One of the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) things about living right in the Heidelberg "Altstadt" is the plethora of fantastic restaurants. Pretty much any kind of food you like, you can find it in the Altstadt. Over the past couple years we've tried quite a few of them and have seldom been disappointed. Believe it or not, the ones we usually avoid are the German restaurants. I do like German food occasionally but it's so unhealthy that I usually avoid it. Germany is a meat and potatoes country for sure; unfortunately, the preferred meat is usually pork or sausage and the preferred potatoes are usually french fries (pommes). Seriously, it seems like every German restaurant serves pommes as a side dish.
Yesterday we were taking our afternoon walk, looking for a place for lunch. I decided to try someplace new but nothing was seeming all that appealing so we just kept walking and eventually were up near the castle where I spied the "Roten Ochsen" (Red Ox). The Red Ox is a Heidelberg institution, very historic and famous. Several celebrities have eaten there over the years such as Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne. I'd heard all about it but several people have told me that it's gotten so touristy over the years that it's lost its luster. I've looked over the menu a few times and found the usual German fare, so all of these things together have prevented me from ever stepping foot inside...until yesterday that is.
I looked at the menu yesterday and saw a few things that looked appealing so I told the wife we might as well try it once before we leave, if only to say that we've been there. The moment we walked in, I fell in love with the place. As I sat down and took in the ambiance, I immediately felt great shame that I have been living here over two years and had never tried it before. It is about as old-time as any place I've ever eaten, the walls are covered with memorabilia and old photographs. There are ox horns hanging from the ceiling and old style beer steins everywhere. Believe it or not, the place goes back to the year 1703. And the menu! Sure there were the usual suspects - bratwurst and saurkraut, schnitzel, etc. - but there was a good selection of other stuff such as deer steak and sauerbraten. I could not decide between the boiled beef with horseradish sauce and pumpkin or the grilled turkey steak with mushroom gravy so I got the beef, the wife got the turkey and we shared. The bolied beef dish was so amazingly delicious that I started thinking that maybe I didn't want to share after all! But, since sacrifice and compromise are paramount to any marriage, I held true to my word and switched plates with the wife halfway through. And damn if the turkey steak with the mushroom gravy wasn't every bit as tasty as the beef dish. I was just floored at how good the food was, I cannot remember enjoying a meal so much in a long time.
With only a few weeks left here, I am ruing the fact that I have only just now discovered the Red Ox. We'll definitely eat there again at least a couple times before we leave. Here's their website: Roten Ochsen if you'd like to check it out.
And here's a few photos from our lunch yesterday, click on the pic to enlarge...