Witwenbull

Weidenallee 20 – 20357 HamburgGermany • 49 40 53630085 • witwenball.com
 

I’m gonna have to say Witwenbull was probably my favorite all around dining experience in Hamburg. The setting is very nice, without being fancy. Walking that perfect line between casual and dressy. Service is very good as well, particularly with the wine recos, starting with the mostcomplex Reisling I’ve ever laid lips on, to a wonderful German dessert wine that I can’t even begin to figure out how to spell, but I’m pretty sure there were umlauts. 

The food had a strong showing as well, particularly on the bookends. For apps, the eggplant caponatta is fantabulous. Topped with a killer, creamy buratta and given texture and sweetness with cashews and raisins. Dessert was perhaps even more impressive though, a simple crepe suzette and a thing of beauty, paired up with that aforementioned dessert wine and you’ve got a duo the likes of George and Gracie. 

Unfortunately, the entrée was a pretty big miss for me, and I use the word “big” intentionally, because the pork belly was enormous, which at first probably has you saying- “But FF, how could a ton of pork belly ever be a bad thing? Isn’t more of what you love always better?” Well,  I’m not sure I agree. Some things are better in moderation. And pork belly is just inherently one of those things, which is why you always see it as a starter and seldom a main, which is why I blame myself for this, because I should’ve been wary of it listed under entrées. Foolishly I thought it would be smaller, but it was ginormous. Worse still, it also had bone fragments in half of it, which was a bizarre first for me. The flavor was still good, however, and just good enough to eke out a fourth knife. 

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Parlament

Rathausmarkt 1 – 20095 Hamburg, Germany • +49 40 70383399 • parlament-hamburg.de

Located in one of the coolest, most stunning and historical buildings in Hamburg, Parliament is a wow on the eyes from approach to table (pictured). And that’s about the only nice thing I have to say. The service is atrocious and about as attentive as a sloth in a coma.

 

And speaking of lifeless things, the food is flavorless. Worst schnitzel I’ve ever had. The potato salad that it comes with was slightly better, but it came about 30 minutes later, so to say that it came “with” the schnitzel is being generous. The other it ACTUALLY didn’t come with is the lingonberry jam. I had to ask for it special. And trust me, it needed it. Sad day when Milwaukee bests Germany at Schnitzel.

 

On the plus side, the hefeweizen beer was very tall and very good. Sadly not tall enough or good enough to get me so drunk that I didn’t care about the fact that a calf was tortured for nothing.

Clouds

Reeperbahn 1  Hamburg, Germany 20359 • +49 40 30993280 • clouds-hamburg.de
 

As the name would imply, this place is set atop a skyscraper “in the clouds,” overlooking the entire city with amazing views, particularly from the men’s room. Hands down the best urinal view ever. And speaking of penises, the building is right at the entrance to the Reeperbahn, which is the famous red-light district of Hamburg. But don’t let that scare you. These days the Reeperbahn is more for partying than for sexual escapades. Although there is an area within it so hardcore they don’t allow women. Rumor has it this is not out of sexism though, more to protect the customers from getting busted by their wives. It’s just bad for business.

But I digress, so getting back to MY business, let’s talk about the restaurant. Starting with the décor, which is definitely cool but clearly trying very hard to be trendy. The food also made a few worthy attempts, particularly amongst the starters, as both the duck fat fries and the asparagus were killer. As for the chateaubriand, I found it a touch on the chewy side, but decent. The sauce options, however, were very hit and miss. The red wine sauce being too watery, the Béarnaise lacking flavor and the peppercorn being the Goldilocks- just right!

Ending on a down note the desserts were all a miss for me and the so where the drinks. Their signature cocktail, the Green Goblin is like drinking a dayglow green, alcoholic sherbet you’d get at a Fat Tuesdays circa 1991, and our bottle of wine was also somewhat bland, not holding up to the meaty feast before us.

Teetering between two and three knives, I think I’m going to round up to a soft three. After all, that urinal view really is something to behold.

Rothbard Ale & Larder

90 Post Rd EWestport, CT 06880 • 203) 557-9666 • rothbardct.com

Rothbart is not a bar. Nor is it a restaurant. It is an Eastern European godsend filled with beer that flows like happiness dipped in gold and dishes that will have you thinking you’re in Prague, not Westport.

The setting alone couldn’t be more perfect really, with it’s castle-esque, basement dining room off the corner of an alley (of the charming variety). Which proves to be a living testament to just how good this place is, because it’s plenty busy for a place that isn’t that easy to find. In fact, the only reason we went there was because the wait was ridic at Bar Taco. And I’m so glad it was!

Beyond having kickass tripel beer on tap and in bottle, the bartender Adam is the perfect blend of sarcasm and wry- yet Johnny on the spot with his service and the recos.

Of the starters, I think I’d give it to the cannibal toast by a nose. Essentially a deftly balanced beef tartar spread over toast and over and out. We horked it down so fast I’m lucky I still have all ten fingers.

After that, an extremely close second would be the mussels, cooked in a beer-based broth that rivals any white wine version I’ve ever had.

The pretzel is also a solid option, but not by comparison to its predecessors. And truth be told, if it’s pretzel you want, then save yourself for the bratwurst platter. It is everything right with this world all on one cutting board. A beautifully charred brat, bursting at the seams with flavor. A ramekin of tallegio, a pile of cornichon, a dollop of grain mustard and last but not least, a pretzel roll that is every bit as good as the solo act, only with this dish you can doll it up into a bratwurst sandwich worthy of the gods.

The other starter I would giddily recommend is the deviled egg appetizer. Not quite as impressive as the ones over at The Whelk, but that’s a mighty high bar to be fair. These are topped with pickled pearl onions and trout roe and are hot damn delicious.

The only real miss for me is the chicken schnitzel. It’s really quite bland and lacking the accouterments to make it interesting. Essentially, it’s like ordering one gigantic chicken finger that covers your entire plate.

But getting back to the wowzers, be sure to get the salted apple pie as your closer. It is deceptively simple, yet magnificent in every metric imaginable.

This is not the place for the faint of heart, however. So if you’re on a diet and looking for a light bite, you really shouldn’t come here unless you’re willing to fall off the wagon. Hard.

Cox

Lange Reihe 68 20099 Hamburg, Germany+49 40 249422restaurant-cox.de

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Perhaps it’s my internal Beavis and Butthead poking through (poor choice of words in conjunction with “cox”), but you have to at least smile at the name of the place, knowing that it is located in the Gay District of Hamburg. I can only assume it’s somewhat intentional, but if not, then I think it’s even more worthy of a chuckle. Granted, if I put aside my sophomoric indulgences for a second, deductive reasoning does also point to a second origin for the name, that of a coxswain in rowing, which is probably a pretty popular site along the Elbe River just blocks away. But that definition isn’t anywhere near as funny.

Further debunking my name theory, there really is nothing else about Cox that plays off of the neighborhood or penile innuendos, coming across as a very traditional bistro with a casual vibe, good energy and lots of inventive twists on the menu, tapping into an array of European cuisine influences (although the restaurant self identifies as German cuisine).

The first being the black sausage with curry spices. A mash up of Great Britain or Ireland and Northern Africa. It’s a tasty combination, but not quite amazing either. Whereas the lamb over waffles was very good. Far better than its poultry predecessor if you ask me.

But come dessert back down we went with a mixed berry sabayon that did little for me, even with the vanilla ice cream on top, which helped, but not enough.

What helped more was the killer Cote du Rhone Syrah we had, but since Cox isn’t a vineyard I can only give them so many props on the pick. And thus, two knives is my call.

2 teeth

 

The Ultimate Schnitzel

chicken-schnitzel

The Rumpus Room – Milwaukee, WI

Truth be told, I tend to find the high water mark for schnitzel rather low. I mean, even great schnitzel is only just “good” by comparison to so many other dishes I’d rather have. But that was until I ate at the Rumpus Room. They showed me the light. And this is how they did it.

First, they start with a pork-based schnitzel as opposed to veal, which I don’t think made the difference and if anything added to the level of difficulty, because veal usually trumps pork in my book. But I do believe it is local, hormone/antibiotic free pork, which does make a difference.

Then, they obviously bread and fry the thing, but the breading they use seems to be pretty standard as schnitzels go. What isn’t standard is how moist it turns out. And how they top it, with a mound of spicy arugula, a local aged gouda and a farm fresh, sunny-side egg, all culminating in a perfect storm of schnitzel bliss.

Edi & The Wolf – New York, NY

What makes this schnitzel sing isn’t the schnitzel itself, it’s the accoutrements that surround it. A sweet lingonberry jam, a refreshing cucumber slaw and a creamy, mustardy potato salad that when paired with a bite of the heritage pig schnitzel or any sub-combination thereof, you are met with a complexity of flavors often woefully absent from the realm of schnitzel.

Edi & The Wolf

102 Ave C New York, NY 10009 • (212) 598-1040 ediandthewolf.com

edi

Probably the second best Schnitzel I’ve ever had. Mostly because of its accompaniments. The jam, the cucumber slaw and potato salad are all on point. The spaetzle, on the other hand, was rather bland comparatively. That said, one of the non-German dishes was very strong. The snapper was delish- almost like something you’d expect to be served at Nobu.

And last but not least, the decor- the true star of Edi. It’s Edward Scissorhands meets barn chic. Very creepy cool. For example, the flower arrangement at our table was in an old boot.

Definitely worth the change of pace.

3 teeth

Seasonal

132 W 58th St. New York, NY 10019(212) 957-5550seasonalnyc.com

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While Seasonal is not a runaway success and there are many misses to be had on the menu, the highs are so very high that it’s hard to give it just 3 knives.

First off, the amuse bouche was quite good. A creamy truffle soup that even a Soup Nazi could envy.

The breads, however, were a touch on the dry side- but the spreads they served them with made up for it. One red pepper, one green olive, both delicious.

For the apps, please, please, please listen to me on this one. The sweetbreads are INCREDIBLE! Forget that they are glands for just a second and appreciate them for their complex, sweet- almost fried oyster-like brilliance. It far surpassed every other app on the table, including the lobster with poached egg, which only wishes it could die a quick death and be reincarnated as this sweetbread dish.

As for entrees, the schnitzel comes just like it does at Edi & the Wolf, which is very good, but if you’ve had it there, I urge you to forgo it for the Skate. Yes, fish. Not a big “Austrian” dish, but WOW was it amazing! Layered with rich flavors worthy of a red meat dish.

As for the veal cheeks with spaetzle- skip it. It was the weakest entree at the table.

And as for dessert, while the strudel is good, it pales in comparison to Peter Luger’s, which is easily the best apple strudel in the city. That said, the apple pancakes were very good and the far better choice of the two.

As for service, I thought they were quite good. Friendly and attentive.

Decor is also nice, clean and simple- but it’s the layout itself that is kind of a bummer. First, the place is very narrow and when coupled with a long bar that is probably too big for the space it literally makes it so that there really isn’t a truly “nice” table in the entire restaurant. Even the room in the back is windowless and almost claustrophobic.  Fortunately we were with good company and we weren’t facing the bar, but the fact remains we were basically sitting right on top of it..

So, despite Seasonal’s shortcomings, its longcomings? make it definitely worth a visit. Especially if you’re seeing a show in midtown.

4 teeth