The Wintergarten at Winkler Bräu: celebrating our first anniversary

One year ago, I married my best friend in the entire world.

Never in a million years did I expect that we would spend our first anniversary on foreign soil, let alone in Germany, which I always considered one of the most romantic places in the world. With its centuries-old architecture and cozy lowlight restaurants steeped in medieval history, it sets the perfect mood for special occasions.

We chose to go to Winkler Bräu, a brewery-restaurant-hotel in in Velberg/Lengenfeld. A couple months ago, we dined here with a group of friends on a warm summer evening and sat in the outdoor courtyard. It was wonderful. The wait staff dresses in traditional dark green dirndls or vests with gold buttons, the tables are adorned with white table cloths and candles, and the atmosphere is quiet and romantic.

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And the food is out of this world. It’s authentic Bavarian cuisine, with main dishes like pork or wild game drenched in heavenly gravy with generous portions of Spätzle or Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings) that soak up the salty juices from the perfectly cooked meat.

For this special date, we made a reservation a day in advance. We arrived around 6:30 and were seated in the same courtyard area as before, only this time it was the “Wintergarten,” an enclosed greenhouse-like room.

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We warmed up with a bowl of frothy pumpkin cream soup, garnished with balsamic vinegar. This seems to be the standard way to serve pumpkin soup in Germany, and it’s genius. The acidity of the vinegar cuts the creamy sweetness from the pumpkin and coats your mouth with the most heavenly, savory flavor. Pair it with a dark beer like Winkler Bräu’s Kupfer Spezial and you might as well never eat soup again, because nothing will ever top this one.

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For the main course, we both chose a saddle of venison over roasted mushrooms, cranberry sauce, and celery root puree. It also came with a generous portion of Schupfnudeln, which are small pieces of fried potato dough tossed in herb butter.

This meal was the best thing I’ve eaten in Germany so far (and it should be, for €28). At first glance, it didn’t look like very much food on the plate, but after a few bites I realized just how rich it was. Everything was cooked to perfection, and the flavors were well balanced. The venison was rich, the cranberry sauce was tart, the mushrooms were savory, and the celery root was creamy. It was a Bavarian November on a plate.

We were just too full for dessert. Instead, we sat for a good while and sipped on our beers, enjoying our candlelit conversation in the laid-back atmosphere that is characteristic of German dining establishments.

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This is something I love about dining in this country. You will never feel pressured to finish your meal and leave. If you don’t ask for the check, they won’t bring it to you. If you want to stay engrossed in conversation and beer for hours, then do it! The table is yours from the moment you sit down until the moment you decide to leave. It’s definitely conducive to a romantic evening when you can linger in conversation and enjoy each other’s company, especially when you’ve put time and effort into looking your best.

We dropped by the little gift shop on the way out, and bought a bar of Kupfer dark chocolate. We devoured it while sipping homemade Manhattans and watching the most recent episode of The Walking Dead.

I told you, I married my best friend.

 

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