It’s the insides that count.

dsc07243-01-01.jpegIt was my first time ever to London town visiting some old and very good friends, who I had not seen for a couple of years. Besides this long overdue reunion, I was also super excited to explore the city and its culinary secrets and one of our first ventures followed another friend’s recommendation to St. JOHN Restaurant close to Smithfield market.

Coming through the bar with enclosed bakery, the interior of the dining room reminded me of that of a slaughterhouse with white tiles covering the walls of the room all put into dim light and set with long tables covered with white paper cloths. Our host for the night was extremely accommodating, funny and knowledgeable on today’s dishes and made sure we were having a great night.

So off we started with a nice bottle of red and too many starters for the three of us. My friend who recommended St. JOHN made sure I understand the importance of having the Welsh Rarebit, a delightful version of a grilled cheese sandwich created with their own signature spread mixture  – which they also sell in jars nowadays – drizzled sweetish with some Worcestershire sauce. Simple and absolutely brilliant. This was followed by the equally mind-blowing roast bone marrow with parsley salad and roasted bread, savory fatty sardines, and the browned crab open sandwich to lift our cholesterol levels to heaven.

Okay, my evening was already a win because of the starters but my excitement didn’t seem to quiet down one bit. For those of you, who don’t know, St. JOHN specializes into ‘nose to tail’ dining so, besides the fish, there were no meats on the menu tonight, it was all ovals and innards. M., therefore, chose the flatfish, which was kept light and natural in flavor but was clearly fresh and skillfully prepared. E. and I, on the other hand, went all in for fantastic tender ox heart with beets and creamy horseradish and my first go at lamb sweetbreads with beans and bacon. The latter had a distinct and particular taste and texture, which I had never experienced before, quite lamby but in a good way and in combination with the beans and bacon just outstanding. My favorite must have been the ox heart though as its pure muscle texture and deep flavors were just hard to beat.

Over the recent years, I have developed a strong preference for ‘nose to tail’ dining due to the endless possibilities, the broad palette of available flavors and the high skill level and creativity that is required to turn ovals into something new and delicious. Also because of that ST. JOHN has catapulted itself into my special book of favorite places and will be a must go to for every of my potential future visits to London. Thanks for a fabulous night, an outrageously good dining experience and the smile I left with that very night. Be sure I’ll be coming back. Cheers.

Get Your Grub On!

St. JOHN Restaurant
26 St. John Street
London
EC1M 4AY
United Kingdom
p: +44 20 7251 0848
https://www.stjohngroup.uk.com/

Premium inside?

IMG-20170705-WA0006-01One of my food loving co-workers recommended to check-out this place in Haslach. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant at first as using the word ‘premium’ in your shop’s name often implies quite the opposite, but a good recommendation outweighs such reservations any day so we had a plan. It was a bit tricky to find, sitting on the second floor of a car rental and dealership.

This place has a nice bright interior with a big bar functioning as the centerpiece of the inside restaurant and the breezy terrace offers the best seats for a summer dinner.

When I come to an Italian restaurant like this for my first visit and feel like pizza, most times I do get a Margherita for two main reasons; for one it’s my favorite pizza of all times and second, it’s actually quite hard to make a really exciting one and it can reveal the true skills of a pizza chef. This Margherita (EUR7.00) was truly one of the better ones I have had here in Freiburg. Even though I’d prefer mine with leopard-crust, fruity with mozzarella islands and almost soggy in the middle this one’s paper thin and crisp dough and the focus on simple flavors did the job just fine and will find many fans under the crisp-crust-lovers-community. One more thing to add here was that they served some fabulous and pungent Italian chili in oil to pimp my pizza and I almost finished that little jar of fierce goodness myself.IMG-20170705-WA0001-01 We also had their homemade salmon and ricotta ravioli and these were just delicious; an intensely flavorful salmon filling wrapped in thick and chewy pasta dough, covered with a sticky tomato gravy that accompanied but didn’t overpower the aromas of the filling. Nice one.

I liked this place. Except for the uninspiring mixed salad (EUR5.00) at the start, which I would give a miss next time the food was tasty and satisfying, service was friendly and the ambiance on the terrace great for a chill after-work dinner if don’t mind a commercial surrounding. Grazie mille.

Get Your Grub On!

Premium Restaurant Pizzeria Pinocchio
St-Georgener-Straße 10
79111 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 445617
https://www.premium-pinocchio.de

Sabai Sabai in Herdern!

IMG_20170712_182937-2We had kind of an Asian food streak this week so it just made sense to throw in a little Thai spree as well.  Luckily we made it here early as this outlet is always (always) booked out and so today they still had some terrace seats left for us walk-ins.

 

We began with a refreshing yet tooth-dissolvingly-sweet Thai ice tea and quickly moved onto the appetizer section. We didn’t go for that kohlrabi Som Tam this time again but instead tried out the crunchy vegetarian summer rolls (Po Pia Sod | EUR4.90) with sweet hoisin sauce and a tard peanut chili dip. Furthermore, the chicken satay (Sate Gai | EUR5.90) wasn’t too shabby either, lean chicken breast nicely spiced and fried with a Thai curry peanut dip and genius pickled spicy cucumber, chili, and onion.

 

 

My main was, what a friend so fittingly calls ‘Ente Kross’, which pretty much translates to ‘roasted duck’. The dish (Ped Pad Gaprau | EUR15.90) was quite different from the picture of my imagination since I had ordered a version with Thai basil and chili and expected something more similar to ‘Phat Kaphrao’. Despite the different look, this was a fine dish with a strong fragrance coming from the basil and enough chili to press a few sweat drops from my forehead. M. had Gung Schuschi (EUR15.90), prawns in a red coconut curry served in a whole coconut loaded with vegetables. The prawns were nicely cleaned and fresh and it all had a mild but quite present heat to it. Both went perfectly well with the fragrant rice and brought back some delicious memories.

Although Thai is not necessarily my most missed Asian cuisine, I’m glad to have a place around with people that know what they’re doing and who are dishing up pretty tasty and authentic stuff with a smile on their faces and a kind word for every guest coming in. Oh, and by the way, they have a second branch out in Malteringen. Khob-khun-krab.

Get Your Grub On!

Chada Thai (Freiburg Branch)
Richard-Wagner-Str. 24
79104 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 8815 7905
http://www.chadathai.de/

New lunch opportunities.

IMG_20170714_123701-01

It all started with a quick talk between doors when my colleague suggested to go and check out Bengal for lunch someday, and then only a few days later I found myself sitting on their little backyard terrace with a whole bunch of my coworkers ordering from their lunch menu specials.

I went for the Rost Polaw, which is a chicken dish, simmered in a light tomato yogurt gravy with potatoes and raisins. This was actually really good, the chicken was tender, the gravy slightly sweet and that chili mango sauce aside…let’s just say, we finished that bad boy til the last drop. Oh, and there was a side salad with mango dressing too.

So yeah, I really liked it here, and it was a welcome change up from our usual lunch stops. Sitting on the terrace was so nice, the service was funny and accommodating and there are so many more dishes to explore here that I’m sure it won’t be long til I’ll be back at Bengal again. Thanks so much.

Get Your Grub On!

Bengal
Eisanbahnstraße 43
79098 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 1371828
http://bengal-freiburg.de/

Foodie Wunschkonzert!

IMG-20170710-WA0020-02

Sushi Kusakabe is part of a fabulous 3-in-1-foodie-experience in the midst of Umkirch, a lil town just north-west of Freiburg. Part of this trio is a hotel (Hotel Pfauen #1) and a restaurant that’s half Thai (Villa Thai #2) and half Japanese (Sushi Kusakabe #3).

We visited this place for our anniversary last year, and since we kinda loved it back then – like a lot – we returned for this year’s happy occasion again.

IMG-20170710-WA0025-02Diving in, we went exactly the same way as 365 days ago without even realizing it. There was a crisp and tangy tempura moriawase and a tako karaage with a hearty spiced, yet light batter getting us off to a great start.

Next up came the main course, sushi galore. I couldn’t hold back (didn’t want to either) and just had to have that outstanding otoro (fatty tuna belly) again despite its high price tag (Eur9.00/piece). No regrets though as this was a melt-in-my-mouth experience, and one of the best kind at that. Following close behind, right up there on the same quality level, were crunchy, fresh ebi (prawn) nigiri, unagi (eel) glazed with sweet sauce, massaged-til-soft tako (octopus), perfect tamago  (omelette) as well as crunchy shinko (pickled radish) and tuna avocado maki.

To finish up this wonderful meal we chose the papaya with lime sherbet with little pieces of lime peel for a tad more texture, and the thai favorite: mango sticky rice, which for my taste was a bit pricey at Eur12.00. That mango was ripe though and sweet, and the coconut sticky rice balanced out that fruity sweetness just perfectly.

All in all another memorable evening filled with amazing food crafted with skill, patience, and experience by sushi master Kusakabe-san. Outstanding performance on the service front as well, and thanks to all the staff that made our dinner such a lovely one. Sure, we left with a lighter wallet than we came in with but also with a big fat smile on our faces! 🙂 🙂 See you next year (latest) and domo arigato gozaimasu.

Get Your Grub On!

Sushi Kusakabe – Villa Thai – Hotel Pfauen (closed on Tuesdays)
Hugstetter Straße 2
79224 Umkirch
Germany
p: +49 7665 93760
http://www.villa-thai.de/

 

Back in (baja)style!!!

dsc06988-02.jpeg

I hadn’t been to the shack for a while but the sun was out, I had Mexican-Food-Loving-Friends in town and these guys just had announced the return of the baja fish tacos to their menu. So when we arrived back in Freiburg after a day of exploring the black forest and beyond we headed straight for Stühlinger and one of their outside tables ordering a set of fish tacos each.

I’m not sure if my picture does it actual justice but these babies were intimidatingly ginormous. M. and our friend C. intuitively reached for fork and knife but I was willing to get my hands dirty. After all, these were tacos, right? Flipping up the sides of the appropriately large flour tortillas I wasn’t even able to close them properly above the crisp battered perch but I was ready for my first bite and didn’t plan on letting go of it. This was amazing. I still remembered them vaguely from the BZ food truck festival last year but it was like a brand new experience altogether. The batter cracked under my teeth making way for the wonderfully flaky fish meat that was breezy fresh and cooked ’til perfectly glassy. Just moments after the fish literally melted, and the juices had drenched my hands in tasty goodmess, all the other flavours started kicking in; the creamy chipotle mayonnaise, the crunchy greens and veggies, some sourness coming from that tropical salsa and especially awesome vibes blazing from the fresh Mexican herbs. It was like being teleported to a Californian beach (without ever being to one) for a couple of minutes, sipping on a cocktail enjoying the sun. Oh yes, I am glad these fish are back in town.

On top of an excellent meal the service today was super refreshing, attentive and friendly and on my way out I also finally got to say hi to some of the great people, who are responsible for all this. Thanks so much guys and see you soon.

Get Your Grub On!

The Holy Taco Shack (closed on Sundays)
Barbarastraße 18
79106 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 176 32970414
http://www.theholytacoshack.com/

Himmel & Ääd Burger.wp-1458498362959.jpg

What an amazingly beautiful day it has been yesterday and the city was full of locals, students, tourists, and shopaholics alike soaking up the sun and roaming the streets of Freiburg, filling them like ants. We were right in the middle of it and completely lost track of time until our stomachs started growling to let us know a lunch was way overdue. It was lunch madness and almost every place around the Bermuda Dreieck (= Bermuda Triangle; a corner area in Freiburg) was packed with customers and some fast food joints even had queues oozing out their doors. Thankfully I had done my homework so we didn’t have to go on another hangry food quest and just around the corner, nestled between a garage something and another restaurant, Burger Chalet awaited us. As the name tells it’s a popular little burger joint and luckily the queue was sort of short and two lovely ladies allowed us to join them at their table for one of the rare options to sit outside enjoying the sun today.

dsc05771-01.jpeg

Burger of the Month: Himmel & Ääd Burger (Heaven & Earth)

Beforehand I had made plans to get my grub on with that ‘Alpenfeuer’ (Fire of the Alps) burger that comes with a chili-cheese-sauce, firy jalapeños and a homemade chili powder. Well, plans are great, but then life happens and as so often I did let another menu special item distract me and lead me off my  destined path. Without even thinking I heard myself ordering a medium grilled burger of the month, the ‘Himmel & Ääd’ (Heaven & Earth). Himmel & Ääd or Himmel & Erde is a popular and regional german dish, which is mostly common in the Rhineland, Westphalia, and Lower Saxony. In it’s purest version it consists of blood pudding, mashed potatoes, fried onions and apple sauce and actually so did this burger. Together with that juicy beef patty and wedged between two appropriately sized and perfectly toasted buns this just worked. All these very different textures and flavors merged together wonderfully and created something new and delicious. My favorite, besides the remarkable standard items of the burger, was the thin slice of tangy blood pudding, that added a spicy, almost creamy component on top of the patty. The tart and sweet apple chutney gave some fruity notes and the onions, being sweetish as well convinced with a light smokiness. The only thing that didn’t do too much for the whole concept and the flavor palette was the mashed potatoes, and frankly, it made it all just a bit more difficult to eat. I do get it though, it completes the transition of the traditional plated dish to a hands-on inventive burger. Fries were good.

Additionally to the fact that they know how to cook their stuff it’s worthy to mention that they are sourcing most of their ingredients locally, aren’t using any additives, the meat is freshly ground every day and they are making all their sauces themselves and from scratch as well. A lot of craft and thought goes into every burger here and the entire menu is also available with an in-house made vegetable patty for the vegetarians out there. The shop is small and cozily set up for a quick meal in a relaxing atmosphere, however, the glass barrier in front of the grill can’t save you entirely from all the food smell, so don’t mind taking a bit of burger scent home with you. The staff seems to enjoy themselves, is friendly and the guy  behind the counter was particularly fun to chat to. I was super full and happily content when we left and already have the next visit scheduled in my head. This time hopefully trying my original choice of burger and those fabulous looking rosemary potatoes. Thanks for the great grub.

Get Your Grub On!

Burger Chalet (closed on Sundays and public holidays)
Niemenstraße 9
79098 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 278 382
http://www.burger-chalet.de/