Saturday 13/11/2004

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Diary and Notes


Yep, my favourite restaurant in all of Göttingen and all I got was a giant plate of salami and some black pudding with fried potatoes.

Today we went to the Schwarzen Bären (the Black Bear) one of Göttingen's oldest Gasthouses and quite one of my favourite places anywhere. I had dinner here back in March and got a fantastic meal of potato soup, pork steak, a local sausage, fried potatoes with bacon, grunkohl (I'll probably have this another day and describe it when I eat it), sauce, strudel and vanilla sauce, dark beer... In fact, everything on the planet that managed to get Helmut Kohl (everybody's favourite stereotypical German - after Göring of course) elected time after time. When you come here for dinner you feel like you're stepping back in time to the days of Prussian officers saluting ladies. The staff are dressed in crisp black and white and are as efficient as a Mercedes Benz engine straight from the factory. The white linen table cloths are neatly starched and pressed. The menu is German with no attempt at pretention or fluffyness and the food absolutely top notch. Oh and did I mention that the whole meal (three courses and beer) wasn't going to cost more than about 15 quid. Yep, the Schwarzen Bären is German's greatest institution bar nothing. Except...

...I don't speak much German and the menu is really German, no attempt to write it in simple words that an idiot like me can understand. The last time I came I was with my German friends Nadine and Marc, who speak German and could explain to me what I was ordering. This time I was with my English friend Mark (notice the different spelling) and my American friend Carrie, neither of whom are German (though Mark studied German at school for five years, lives in Tübingen and should know a bit more than me when it comes to reading menus). So, as you can guess we had a small language problem.

Now Carrie was fine, she was going for the three course goose menu (which I shall eat in a week or two's time no doubt) and her choice was simple. Mark and I, being sturdy folk, wanted a giant plate of pork and sausages and fried potatoes instead, so looked at the 'mit bratkartofflen' section for inspiration.

It is an odd quirk of the menu here, that although things are arranged as starters, soups, main courses and desserts, there is a specific section, away from everything else, that lists all the things which come with the tasty fried bacony potatoes mentioned earlier. The locals must so love these little things, that they take precedence over what is served with them and rightly so I say.

So we ordered our pork and sausage platter and waited with anticipation (and a bowl of goose soup of course). And were we dissapointed when it arrived? Yes. Yes we bloody well were.

Our unfortunate language problem had left us with a plate of salami. We got the fried potatoes and we got sausage, loads of it, all thinly sliced and arranged on a wooden board with a bit of salad in aspic in the centre. There was every type of salami known to mankind (including black pudding). However, I would be lying if I didn't say it wasn't excellent. It wasn't what we had wanted when we ordered it, but when I came to eating it, I really didn't mind. You can't go wrong at the Schwarzen Bären. Just throw a dart at the menu and you'll be fine. So I've had a giant plate of salami and fried potatoes for dinner and that's it for the year, but I can come back to the Black Bear again and again and get slowly fatter and more Germanic with each trip, until I look like a cheery, red nosed, lederhosen bedecked, zeppelin. You may see me flying over London come late December, at least I should save on the air fare.

Cake Blog

Today's cake was a superb piece of Hubertus Torte from Cron and Lanz. A cherry flavoured delight with rolled sponge and chocolate. It's hard to describe, but is my third favourite cake in all Göttingen. Don't I just look so gay (in the old fashioned sense of the word) as I prepare to tuck in.


  • Clear goose bouillon,

  • Würste,
  • Bratkartoffeln,

  • Berry soup and ice cream,

  • Göttinger Dunkels.