Swabian delights at Zum Reussenstein in Böblingen

I promised some friends on Facebook that this week there would be a deluge of restaurant reviews.  Last night, Bill and I went to the second of three restaurants we have booked this week.  When I booked the family owned Zum Reussenstein restaurant and hotel in Böblingen, I had no idea that the place had any notoriety.  I just noticed that reservations on OpenTable.de were kind of hard to come by.   I had to book our Thursday night table several days in advance.  Weekend reservations demanded even more notice.  I figured that must mean the food is very good.  What I didn’t know is that Zum Reussenstein is owned by TV chef Timo Böckle, which may be one major reason why reservations are a must.

I used to work at The Trellis, a restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia that, for years, was owned by TV chef and cookbook author Marcel Desaulniers.  The Trellis has since been sold and Marcel now owns Mad About Chocolate, a cafe in Williamsburg where he sells light lunches and desserts. When I waited tables at Marcel’s restaurant, I frequently ran into people who had traveled from far flung places simply to have lunch or dinner at The Trellis.  A lot of people bought cookbooks, which we kept stocked in the restaurant and all of which were autographed.

I don’t know how famous  Timo Böckle is, but I did notice a number of what looked like gourmet items for sale.  Indeed, I see on his restaurant’s very musical Web site, I see there is a gourmet shop there that appears to be open during lunch and dinner hours.

As we were getting ready to leave for our 8:00pm reservation, I got the news that world famous recording artist Prince died.  Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I shared a love for Prince’s music with many others in my age group.  As we headed toward Böblingen, I started thinking about how whenever I’m in Europe, it seems like someone legendary dies.  I was on a train between Vienna and Venice when Princess Diana died.  I lived in Germany when Michael Jackson died.  And now we’ve lost Prince, along with a number of other amazing celebrities.  2016 is turning out to be a terrible year to be famous and a Baby Boomer.

Bill enjoys a moment before looking at the menu.  Through the curtain dividing the room, I spotted a TV monitor on the wall that showed a fireplace with a perpetually flickering flame.  I’m not sure what the point of those things are, but I guess some people think they make a dining room seem “homey”.

We arrived at the restaurant a few minutes before our reservation.  It took a little time to find street parking and we ended up having to walk about ten minutes.  That would have been fine, except I was wearing heels, which I rarely wear unless I’m dressed up.  Although I probably didn’t need to get too spiffy for Zum Reussenstein, I like to look nice when we’re eating at a nice place.  Zum Reussenstein has sort of a homey feel to it and it’s not as fancy or expensive as Gasthof Krone is.  However, I did notice that there were quite a few locals there who seemed to be celebrating.  I was glad I wore a skirt and Bill wore his trusty sport jacket from Saks.

These little cards say “We’re glad you’re here.” in German and English.

The restaurant was almost full last night and the ambience was definitely energetic.  Our waiter offered us menus that highlighted very traditional Swabian delights.  There was also a monthly special and a evening special.  At first, I was a little confused by what we had to choose from; I think the presence of the monthly special menu, the evening special, and the regular menu overwhelmed me.  Fortunately, our waiter spoke pretty good English.

Bill ordered us a nice local red.  This particular wine was very inky and tannic, with flavors of dark berries.  I liked it.  I must admit, during this tour in Germany, we’re learning that not all German wines are sweet.  We’re becoming fans of local vino.

I was torn between several appealing choices.  Zum Reussenstein offers a schnitzel that they prepare with apple.  They also had a chicken dish that looked good, as well as several very hearty sounding entrees that included venison and wild boar (Bill usually goes for those).  In the end, I went with a bowl of Flädlessubb, which is strips of crepes seasoned with herbs and served with a clear beef broth.  Then I had last night’s special, which was ham, white asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce, and boiled new potatoes.  Bill ordered a colorful house salad, pork cheeks that were slow cooked in mustard sauce, and spaetzle.

This was the amuse.  It was a piping hot shot of soup.  I’m not sure what it was called because the waiter never told us.  However, it tasted like it had a chicken stock base infused with peppers.  Unfortunately, I burned my tongue… but it was still really good.  I would order that soup if it was offered on a menu. 

This was my “pancake” soup– the local speciality Flädlessubb– which was comforting and not too filling.  The last time I had this was in August 2014, right around the time we first moved back to Germany.  I remarked to Bill that it would be a great soup for unclogging a stuffy head.

Bill’s very fresh salad was made with field greens and topped with sunflower seeds.  He really seemed to enjoy it.

My colorful ham and asparagus dish…

With a side of parsleyed potatoes…

Bill’s pork cheeks…

And a big dish of spaetzle…

I opted for the ham and asparagus because this is the time of year to eat such a dish.  Asparagus is in season right now and while we didn’t eat a whole lot of ham the first time we lived here, we have come to realize that spring is the time to pair ham with asparagus and Hollandaise sauce.  The version I had last night was perfectly prepared, though it was a lot of food.  The ham wasn’t too much, but I couldn’t finish the asparagus or potatoes.  I definitely did not go hungry last night!

Bill really enjoyed the tender and tasty pork cheeks.  He said the spaetzle was very fresh and appealing as well.  But, like me, he had to cry uncle at some point.  We knew we wanted dessert.

Bill had vanilla ice cream with apple balsam syrup…

I had sinful chocolate mousse made with chocolate from Rittersport.  

I think dessert was my favorite part of last night’s meal.  The chocolate mousse was fantastic and really satisfying.  I thought I was full, but I managed to enjoy the whole thing with no problem.  Bill also loved his dessert.  The ice cream was regular vanilla, but it was very good quality and the apple balsam syrup was a nice touch.

Vegans and vegetarians may have a somewhat tough time at Zum Reussenstein, though I did notice that there were a couple of vegetarian options and several dishes that could be made vegetarian on request.  They were marked in the menu.  ETA: A vegetarian who read this review says that if you tell the staff you are a vegetarian, they will bring a special vegetarian menu.  In the menu there was also a note explaining that smaller portions are available on request.  I thought that was a nice touch.  I did not see any children dining last night, but I imagine they are catered to.  The restaurant is nice, but definitely has a family friendly vibe.

I also noticed that the ladies room was thoughtfully appointed with hairspray, high quality hand soap, and tastefully presented feminine supplies.

Our bill came to about 80 euros before the tip.  It was presented to us, along with a couple of bon bons, in a wooden box that resembled a small treasure chest.

Overall, Bill and I liked Zum Reussenstein.  Bill told me that it’s a favorite of one of his U.S. based bosses and he likes to eat there whenever he’s in town.  I can see why people like this local gem.  If you’re into traditional Swabian food, it’s definitely a good choice.  I don’t mind Swabian food, though if I’m honest, it’s not my favorite cuisine.  I do think Zum Reussenstein is a great place to go if you have guests who want to try something authentic to Baden-Württemberg.  Reservations are a must, though, and you may want to plan for the parking situation.  On a busy night, you may have to walk a ways, although the restaurant is very close to the Böblingen S-Bahn station.

Now that I know the restaurant is owned by a TV chef, I kind of wish I had access to German TV…


Valentine’s dinner at Im Gärtle in Entringen…

Ever since we moved back to the Stuttgart area in 2014 after a five year absence, I have often remarked to Bill that it feels like we never left.  And yet, this time around, we are doing a lot more things locally than we did the first time we lived here.  During our first tour, we lived in a little town called Pfäffingen, which is about 10 kilometers from Herrenberg and maybe 7 from Tübingen.  Because we were living between two decent sized towns, we spent a lot of our time in those two towns.

This time, we live in Jettingen, which is also about 10 kilometers from Herrenberg in a different direction.  We spend time in different places now, but still like to go to our old stomping grounds.  Entringen is a little hamlet in Ammerbuch, maybe two or three kilometers from Pfäffingen.  We had to drive through it any time we went to one of the four American military installations near Stuttgart. Now, we go to Entringen by choice when we want to see our old friend we nicknamed “The Mad Scientist” or are headed to Tübingen.  We don’t even have to go that way if we don’t want to.  We can access that area via a different route that doesn’t take us through Herrenberg.

Somehow, the first time we lived here, I never heard of Im Gärtle.  It’s in Entringen, kind of on the outskirts in an area of the town we had never before explored.  While Bill was in Africa last week, I was tasked with finding us a nice place for dinner on Valentine’s Day.  When I noticed Im Gärtle on OpenTable, I was intrigued.  At first, I thought it was in Tübingen.  When I saw that it was actually in Entringen, I was very curious.  Then I saw that it got really good reviews on OpenTable and Trip Advisor.  I also noticed that all the reviews were in German.

I am a firm believer that locals are the best judges of local cuisine.  Most everyone had good things to say about Im Gärtle.  Both the food and the ambiance got good marks.  So I decided to make the reservation for 7:00 tonight.  We arrived right on time.

A photo of the sign.  It was dark out… 


To get to the restaurant, you drive down B28 to the little town of Entringen, then turn onto a narrow residential street.  Hang a couple of more turns on equally narrow residential streets and head up a hillside.  The restaurant is at the top and offers a nice view… or, at least I think it would be very nice during the daytime.  I can see by the photos taken during the spring and summer that those are the best times to visit.  Then you can sit in the garden.  Parking for the restaurant is free and fairly plentiful.

The lady who greeted us didn’t speak any English at all.  That was okay.  One of the waiters did, though he wasn’t obvious about it.  Bill and I probably got more practice speaking German tonight than we have in a long time.  The dining room was full and we were, of course, the only Americans there.

Obligatory shot of Bill.  Right after I shot this, he ordered a Bordeaux and some sparkling water.

They brought out some delightful fresh bread, which was served with excellent butter.  There were two slices each. 

Next came an amuse.  Sweet slivers of peppers, zucchini, and eggplant drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar…  They were a nice way to start the meal.  

We each got green salads.  My dish did not come with a salad, so this is a photo of an a la carte salad. Bill’s dish came with salad and his was smaller than mine was, but just as good.  Underneath the towering greens and endive was a small pile of potato salad and a mound of carrots.  The salads were topped with peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds.  This salad was too much for me to eat in one sitting, but it was delicious.  The dressing was like a smokey mustard vinaigrette.  I stopped after eating maybe half.  I knew the rest of dinner would be huge.

I had a porkloin with a side of colorful vegetables and spatzle.  I’m pretty sure the gravy was made with mushrooms (it had an earthy flavor), but I was able to avoid it easily enough.  The top of my pork is a garlic crust.

Family sized spatzle.  We took most of this home with us.

Bill had vension with spatzle, sauteed mushrooms, a roasted pear with cranberry sauce, and potato croquettes.  There was also a side of cream and venison meant to drench over the meal.  Most of that venison and cream came home with us.  Bill loved this dish… but he loves game anyway. 

For dessert, I had hot love…  that is, vanilla ice cream with hot raspberries, whipped cream, and a white chocolate/chocolate garnish.  The raspberries weren’t actually that hot, but that was okay.  They tasted very fresh.  This restaurant prides itself on farm to table dining and that was evident with every dish, including dessert.

Bill had a Grand Marnier parfait.  It came with plums on the side.  The parfait was a little melted.  Bill enjoyed it anyway.

And we had espresso… and that came with cookies and sweets.

Service was leisurely, friendly, and very professional.  I could tell there were a lot of return visitors.  One couple had brought their well behaved dog with them, while another had a little boy who was honored with the task of bringing out the check.  This is definitely a family run establishment; everyone working there seemed invested in its success.  The two wait staff members were very nice and welcoming and the food was excellent.  And, at 119 euros, it didn’t break the bank.  We were also allowed to pay with a credit card.

Another shot of the sign.

Not such a good shot of the beautiful wrought iron gate and steps leading to the restaurant.  Be advised if it’s icy, you have mobility problems, or are walking in heels for the first time in awhile, like I was.  

Im Gärtle is a very charming restaurant.  The interior is a little 60s, with sort of a Brady Bunch vibe.  The music on the sound system was also straight from the 60s and 70s.  We heard “The Entertainer” and “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich on the sound system, at least until most everyone had left.  Then they turned off the music in the dining room and played some alternative tunes in the kitchen.  Bill got a kick out of that.

On the walls, there are many works of art.  Indeed, the restaurant even has an art museum, which is open for limited hours on the weekends.  Edited to add, my German friend Susanne says that 85 year old Manfred Lutz founded the restaurant over fifty years ago.  The artwork in the restaurant and museum was all done by him.  His grandsons are now in charge of the restaurant.  I think I saw Manfred Lutz at the restaurant last night.

I recommend making reservations.  It’s very easy to do that using Open Table.

Tonight was our first visit to this restaurant, but I doubt it’ll be our last.  We really had a good time and I want to see what it looks like when the weather is nice and the view is easier to see.  Highly recommended!


Dinner at Hotel Adler in Nagold…

Although the terrorist events in Paris that happened last night kind of put a damper on our spirits today, Bill and I decided we wanted to go out to dinner.  Originally, we hoped to try a nice restaurant in Wildberg that gets great reviews and has a Michelin Star.  But they were fully booked tonight.  So then we went to Nagold and tried to walk in to Il Due, an Italian place we keep meaning to try.  But they, too, were entirely booked.  So we went to Hotel Adler, where we had dined once at lunchtime back in July.

I was eager to try Hotel Adler again, because they offer good German/Swabish food and they have a really lovely dining room.  Since it’s November, we knew it wouldn’t be hot and nasty in their restaurant like it was when we were there in July.  Of course, the intense July heat wasn’t their fault, but I’d be lying if I said I fully enjoyed our first experience there.  I have memories of sweating a lot.

They also looked pretty full tonight, but we were in luck because they had a two top table available for us.  It was in their breakfast area.  I noticed that aside from the full main dining room, the breakfast area also had a bunch of tables with reserved signs on them.

I catch Bill smiling after a kind waitress lit our candle.  This was right before a whole bunch of people showed up for dinner.  There was only one other party in the dining room when I took this picture.  Minutes later, the place filled up.


Since I had fish the last time we visited, I decided to try the Hotel Adler’s Argentinian rumpsteak.  Bill had a wild game plate.  I think he said it was venison he was enjoying, but he didn’t seem entirely sure. We also ordered wine and water, as usual.  Tonight’s wine was a nice Bordeaux that went well with our meat dishes.

Bill started with a salad.  My dish did not come with a salad, but that was okay… I’m not that into salads, anyway.

Bill’s wild game.  He said this was a bit dry, though it came with a gravy that seemed to help.  There was also a dish of cranberry sauce that I think was supposed to go with my steak, but he used it on his meat, too.  


And, of course he had spatzle, too…


I really enjoyed this steak.  I ordered it medium, but it was really more medium rare.  It came with a side of house made croquettes… basically, deep fried mashed potatoes.  Yum! I liked the gravy that came with the meat; it complimented it well.  Also, I noticed this steak was good quality and didn’t have the weird aftertaste I notice sometimes with German beef.  Seeing as though this was supposed  to be Argentinian, I kind of expected that it wouldn’t taste German.


The wait staff were all pretty women dressed in dirndls.  They were very professional, even when one of them dropped a plate that made a big crash.  No one was stressed or rushed, though service was probably slower than what many Americans might expect.  I have come to appreciate the way dining is in Europe, though.  I didn’t mind waiting and digesting while chatting with Bill.

We were tempted by dessert.  Bill had vanilla ice cream with hot raspberry sauce.

I had chocolate mousse… white chocolate and milk, with a scoop of ice cream and a cookie.


Our check came to 78 euros.  I thought it was worth the cost.  I like Hotel Adler, especially when the weather is cooler.  It’s a nice place to have a traditional meal.  Their main dining room is classy, with its traditional wood paneling.  Since our 13th wedding anniversary is Monday, we will probably try to go to a special restaurant.  I am not sure where that will be yet…

This cake is an example of why Bill and I have been married so happily for so long…  He went to the Real today and they had Black Forest cake.  They almost never do.  He knows I like it, so he bought a couple of pieces.  This was also really nice.  Not too sweet or heavy and a lovely surprise…  I probably shouldn’t have had dessert at Hotel Adler since I ate this earlier today.  But, what the hell…  


On a personal note, it does my heart good to see so many good restaurants in Nagold… and see them full of people enjoying their evening instead of being cowed by terrorism.  I’m going to make a point of continuing to go out and enjoying myself… and living my life as well as I can.  I hope others will, too.



A review of Brauhaus Calwer-Eck in Stuttgart, Germany

Bill and I don’t go to Stuttgart very often.  We don’t live that close to it and we’re not all that into big cities.  Stuttgart can also be hectic because there’s a lot of traffic and not so much parking, as we found out a couple of weeks ago when we went to the dentist to get our teeth cleaned.  Since I had to go back to the dentist’s office to talk to him about some major work I need done, we went to Stuttgart last night.  We took the S1 from Herrenberg to Stadmitte, since the dentist’s office is located very close to there.

The sign outdoors.

I had mentioned to Bill that since we were taking the train, it would be a good opportunity to go out to dinner in Stuttgart.  He agreed and found the Brauhaus Calwer-Eck located very close to the dentist’s office.  This eatery specializes in Swabian food and brews its own bottom-fermented, cellar fresh, unfiltered beers.  I had a feeling that after talking to the dentist, I’d probably be wanting a drink or two, so I was definitely all for trying out this place.   Oh, who am I kidding?  I don’t need a dentist’s appointment to make me want to drink beer!  But it does help ease the pain after hearing how much a dental implant is going to cost…


They have specials…


Cool steps leading up to the restaurant.


We arrived at Brauhaus Calwer-Eck at about 6:00pm.  The place was already pretty busy, though there were a few open tables.  A friendly waiter who spoke excellent English directed us to a large book that had a “reserviert” sign on it.  I guess he correctly assumed we wouldn’t be staying all night. He gave us menus in English and I spotted quite a few dishes that looked appealing.  First, I wanted to try one of the beers, since a brochure on our table mentioned that Brauhaus Calwer-Eck’s beers are “different” than most beers found in Stuttgart.  Though they are subject to the German Purity Law of 1516, the beers sold at this restaurant are neither stabilized nor pasteurized.  They are advertised as very fresh and unfiltered, containing yeast, protein, enzymes, vitamins, and natural flavors.

I started off with a hefeweizen, the only beer that came in a .5 glass.  Bill wanted a seasonal beer, but they were out.  He settled for a Brewer’s beer instead.  His beer, like most of the beers at this brauhaus came in a .3 glass.  .2 sizes are also available for a couple of the beers.

Informative menu written in English…


I decided to have “crispy pork” with a potato dumpling and gravy made with beer.  It actually turned out to be a big pork knuckle.  This was more than I could eat, but it tasted pretty good.  I especially enjoyed the beer gravy.    

Bill had beef goulash which was rich, flavorful, and hearty… and again, more than he could eat.


I enjoyed the atmosphere at Brauhaus Calwer-Eck.  It was obviously a very popular place with the locals and the interior was kind of cool looking with lots of booths, tables with stools, and a lively bar scene.  I liked the dark lighting in the restaurant and the pretty stained glass detailing on the windows.  It has an energetic vibe and would be a fun place to gather with friends.  If I had any friends, I’d probably be heading there often!

Our final bill was 43 euros.  That’s for two mid-range priced meals and four beers.  I did see rib eye steaks going for about 29 euros.  I think that was the most expensive thing on the menu, but I don’t know that for sure.

We had another round.  Bill tried the schwarzebier and I had the Brewer’s beer.  Bill’s dark beer was interesting.  It had hints of a vanilla in it that I haven’t encountered often in German beers.  The Brewer’s beer was relatively complex and refreshing.  

Our waiter was friendly, charming, and efficient.  Having done his job in the United States, I was impressed by his ability to keep everything going without losing his cool.  I kind of liked the fact that the beers were sold in smaller portions.  That way, you can try more of them without getting too drunk or overloading your bladder for the long train ride home.  We have to go to Herrenberg and that’s about 40 minutes on a train with no toilets.

Bill and I both enjoyed our meals last night, though next time I would probably order something different.  I saw some very interesting looking sausage dishes offered as well as a turkey dish with roasted potatoes that looked enticing.  There are a few dishes for vegetarians, too.

Aside from beer, the Brauhaus Calwer-Eck also offers a full range of other beverages.  They also have two kinds of beer liquor (white & spicy or brown & mild).  You can purchase their beers to take home and even enjoy a brewery tour if you have a group of up to 15 people.  They offer two types of brewery tours.  You must make an appointment in advance for your group.  The people who run this place are very business oriented and quite friendly to English speakers, so it’s also a good place to host private parties or have catering done.

Brauhaus Calwer-Eck has a sister location as well.

I took this photo on the way home because I got a kick out of the way illustrations are used to inform people about how they should behave on the train.  I especially like the ones about not being drunk or playing music for tips.

I have a feeling Bill and I will be back to Brauhaus Calwer-Eck, if only because it looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time at the dentist’s office in the coming year.  Of course, that’s if we’re still here in the coming year, which I expect and hope we will be.  Prost!