Tomorrow we go to Germany again. This time we cover the scenic city of Munich as well as edgy Berlin. Berlin, woo hoo!
But first, Bonn. I liked Bonn very much, it is a quiet, laid back city with minimal street pollution and amiable, non-dysfunctional people who never gave us any attitude for being a tourist or for not knowing any German. In other words this is a very stress-free place. There is also not much to do, half a day is more than enough for sightseeing, which means one has to spend the rest of the time shopping and reading in cafes. (Pictures of quiet streets and statue of Beethoven in flickr stream.)
The eating, how was it? I wasn't expecting much to begin with, and was also quite unprepared because there isn't much information on the good old internet on this topic. On our first day we asked the hotel for restaurant recommendations and they pointed us to traditional restaurant-microbrewery Sudhaus. Ghastly would be an understatement. Blood sausages and mashed potatoes with apple sauce brought to mind geriatric baby food, the stale caramelised onion further exarcebating that impression. Husband's bratwurst was served with 'seasonal vegetables' of fava beans dressed in a weird tacky white sauce.
Fried potato cakes with three cheeses sound good but in reality the cakes were mushy all the way through in spite of their brown exterior. Inexplicably too, they were topped with boiled potatoes. We couldn't finish even a third of the food on our table.
Ater Sudhause we avoided German food for two days. Then I saw on the menu of the cafe Muller-Longhardt a dish of Swiss style veal casserole with spatzle which I had to order because I've never had spatzle before. It was good, the spatzle had a fresh toothsome bite and the meat sauce was meaty and rich with sour cream. Hearty food without any pretensions.
The city centre is where all the major monuments and retail outlets, including WMF and Henckel-Zwillig, are located. There is a small market in the city square which opens from morning till evening, every day, do you hear this Ms Paris? And many many bread shops. Berliners are 0.49 euros a piece. Ice cream scoops start at 0.60 euros. Bonn is not an expensive place, many things are at least twice or thrice cheaper than in Paris. There is even a 1-euro shop! And vice is well catered for, with beer gardens, cigarette shops and se*x shops everywhere.
Currywurst is popular with the locals. I had expected the curry to be more of a sauce but here it is actually a ketchup plus curry powder. Not inedible, but once is definitely more than enough. Let's see if it is better in Berlin.
Nordsee is a fast food chain specialising in fish sandwiches. The Germans also like their pickled herrings and smoked fishes. I enjoyed my fish burger, the fish was flaky and fresh, the fries were hot and crisp and the aioli was served in a cute edible cone.
By far my favourite place in Bonn was a cafe along 54, Breite Strabe. Frau Holle is a kind of collective of boutique, art gallery and cafe. The cafe has leather-upholstered seats, fresh flowers in vases and a playlist of retro American tunes.
The cafe manager was friendly, efficient and seems to know everybody in the neighbourhood. He boils water in the big gilded heater and makes a good cup of coffee. The food was simple but good, the ham sandwiches made with Parma ham, and orange cake buttery and well flecked with orange zests.
Just across the street from Frau Holle is San Telmo at number 55, which serves very good tapas at again, not very high prices. The chorizos were amazing, we had to restrain ourselves from ordering a second portion. Grilled sardines were also very fresh, they hardly needed the accompanying sauce. We tried the seafood paella, the rice was tasty with generous amounts of seafood but lacked the necessary aroma and character of saffron.
There are also a lot of Italian places here. Italy was the most popular holiday destination for the Germans in the past, and they acquired the taste for Italian food. Husband's associates recommended Pizzeria Tuscolo a little further up the Zentrum at 51 Reichsstr, it is the only Italian joint in town with a wood-fired oven. The pizzas were good, with chewy thin crusts and chummy waiters but it is a bit of a walk from the city centre.
Bonn, it may not be a culinary capital, but there is no danger of starvation here.