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Friday, November 16

New Restaurants to Share

As you may have noticed, I haven’t written many restaurant reviews here. One reason for that is it’s truly difficult to find memorable restaurants here. We try various places but without success. Sadly, I’ve found myself saying I rather eat in or make something from scratch instead of testing a new restaurant only to be disappointed. But here’s a list of few that are worth mentioning.

Per Bacco is an Italian place we most recently tried with some friends. It’s in a residential corner of Gostenhof. The restaurant has a deli on the right side and formal seating on the left. The seating area for customers is small but intimate. There is a large map of Italy on the wall with wines listed shown from the country’s regions. There is also a large blackboard that lists the daily pasta specials. In the 15+ pasta dishes to choose from, they had 4 homemade pastas. The ones I remember were Ravioli, Pappardelle, and Fazzoletti.

That night, the husband ordered spaghetti with scampi (langostines) while I opted for the Fazzoletti. (I always get homemade pasta because it features the chef and the restaurant’s pasta making skills). One woman in our group got the ravioli, her husband the calamari. The 2nd couple ordered Fazzoletti and pasta with horse meat sauce. Generally speaking, I think calamari is really hard to make or easy to overcook or undercook but the person that got it said it was perfectly cooked. The ravioli was filled with spinach and cheese and appreciated for its delicate taste. The pasta with the horse meat was unexpectedly delicious. We were all a tad nervous to try horse meat but it was one of my favorite new tastes. The husband’s langostines looked tasty (he said they were fine) and the pasta and sauce were good. Fazzoletti are little handkerchiefs and filled. Mine were filled with chestnuts and then sauteed in a sausage, olive oil sauce. At first it sounded unusual but upon first bite, I was intrigued. I wouldn’t normally pair chestnuts with sausage sauce but this was delectable. Unfortunately for me, I am not a fan of sweet filling for pasta as a main course so I was put off by the chestnuts but I highly recommend trying it if it’s on the menu. We shared a Tiramisu and that was rich. Overall Per Bacco gets high praise for the service, wine and food; it’s hidden for good reason.

Another place that I am raving to everyone about is a sushi restaurant. Sushi is my all-time favorite food and it’s close to impossible to find a place that offers fresh fish and seafood with impressive rolls. I’d heard good things about Sushi Edo from various people but hadn’t made it to the place until recently. A friend and I met up for a sushi lunch and were surprised by its location. Not only is Sushi Edo few stops from Altstadt (downtown), it’s hidden behind business/office buildings. The restaurant is a large space with modern Japanese décor. I got the Spicy Tuna and Salmon Skin roll and their version of Spider Roll. The fish was very fresh and there was an actual fiery kick to the spicy Tuna roll. My friend liked all her rolls. She is also a sushi fan and agreed this was one of the best restaurants she’d tried here.

The first time the husband and I tried Ethiopian food was in Cincinnati US. Contrary to popular belief, Cincinnati isn’t the hotbed of Ethiopians but the one and only restaurant offers authentic food. It exposed us to a new type of ethnic food. I believe, Ethiopian food is very much like Indian food in that it has lentils of some sort, various vegetarian dishes (cabbage, potatoes, collard greens in its own spices and herbs), and a meat dish that’s all eaten with Injera, a 3rd cousin of the sourdough bread in a spongy, flatbread version. To eat it, you take the Injera bread in one hand and use it to pick up one or mixture of veggies or meat.

We first tried Shashamane months ago but I’ve been behind on reporting on it. Its location is behind the Hauptbahnhof (main railway station), tucked away in an business area. (There's a pattern with all these good places being tucked away.) On the inside the restaurant feels like a Rastafarian home with multiple pictures of Bob Marley and flags of Jamaica. There is also a disco ball. When we went we got a large platter (for two); it came with lamb stew, lentils slowly cooked in spices, cabbage with cumin seeds, sautéed collard greens and lots of Injera bread. Enough bread to fill us up, to the brim. Everything tasted like we had in Cincinnati. Although that doesn’t justify its authenticity, we believe the food we tried in Cincinnati and here at Shashamane was memorable, real and worth repeat visits. The disco ball, we later learned, is for the nights the restaurant turns into a reggae bar.

Finally Herr Lenz is an organic restaurant. It’s one of a kind because they source most of their ingredients locally. They have a weekly menu that changes based on the ingredients sourced for that week. The night we went we ordered a large salad and a braised chicken. My salad came with romaine, red lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. The dressing was made of yogurt and mustard. But the one thing that made my salad memorable is the brie wrapped in bacon and briefly toasted. The saltiness of the bacon tied in with the creaminess of the brie was the ultimate addition to the salad. The husband’s braised chicken was browned and then braised in wine sauce with onions, carrots and potatoes. This, by no means is original, but we were both pleasantly surprised with the simple, home cooked taste. Although a salad isn’t a solid enough reason to rave about a restaurant, we are happy to have a restaurant that sources locally on our list.

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