordered us a round of Guinness…

Another obligatory shot of Bill right before he ordered me a large Ardbeg to help ward off the chill.

I had to have a shot of the Irish True flag.

 

The band was decent, though I think they could have used another singer.  One lady sang and wasn’t bad, but they seemed more into playing than singing.  I heard a few harmonies and one guy was a decent singer, but I couldn’t hear him as well over the jamming.  Never mind, though… it was entertaining.  I especially liked it when they sang “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life”.  I noticed a couple of Christy Moore songs, too.  Later, after the broke up, it became clear that they were Germans doing a pretty good job of playing Irish music.

We talked to the proprietor, Nick, about a trip to Ireland The Auld Rogue is planning for Memorial Day weekend.  That may be a trip I’ll have to do…  Nick said it would include some stops at distilleries and a craft beer festival…  A boozer like me is all over that.  We asked him to send us the info and we’ll see if we can make it happen.

I was surprisingly warm on the walk back to the car.  I suppose a couple of large drams of scotch will do that to a person.  We stopped at the commissary for a few necessary items, since Bill has to go away again soon.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

We tried to break the pattern…

by going to Taverna Olympos yesterday, but sadly the doors were shut tight at the time we wanted to visit.  It turns out Taverna Olympos is only open for dinner on weekends.  So Bill and I went to The Auld Rogue again for beer and lunch.  The place was busy yesterday, but I was glad to see the same friendly waitress who helped us the first time we visited a couple of months ago.  We sat at the bar and ordered our first round and some food.  I ordered spare ribs and Bill ordered the beef and Guinness stew, which was specially offered yesterday.  At first, the waitress said they were out of the stew, but then apparently they had some.  I was glad I didn’t order it because it had mushrooms in it… and, as you know, I think mushrooms are of the devil.

As we were waiting for our food, I couldn’t help but notice the creepy ghost thing on the ceiling.  I wasn’t sure if it was a leftover Halloween decoration or something significant to Ireland.  But then we spotted a fake bat over the bar and figured they must not have taken down all their spooky decorations after Halloween.

Bill’s stew.  He said it was the best he’d ever tasted.  

My ribs.  I took half of this home.

 

As we enjoyed lunch, we chatted with the waitress.  We were both sure she was from the Republic of Ireland, but she told us she’d grown up locally.  Bill figured she was the daughter of Irish expats, but that turned out to be untrue too.  This lady speaks English with a very convincing Irish accent, but is in fact, all German.  We were shocked, but maybe we shouldn’t have been.  After all, I know some Germans who sound totally American when they speak.  I asked her if she was a singer and she said she was.  I asked that because I am also a singer and when you are musical, a lot of times you have a knack for mimicry, languages, and accents.

It was really cool to chat with her, especially since she told us some entertaining stories about working abroad in Iceland.  Sometimes it pays to get to know your wait staff and bartenders, if only because they are often very interesting people.  She was also very witty, which is another reason why I thought perhaps she was Irish.  It’s not that Germans aren’t witty; I just find that they are often more serious than their Celtic friends.

We talked to the waitress about how The Auld Rogue used to be a Greek restaurant.  She said, “That must have been ages ago!  Because it was the CIA Bar before it was the Irish pub.”  Bill and I remember when the Greek restaurant became the CIA Bar.  It was a very sorrowful day for us, because I had dorade for the first time in that Greek restaurant.  They had really good food and the owner was excited because the dorade was the most expensive item on the menu.  He had the chef bring it out for me and everything.

I think the CIA Bar turned out to be rather “dodgy”, as the Brits would put it.  In fact, the waitress said it seemed to be mostly very young people coming in and “getting pissed”.  She said she expected the people to be wearing suits and carrying briefcases.  To me, that sounds more like the IRS stereotype than the CIA.

We also ran into a couple who run the Stuttgart Beer Club Facebook page.  They were there for lunch, too!  I suspect that if we go to The Auld Rogue enough times on Sunday, we will end up meeting a lot of local expat types.  I was also happy to identify a couple of the songs playing over the sound system on Shazam, though I overheard the bartender say that one of the songs I liked was “horrible music”.  I suspect it wasn’t rebellious enough for his taste.

Bill decided to have a second beer yesterday, so I had a scotch so he could catch up.  They happened to have some leftover Arran whisky from a recent tasting.  This particular whisky was aged in Amarone barrels.  It was very good.

 

If you like scotch and want to try something different, I recommend having a look at the bar and seeing if there’s anything up there that looks interesting and isn’t on the menu.  Bill and I like Arran whiskys, but they aren’t on the menu.  The Auld Rogue happened to have them available because of a tasting.  Incidentally, our cool waitress tried to get us to sign up for one of the upcoming beer or whisky tastings.  We do want to attend one, but want to make sure we make proper arrangements for our dogs.  I suspect we won’t be in the condition to drive back to Jettingen after one of those events.

All in all, we had a nice time at The Auld Rogue.  I suppose next Sunday, we’ll have to find something else to do since the pub will be closed next weekend.  I like that people who work at German restaurants can get days off at Christmas, too.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

Will the third time be the charm? The Auld Rogue again…

Bill and I went back to The Auld Rogue for the third time in as many weeks.  We went today because we wanted to try the spareribs, which I noticed they were offering again.  I had heard they were delicious.  Today, our friend the bartender was there, along with a tall, muscular, and very friendly Irish lad, who was quick to welcome us and offer drinks.

 

Bill and I both had Guinness today.  I love the creamy heads on them, though I didn’t get a clover today.

We both had spareribs…

 

Lemme just say, those ribs were awesome.  I believe they were beef ribs.  I was surprised, because I thought they’d be pork.  They were cooked to perfection and slathered with a delicious but very spicy sauce.  I joked to Bill that the spices no doubt get people to want to drink more.  The ribs at The Auld Rogue were the best ones I’ve had in a long while.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  I probably ought to take a pre-emptive antacid, though.

The portion size was about right, too.  It was a little more than I could eat, but not so much that I felt like I needed a to go box.  The only thing that would have made them better is if I’d gotten the sauce on the side.  Bill loved the sauce because he likes spicy food.  I am more of a wimp when it comes to hot stuff, though I did really enjoy the flavor.

I had to take a photo from a different vantage point… and I got a kick out of the “guest beers”.  They’re all German.

A perfect Guinness…

I think the bartender has us pegged.  He told Bill he couldn’t leave until he signed up for next weekend’s beer tasting.  We’d love to, but we’re going to the States and won’t be around next weekend.  All these trips to The Auld Rogue make me want to book a trip to Ireland.  I think we’ll be doing that sooner rather than later.

One of these days– very soon– we WILL get to the Greek restaurant a block down the street.  ETA: As of 2020, we still haven’t.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

Another visit to The Auld Rogue…

I seriously think The Auld Rogue could end up being a regular stop for us when we do our Sunday shopping.  It’s convenient to Patch and Panzer, has good service and food, and a great variety of beers.  We went there yesterday at around 2:30 or so because we were hungry.  Yesterday also happened to be our 12th wedding anniversary.

Bill and I enjoy a round.  I had a Murphy’s Red and he had his usual Guinness.  A couple had an adorable, sweet, and well-behaved golden retriever with them who came over to say hi.  I wish our dogs were calm enough to go to restaurants.

Bill had Shepherd’s Pie, which was very good, but huge.  I wouldn’t have liked it because it had mushrooms in it.  Bill did note that since it was served with fries, he got two servings of potatoes.  I guess to a guy with as much Irish blood as Bill has, that’s not a bad thing.

 

I had fish and chips.  I enjoyed the chips especially.  They were just about perfect.  Once again, I eschewed the spare ribs in favor of something else.  I’ll get to them eventually.  The fish was good, though the breading was less batter and more bread crumbs.  It was very enjoyable and the portion size of the fish was about right.  I still had plenty of fries and salad leftover.

And because it was our anniversary, I had a large pour of Oban 14 year old scotch…  It was quite nice.  8 euros for .4cl and worth every euro cent.  Smaller pours go for 4 euros.

As we were having lunch, I got caught up in watching a rugby game on one of the large TVs.  I don’t usually enjoy watching sports, but I think I could get into rugby.  Ireland and Georgia were playing, which made it especially interesting for me.  Since I once lived in Armenia, I used to live near the Republic of Georgia.

I think the bartender recognized us.  He may have spotted us as new regulars.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

A review of The Auld Rogue Irish Pub in Vaihingen, Stuttgart, Germany…

Bill and I went shopping today, which we often do on Sundays.  We decided to have some lunch and ended up in Vaihingen.  We stopped at The Auld Rogue Irish pub .  Our visit was a little bittersweet for us, since when we lived in a Vaihingen area hotel in 2007, we used to eat at that restaurant… only then, it was called Taverna Faros and served excellent Greek food.  One day in 2008, we came back there to find that the place had changed hands (at that point, it was a disco– obviously that venture didn’t last, either).  Rumor had it that the Greek guy who owned it hadn’t paid his taxes and had to close.

Anyway, now it’s an Irish pub and though we did have some great Greek food there back in the day, we were equally pleased by the Irish cuisine.  A sign outside offered spare ribs with BBQ sauce.  I think I should have ordered that instead of the bacon cheeseburgers Bill and I both had.  It’s not that the sandwiches weren’t good; it’s just that I would have liked to have tried something other than what Bill was eating.  But I was craving a cheeseburger, so I gave in…

Bill enjoys a fabulous Guinness draft, served by a very cheerful Irish lass with a delightful lilting accent.

Cheeseburger with Irish bacon…  The chips were delicious!  We enjoyed ours with malt vinegar.

 

I thought the cheeseburger was pretty good, though I have had better.  For a restaurant in Germany, though, they did a good job.  The fries were to die for.  I noticed they had a number of different burgers and wraps as well as an Irish breakfast and fish and chips.  When we visit again, I will have to have the fish and chips.

Bill passed on a second beer, but our waitress could tell I wanted one…  Must have been the glint in my eye and the fact that I have lots of Scots-Irish blood…  Love the clover!

 

I could tell the place is popular with Americans.  In fact, I never heard the waitress or bartender speak German.  When we came in, we were greeted in English.  The service is fast and friendly and the waitress keeps track of your bill by writing on your coaster.  Though we didn’t have dessert, one guy sitting near us did and it looked really yummy.

The bar offers whiskey/whisky tastings, quiz nights, live entertainment, and football games on TV.  The whiskey tastings looked especially interesting and were priced surprisingly well.  The next one is December 13th.  I noticed a sign urging patrons to book early.  I liked the Irish music that was playing, too.

Outside…

The Auld Rogue is on the main drag going through Vaihingen and it would be tough to miss it.  We parked at the Schwaben Galerie, but there’s also some street parking.  If you’re in the mood for a little Irish style food and drink, I’d encourage you to drop by for a pint or two.  The bar is Irish owned and run and seems very authentic.  We found it a refreshing change of pace.

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Europe

Irish pubs are apparently a "thing" in France…

So, we’ve been back from Europe for about ten days now and I’ve been reflecting on the trip.  One thing I noticed when we were in France is that Irish pubs are apparently a “thing” there.  In Lyon alone, Bill and I actually visited three Irish pubs.  There were quite a few more that we didn’t visit.

Since Bill and I had been hoping to go to Ireland on this last trip, we found it kind of funny that there were so many Irish pubs in France.  I mentioned it to my American friend, Audra, who lives in France.  She said, “Not a one of them is very authentically Irish, are they?”

Some places seemed more authentic than others did.  In one bar, they had a good drink list that included several Irish suds and whiskeys.  But none of the Irish pubs we visited had Irish music or anyone from the Republic working there.  In fact, most of the Irish pubs we visited in France were decidedly French in terms of their menus and atmosphere.

This all made Bill and me decide that we need a trip to Ireland next.  Unfortunately, there’s no telling when that can occur.  We need to find employment and a place to settle first… then we need to do some fundraising.  I trust we’ll get to Ireland someday, though.  It will happen.  And when it does, I hope to find some real Irish pubs.

This one in Alexandria, VA comes pretty close…  Bill and I used to go there when we lived near DC.  They had quite a few Irish people working there.

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