Taking the Scenic Route

Where everybody knows your name

19th August 2008

Where everybody knows your name

posted in Attendorn, Food, Germany, Travel |

Last night when we went to eat, both restaurant areas were fully booked, so we ate in the bar.  Frankly, the bar is more fun to us because it is more lively, so that was a good thing as far as we were concerned.  The food here is always top notch.  Very, very good. 

One of the fun things about the bar is the group of guys that are almost always there, playing cards and giving each other a hard time.  I can’t understand a thing they are saying, but it is obvious they are enjoying themselves and it is fun to overhear the enthusiastic jarring across the table as they play.  I love hearing them in the background as we sit and talk.

The Beef vs. Pork tangent
The closest thing I have had to an exception to “all food here is great”  is the steak I had last night.  The steak was well seasoned and the flavor was good, but I am spoiled by living in the heart of beef country and used to fork tender steaks.  (as in, you really don’t need a knife if you are eating a good steak).  I definatly needed my knife, and was having to dig in my brain on how to cut it so that it was against the grain to make it more tender to eat.  lol.  Now I understand why there is hardly any beef in the grocery stores, and I really should have taken that as a clue not to order beef here.  It tasted really good, and the chef did a great job with the best quality I suspect he had available. In fact, I think the pasta we have enjoyed a few times has beef tenderloins on top, but it is prepared in a way that helps deal with any toughness.  That was fork tender, so I assumed the regular steaks would be too.  Not so true. 

It is the opposite of home.  At home, pork is usually much tougher, dry and you have to prepare it in ways that compensate for that (pound the heck out of it, put it in sauces, cut it the right direction, etc), but here it is so tender and tasty that I am getting over my prejudice against pork steaks.  lol  They love their pork here and do an amazing job of preparing it.

So, if you come to Germany from beef country and want to order beef, order it in a form where they can use knife skills and other tricks of the trade to make it tender.  A slab of beef is not going to be your best choice here.  If you don’t have any restrictions on pork, get that instead.  Every restaurant here seems to do really well with pork.  (of course, some are better than others, but generally speaking, pork is a better choice.)

…and, back on topic
The staff here are just exceptional.  I usually have to adjust my expectations for places because, as a former hotel/restaurant manager, I have a tendancy to see any imperfection because that is what you have to do to improve the performance of your staff  (and yourself).  Here the service seems pretty flawless, and quite exceptional. 

It is almost becoming a running joke between Zach and I that they must have elves watching the room to see when I leave and then hurry and clean it while I am gone.  I don’t leave at the same time every day, and sometimes not until the evening.  To my horror, one night when I left in the evening, I didn’t expect them to clean the room that late and left a little pile of toenail clippings on the endtable (Zach interupted me when he came home and I hadn’t tidied up yet) and they came and cleaned.  I was mortified when I realized the toenail clipping pile was gone and the table cleaned off.  I know, from years of experience, that is probably nowhere near the grossest thing they have seen, but still. 

The waitstaff / barstaff here is really spectacular.  The only major difference between here and home are cultural ones.  Here it is obvious that they expect you to linger for a while after the meal, and linger over your drinks (rather than chugging and needing refills).  They expect you to go at a more leisurly pace than we were accustomed to.  It has taken almost a week for us to really get the pace here and learn to just chill out enough to just sit.  Finally, last Sunday, a table actually left before we did and we knew we had finally hit the relaxed rhythm that is the norm around here.  Take the leisurely pace together with “a good German Beer takes 7 minutes to pour” and you have a totally different pace than the fast paced American meals where you are practically pushed out of the restaurant to turn over the table. (especially if you have kids in tow)  Of course, it might also be because it is a smaller town and not a metropolitan area too.  Small towns in the US let you linger a bit longer too. (but you almost have to get to the “one stoplight” towns and smaller to have that pace there)

Everyone seems to go out of their way to make sure we are comfortable and happy.  They don’t seem annoyed by our struggle with the language, and most of them speak at least a little English.  We are gaining a little on German words, but it still isn’t to the level of people who claim they don’t know much English.  lol.  Apparently, we don’t have the accent right yet either because even when we use German, they smile, amused, and start talking to us in English.  lol.  We must be pretty transparent.

The chef here, Otto, is really quite exceptional.  I was shocked on my first time in the dining room when he came out to make sure that garlic was ok when he got the message that I couldn’t eat onions.  He double checks with us almost every meal now if he has a question.  Pretty cool.  On a more personal note, the first time he came out I knew immediatly that he looked just like somebody I knew.  I couldn’t place it for a while, but it wasn’t just how he looked, but how he held himself…his posture, his gestures, his facial expressions…everything.  Almost uncanny.  Zach said he thought the same thing but couldn’t place it either, only commenting that he thought it was somebody that he knew, but that I knew better.  It took us a few days and all of a sudden it hit us who he looks like.  He seriously has a doppleganger in Kansas.  Here is a test for my mom and Dawn, who also know this person.  You might not get it without seeing the body language, but let’s see if you can determine the doppleganger too:


Another cultural difference between here and the US is the concept of leftovers.  I can not for the life of me figure out how people eat such huge portions and are not particularly fat.  I am fat.  I can put it away, but I can not finish an entire meal here, no matter how hungry I am.  It is just an astonishing amount of food.  Apparently they eat it all because they are not at all familiar with the concept of taking the leftovers home with you.  They have no carryout dishes/boxes/bags in the restaurant for food take away.  Last night, when we asked if we could take the leftovers to our room “Packin’ ” (probably a very different spelling, but that is what the word sounds like to my ears if you ask for a to-go bag).  When we were ready to leave, this it what the waiter brought us:

ROLF!  They have to think we are just nuts.  They didn’t have any take away dishes, so they just wrapped them in kitchen dishes and sent them with us.  lol.  I don’t think we will ask for “packin’ ” again.   I was not expecting that at all.

One more quickie before I sign off.  I am amused by the exit sign.  lol

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 at 2:12 AM and is filed under Attendorn, Food, Germany, Travel. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 3 responses to “Where everybody knows your name”

  1. 1 On August 19th, 2008, Cindy from HANCK said:

    I have been really enjoying reading about your trip. You have quite a way of bringing it all to life. The only problem is that now I REALLY have the bug to do a little traveling, and that ain’t happenin’ anytime soon! Ah, well. Someday.

  2. 2 On August 21st, 2008, anastasia said:

    hi, i found your blog through your xanga blog…i really enjoy reading your entries here.

    my guess as far as germans eating a lot and still not get fat is that their food is probably not fattening/unhealthy and processed as american food.

  3. 3 Jennifer On August 24th, 2008, Jennifer said:

    I will agree with you on not being as processed, but it is certainly at least as fattening as American food, if not more so. The portions are huge too. The thing that I think really makes the biggest difference is the lifestyle is much more active. Just having smaller refrigerators and less preservatives in the food means you walk to the market each day to get food.

    Jokingly, I wonder if it is also why the furniture isn’t as comfortable…they don’t spend nearly as much time sitting down and I know for me, I walked a whole lot more than usual because there wasn’t a good place for me to just snuggle into a comfy spot and knit or read for hours on end. Of course, the furniture might be more comfortable in homes than it is in a hotel…that is true here at home.

  • Subscribe

Spread the Word

 Log in