Thursday, 14 November 2019
Eating out organic in Mannheim is different than in other cities: First it means vegetarian and vegan-friendly (almost) without exceptions. Second there seem to be no places serving national kitchens -- no German Wirtshaus, no French cuisine, no Turkish fastfood and not even a mock Italian place. And finally organic here means organic for everyone, not just for a wealthy, hip and urban clientele. As a result you may miss cleverly designed cool places as much as refined coffeehouses or classy gourmet restaurants. The good news is that Mannheim's organic restaurants and cafes are extremely affordable.
For breakfast (or a snack or coffee during the day) head for Bio-Bäcker Bihn on the ground floor of the Stadthaus housing the city library and other communal facilities and staging the city's part of the Mannheim/Heidelberg International Film Festival. Enter the complex from the north-eastern entry facing Paradeplatz, and you'll find the unpretentious bakery cum self-service cafe at the right hand site.
The breakfast options served on work- and Saturdays until noon are sufficient for two not too hungry ones; you can choose from a menu which also boosts three vegan varieties or combine yourself. Coffee or tea on the go is possible, but you should rather bring your own refillable cup (or buy one on the spot) as a one-way paper beaker righteously will be charged with 25 cents. For breakfast, lunch or in between freshly prepared sandwiches are available, too (though no longer in the evening). The coffee comes from an automat, and the rather cheap-looking interior design maintains a low threshold. If you come with a family or friends pay together which will give you a small discount (10% above 20 €, 12% above 30 € and 15 percent of a total above 50€).
100 percent organic wholefood has been served for almost 30 years now at the Hellers self-service restaurant on the Kaiserring ringway opposite the Wasserturm ("water tower") landmark. Take a tray and a plate, fill it from the various stations offering salads, mueslis, soups and warm dishes, proceed to the cash counter and find a place in the winter-garden like dining hall. During the busy lunch hours (usually between noon and 2 pm) there's also a separate station offering a pan-fried dish of the day in small or regular size. It's located next to the entrance and you also have to pay there. The food follows the principles of health food, seasonal and low in spices (the "hot" components I had were rather bland).
At the entrance to the sitting area there's a coffee and cake bar also serving ice-cream (1.50 € the scoop).
The cake at around 3 € the piece and the coffee drinks compensate for the rather low lunch prices: 4.15 € for a large (that is: what elsewhere would be regular sized) latte and 2.50 € for a small espresso from a coffee dispenser is more than you'd pay in much more pricey cities, and
given that the adjacent Alnatura supermarket has a decent Italian pressure coffee machine (though only one chair and table for in-house consumation) better take a coffee next door.
The audience at Hellers is quite different than in organic restaurants you may be used to: a lot of elderly people meet here for lunch and coffee.
Unfortunately the place doesn't serve breakfast -- the
kitchen opens half an hour after the cafe opens and closes one hour (on Sundays and public holidays two hours) before closing time. Also good to know: The soap dispenser in the bathroom contains organic handwash.
If you fancy a better coffee in the Schwetzingerstadt neighbourhood you may step by Eddie's, the city's zero waste grocery store.
For an organic coffee, spritzer (of fruit juice and sparkling water) or wine head for the north-western neighbourhood of Jungbusch. The vegetarian, vegan-friendly gastro pub Kombüse serves Mexican-style fastfood as well as a daily changing soup and main course, on availability (but not reliably) using organic veges. It keeps open until late and may give you an impression of the city's subculture. The place also offers a take away service, but kindly invites guests to bring their own re-usable cups and jars. You will be charged the extra expense if you insist on one-way packaging.
South of the main train station
Interestingly the hippest and most expensive places aren't located in the very city centre but south of the railway tracks. The first one is the Glückstein in Lindenhof south of the railway tracks, a short way from the banks of the river Rhine. This organic vegan restaurant took over from Frankfurt-based raw eatery Rohkosteria.
You can choose from the menu which still contains a lot of raw dishes
(bowls and salads, burgers, wraps, falafel, vegetable "pasta", smoothies, shots, cakes and cookies), and two warm and filling daily specials at 8 EUR (I had a simple, yet very tasty lentils-based lasagna).
Although the place is open in the evenings no alcohol is being served here, and you can also have caffeine-free lupin-based "coffee" drinks.
The pleasantly designed interior and the unexcited atmosphere make it an ideal place to stay for a while.
If you have a bicycle take the chance to visit the neighbourhood of Neckarau where you will find two real gems: The first one opened in 2019: Hedonist is another modern, thoroughly designed eatery, friendly, but less homely than Glückstein, rather the type of place where you expect busy business people to have a recreational and healthy lunch break (but no worries, the audience isn't that uniform). You can buy everything to take away, much of it in returnable glass jars with a deposit of 2 EUR -- salads, desserts, falafel and burger sandwiches, pasta, but also German-style pork and fish main courses. On weekdays a set menu consisting of a main course and a dessert is available at lunch time. On the Thursday I was there it was (very filling and quite dry) falafel with some salad, a spoon of pickled beetroot, a small amount of lentil salad, prefectly crisp potato chips and tasty (though too cold) potato salad. While the food is being served guests may collect the generous glass of dessert from the fridge. I had the so-called cheesecake which wasn't actually a cake but a cheese cream with oranges and sponge biscuits. There were also tiramisu and blueberry or raspberry mascarpone cream. The entire vegetarian meal came at 8 EUR, if you choose a fish or meat main course the price tag increases to 11 or even 15 EUR.
There's also a rack of selected wines, pickles and condiments to buy home. The place is fuelled by renewable energies.
Right next to the Hedonist you'll find the second place, a carefully curated and decorated cafe cum wine shop cum organic delicatessen dubbed Bittersüß ("bitter sweet"). Too beautiful to call it an owner-run organic grocery store you can buy all daily necessities here -- fresh fruits and veges, and dairy products as well as organic bodycare. But on top of all this you'll find French sweets, selected cognac and other spirits, an abundance of wine, delicate chocolates, and last but not least the delicious products of the organic ginger bread bakery Friedmann in the same neighbourhood. Between noon and 2pm vegetarian lunch is being served on weekdays -- the daily changing menu you'll find on a hand-written piece of paper at the cashier desk.
North of the Neckar river
Bicycle lovers must not miss out the city's first bike cafe in the Neckarstadt north of the river Neckar. The
Café Flamme Rouge (dubbed after the red flag displayed one kilometer before the end of a bike race) was established in 2005 and serves
organic bread and rolls from the
Lummerland organic bakery with biodynamic vegetarian spreads, partially organic coffee, home-made pesto, pancakes and a lunch dish (the menu changes on Mondays and Thursdays).
Also located in Neckarstadt Ost the
has a focus on regional, but unfortunately not organic ingredients. Organic products are used in the kitchen here and there, and the milk is always organic, though neither the (locally roasted) coffee or tea.
More to try
The following place I had on my research list but could not make it there:
No longer organic
The Wohnhunger gifts and things shop does no longer offer organic soups or stews for lunch, and does not use organic milk for their coffee drinks. The coffee itself may occasionally be organic (as they also sell organic beans) but usually isn't.
Of the following places you may find remnants on the web but be assured: They do no longer exist.
- Café Vogelfrei, C3, 20
- Bio-Bäcker Bihn, M3, 7(moved to Stadthaus)
- envita Bio-Restaurant, Im Stadthaus N1, 1 (replaced by organic bakery Bihn)
- O’ Dog Café, M5, 8 (Hot dogs)
- mundgrün veganerie, T3, 7 (vegan) (preceeded by Sonnenblume Naturkost)
- Veggie-Stadel (formerly Bio-Stadel), Lindenhofstr. 62 replaced by Rohkosteria
- Rohkosteria, Lindenhofstr. 62, replaced by Glückstein
- Bio-Bäcker Bihn, Kurfürstenstr. 7
[Mannheim, organic, breakfast, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, vegan, vegetarian, restaurant, bakeries, ice-cream, delicatessen, wine]
Sunday, 20 October 2019
In a city that -- according to reliable hearsay -- has at minimum five zero-waste supermarkets it should be easy to find the next shop or restaurant selling and using organic produce. Unfortunately my stay -- a night and a few hours -- was too short for thorough research, so the reviews here are far from comprehensive.
Where to stay
Having said this it turned out that in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus it was impossible to find a place to stay sustainably and wake up to an at least predominantly organic breakfast at a short notice -- all the places below were sold out. I finally stayed at the DJH youth hostel and dropped the 100 percent conventional breakfast buffet with its abundance of small plastic-packages containing jams and spreads.
If you fancy a design hotel with (at least predominantly) organic breakfast in the very city centre there are three hotels of the Motel One chain, all in walking distance from each other.
The budget option if you can stay over night less central is the Home Planet hostel in Connewitz. They run washing machines and wireless on renewable energy, use eco cleaning agents, and seem to buy them from a package-free supermarket, Einfach unverpackt in the Südstadt neighbourhood. In the kitchen they use
organic milk and bake the bread themselves. Their Neapolitan chef directly imports olives and cheese from near organic farms in Italy, but although the breakfast is vegetarian and home-made the manager told me that using more organic produce would excel their price calculations. The reception recently moved a few steps in north-western direction, to the corner of Hammerstraße. There it takes the place of former bakery shop Nix Tonne which re-sold day-old bread and cakes and was turned into vegan-vegetarian cafe Cafe am Ende des Universums (alluding to "the restaurant at the end of the universe" by Douglas Adams) by the Home Planet folks.
Where to eat
I decided to combine my basic overnight stay with a luxury dinner at breathtakingly beautiful organic fine dining restaurant
Macis in the very city centre, a few steps from
Thomaskirche. The place aims to re-create the air of the great urban bars of the 1920s, and you will be waited at table in style. If you have the budget choose the menu, with impeccable wine selection on request. The food combining mediterranean traditions with local ingredients was an explosion of taste, with the most delicate grilled octopus I've ever had, and a perfectly balanced meat course (I admit I had difficulties to choose from the menu as the vegetarian courses were equally promising). Of course everything here is sustainably sourced, organic and to a great deal seasonal from local farms and suppliers. Make sure to use the bathroom as on the way, you will pass the ironwork of the house's historic lift (which unfortunately is taken out of service).
Lunch is less expensive, and during daytime you may also opt for a sandwich or coffee at the joint bakery cum cafe, or enter the beautiful Macis Biomarkt convenience store next door which stocks everything used in the restaurant kitchen and also offers salads made there.
I was pondering long whether I should list Café Central here -- as the city's foremost grand cafe back in the GDR it is an address to visit for its -- now of course completely exchanged and polished -- 1970ies-style interior -- or rather warn of greenwashing:
Although the menu advertises organic bread and focaccia (which wasn't available for breakfast), the eggs are no longer certified for reasons that clearly show that the managers have neither understood the goods of organic agriculture nor the basics of organic certification.
The only organic drink is tea (not even the milk for the coffee drinks is organic), the service unimpressing.
Just around the corner from the Macis restaurant you'll find the city's organic ice-cream maker, Tonis. Unfortunately I was too late after dinner and could only watch them closing. They also have a second branch in famous Könneritzstraße.
More to try
As I said before my time in Leipzig was limited (as was my upfront research) -- but here are a few more tips, for you to try (and tell me if you like):
[Leipzig, organic, breakfast, lunch, dinner, German, restaurant, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream, cafe, coffee, supermarkets, grocery, zero_waste, unverpackt]
Friday, 27 September 2019
One of the oldest cities in Germany, with roots back in Roman history, a rich medieval history -- including the world's oldest intact social housing project, the Fuggerei --, and the birthplace of Bertolt Brecht, one of the most influential writers in modern theatre, Augsburg is without doubt worth a visit. Conveniently located on the railway tracks between Munich and Nuremberg, urban trains ("Regionalbahn"/"Regionalexpress") from Munich central station depart twice an hour (at day time) and can be used with the Bayernticket flat-rate ticket for Bavaria which is the budget option if you plan to travel from and to Munich on one day (one way takes about 45 minutes). Augsburg is also an ICE/IC train stop: These high velocity trains will save you about a quarter of an hour on this route, but tickets usually come at a significantly higher price.
If you plan to stay overnight there's a pleasant fully organic hotel about three kilometers from the main train station, the
Bayerischer Wirt, a certified Bio Hotel
in the suburb of Lechhausen, yet easily accessible by tram and bus or bike.
Although the hotel is located directly at a noisy main road, the outdoor seating area in the backyard is a peaceful oasis. The hotel restaurant serves Bavarian meat and fish dishes as well as internationally inspired vegetarian ones -- with varying results: While the roasted meat was perfectly done (rare as requested, caramelized yet melting), and served with the most delicate onion crisps I've ever tasted, the strips of veal in mustard cream were quite bland and uninspired -- health food with boringly blanched veges and saltless (though home-made) spaetzle. Instead of ordering bottled mineral water you may fetch tap water from the water dispenser at no cost. Needless to say that all drinks are organic, too, and the aperitifs were a pleasant refreshment in the summer heat. The dessert menu is quite limited -- prefab organic ice-cream, home-made cakes and a parfait when I visited.
If a healthy local kitchen with liberal opening hours does not satisfy your expectations of a city vacation, there are two promising day cafes easily reachable for cyclists on the way from the main station to Lechhausen:
Café Himmelgrün near the
banks of the river Lech in Berliner Allee serves fully organic breakfast, lunch, coffee and cakes, and you can also find sustainable gifts and nice things. The cafe is run by Augsburg-based organic bakery Schubert -- you may have come across the name at the bakery counters of organic supermarkets, both in Munich, Nuremberg and elsewhere in Bavaria.
In front of the cafe's outdoor area the bakery has installed a mobile sales booth for bread, snacks and cakes of yesterday's production, from the quality control desks, with short best-before date or small blemishes, all sold at low fixed prices: A kilogram of bread for example comes at 3 EUR, yesterday's savoury snacks at 1 EUR the piece, and six pieces of cake at 7 EUR. Customers are encouraged to reduce waste and take home their purchase in their own bags or boxes. Unfortunately the booth dubbed Grünfux deluxe is closed in the afternoon as well as on Mondays and on weekends.
Augsburg's long history of textile fabric production, print and trade is reflected in the Bavarian State Textile and Industry Museum, less than 10 minutes from the inner city hotspot Königsplatz by tram no. 6. The museum's cafe dubbed
nunó (from the Japanese word for "cloth") is not only a charming spot in an impressive industrial building of a former spinning mill, but also predominantly and certified organic, serving light and internationally inspired lunch, breakfast and Sunday brunch, and of course a recreational coffee. Meat, bread, veges, and eggs are reliably organic and of regional origin if possible while drinks at the bar are still predominantly conventional. As most museums the place is closed on Mondays and -- except for special occasions -- in the evenings.
If you are so unfortunate to strand before closed doors the next organic supermarket with a small bistro -- a branch of the Denn's Biomarkt chain -- is located in walking distance.
In the backyard of St. Anne's church, the Annahof next to the fenced city market, the church parish gives host to a lively all-day cafe restaurant cum bar dubbed Anna with a great outdoor area, which is open in the evenings, too. The place serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch inspired by international kitchens. Once it was certified organic, but since it no longer is the restaurant is not allowed to advertise with organic ingredients. Nevertheless the managing director assured me that they were still using as much organic produce as before: both eggs, milk and most fruit come from organic
farms and distributors in the vicinity. On the menu
you'll find organic beer (Lammsbräu), on occasions organic wine (ask for it), lemonade (charitea) and ice-tea. For breakfast you can have
organic crunchy cereals, and
the bread comes from the Schubert bakery. Unfortunately meat products usually aren't organic. During the warm season the cafe sells organic ice-cream to take away in a biscuit cone, delivered by the Cramer's confectioner's. Only plain flavours like vanilla, chocolate, plan hazelnut and lemon were available in July 2019, the scoop at 1.50 EUR.
For 100 percent organic, crystal-sugar free, vegan ice-cream made with dates, cashew nuts and berries try Juice 'n Cream in the
Ulrichsviertel neighbourhood. The small shop uses renewable energies, and when hungry you may opt for a lunch bowl and a fruit juice.
For both, cooked and raw vegan lunch or dinner or a wrap, soup or salad in between head a little south to
Mom's Table, a fully organic vegan restaurant cum cafe. They also offer raw and no-bake cakes, freshly made juices, smoothies and plant-based shakes, coffee and tea as well as vegan organic wines. The
kitchen closes an hour before the restaurant.
For a no-frills coffee, snack or lunch you may also head for the self-service cafe at the city branch of the Basic organic supermarket chain
between the state theater and the cathedral.
Around the main train station -- bakeries
For last minute travel provisions you can buy an organic snack or sandwich at the Hofpfisterei bakery branch five minutes from the main train station. Unfortunately it's closed both on Saturdays and Sundays.
If you have ten more minutes you may also proceed to the
Schubert branch at the tram hub of
Königsplatz. There used to be a serviced day cafe but after some reconstruction work the area of the bakery shop has diminished to the sales counter and a small self-service area where you may sit down with a sandwich or snack. When the weather is nice there are also chairs and tables outside. The coffee drinks from the automatic machine could taste better, but everything is organic.
There's another Schubert branch inside the city market, around the corner from St. Anne's church (and you'll find another Hofpfisterei branch there, too).
[Augsburg, Augusta, organic, vegan, vegetarian, breakfast, lunch, dinner, Franconian, German, restaurant, eatery, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream, cafe, coffee, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries, zero_waste]
Saturday, 31 August 2019
If you are familiar with Johann Sebastian Bach's Coffee Cantata from around 1735 you've heard about the Saxonian citoyens' love for coffee and a good piece of cake (if heading for a local speciality, try the Eierschecke cheese-cake). With a pinch of irony people will talk about the famous Saxonian "Bliemschenkaffee" ("flower coffee") referring to the thin coffee or caffeine-free coffee substitute during World War II or in the households of the poor. The term refers to the fact that you could see the flowery ornaments on the ground of the (well, not in all cases) Dresden china coffee cup.
The Saxonian's love for coffee hasn't faded since, they still proudly refer to themselves as "Kaffeesachsen" (coffee Saxonians), and most organic supermarkets will serve you a latte or Italian style coffee, both to have on the spot, and to go (in this case don't forget your refillable cup).
There are however more pleasant places for a chat with friends, some reading or working time with a delicious cup of coffee.
With friendly service and a huge display of gorgeous cakes and pastries Die Kuchenglocke in Wilheminian Neustadt neighbourhood is reviving the tradition of Viennese style coffeehouses. Facing the beautiful, comparatively quiet square around Martin Luther church it is an extremely pleasant place to spend hours. The cakes are made by Dresden's furthermost organic bakery Heller, a true German bakery which was one of the first organic ice-cream makers in Germany. The young Heller generation running this beautiful cafe cum confectioner's shop proudly exclaim on the shop window's front that they are organic. Even if you have little time step by and have an ice-cream to go (1.50 EUR per scoop) or shop for sweets to take away.
The Hellers also fill the gap that nearby Cafe Continental at the crossroad Görlitzer Straße/Louisenstraße left when they stopped serving organic breakfast about three years ago: At the Kuchenglocke you can have breakfast all day long, too, and all organic. To have breakfast on late weekend mornings it's however advisable to order a table in advance as the place usually is quite crowded at that time. They also serve lunch.
If you travel with kids head for the room hidden behind the bakery counter -- you'll find toys and books and a pleasant sofa there.
Not far away, on Bautzner Straße, you will find Phoenix Kaffeerösterei, a small-scale coffee roaster cum coffee bar furnished in coffee-coloured wood -- ideal for the recreational sip of Italian style coffee. Their coffee is fairly traded, yet not organically certified, although they had organic coffee when they started up in 2006. The milk for a latte or New Zealand style Flat White however is organic. Mind you that their opening hours are quite restricted, usually to Friday and Saturday, but they often keep closed on Saturdays, too.
A ten minutes walk west, just before you reach Albert-Platz you can taste the Phoenix coffee all week long at the Oswaldz, a crowded coffee house cum gallery run by an ambitious young team. Before you sit down fetch a service number and put your order at the bar where you can choose from an impressive list of coffee drinks, among others a galao (coffee and milk frozzed together) or a gibraltar (double espresso macchiato). The milk they use is locally sourced and organic. You can also have a sandwich or cake partially made from organic ingredients -- eggs and cottage cheese are organic, flour and fruit are not, and since the friendly staff happily answered my questions I'm sure they will equally friendly answer yours. During the warm season they open a pleasant backyard for their guests.
If you head towards the shores of the river Elbe along Hauptstraße boulevard the Dreikönigskirche house of the church on the right hand side offers a quiet retreat from busy city life. On weekdays you can have a coffee, tea (both organic) and cake in the fair-trade Cafe Dreikönig within.
There's also a small range of usually organic fair-trade foodstuffs for sale.
Note that they are closed Saturday through Monday.
Facing Kreuzkirche on Altmarkt with its white-washed interior one of the few places where the wounds of the Anglo-American bombing by the end of World War II still are visible you will find one of Dresden's first organically certified eating places, cafe cum restaurant Aha. Some years ago they quite controversely decided not to prolong their certification in support of uncertified local farmers following organic or near-organic principles. More than 75 percent of the ingredients they use are still organically certified but they stopped (probably enforced by law) to make this transparent, so you have to enquire on specific ingredients if you care.
The cafe itself is equally popular among students, families and NGO groups. Its walls frequently serve as a gallery for local artists, and the daily menu often reflects and extends the exhibitions. The list of coffee drinks is long, ranging from oriental and Indian inspired spiced coffee to the ubiquitous espresso. If you prefer a cold drink it's alleviating to know that sodas are served with paper instead of plastic drinking straws. The cakes are delivered by the Heller family, but you can also enjoy hearty home-made meals throughout the day (til late), or simply help yourself at the salad bar located under the stairs. Breakfast is being served from 9 am. In the basement there's a well assorted
which cannot follow the restaurant's liberal opening hours and is closed in the evenings and on Sundays.
If you have to spent time in the vicinity of Dresden's central train station, Hauptbahnhof, pay a visit to another fair-trade shop, the Contigo at the Southern end of Prager Straße. Inside the shop there's an organic coffee bar, perfectly suited for the quick espresso in between, or while you're shopping for gifts, fairly traded artisanal work like bags and jewellery, tea, chocolates or coffee. They do not serve food, so you shouldn't come hungry. If you prefer an unconventional coffee drink opt a coffee based lemonade dubbed "Selosoda".
Not far from Bahnhof Mitte train station and the College of Music the organic co-operative VG runs a self-service Bistro & Backladen -- the bistro to the left, the cafe to the right of the entrance. While the lunch is prepared in the open kitchen of the bistro right at the spot, the bakery shop simply sells the cakes (and bread) from local organic bakeries both, to take away and to eat right here in the pleasantly decorated shop room prided with pictures of local artists. Unfortunately the coffee comes from a smale-scale automatic machine -- no real enjoyment, but drinkable due to the good ingredients.
While the bistro closes at 7pm on weekdays the cafe operates until 8 pm, but choice will be limited the later you'll come.
Near the Blaues Wunder bridge
A visit to the finest bridge in town, the Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") steel construction can easily be combined with a visit to the arguably finest Viennese-style coffee house in town, the Café Toscana. Observing the bridge and the river you can sit in the winter garden having an organic coffee drink or tea. Your organic latte will be poured together at your table. While a selection of soft drinks and wines, the milk and breakfast eggs are all organic none of the gorgeously looking cakes and confectionery to be ordered from the sales desk are, at least not fully (enquire about what's tempting you). The history of the coffee house named after a Saxon princess customer dates back to the end of the 19th century. Since its re-privatisation after Germany's re-unification it has been run by the Eisold family, a local baker's family now in its third generation.
Crossing the blue wonder bridge you'll reach Körnerplatz, and if you fancy a stroll along the river shore, turn left into historical Körnerweg which leads you towards the city centre along the embankment. A 15 minutes walk on the way you'll find Os2 – Café am Fluss, a summer cafe run by the Oswaldz owners serving coffee drinks with organic milk, organic soft drinks and cakes to passers-by on weekends during the nice season. Most seats are located outside providing a beautiful view over the river and the city's silhouette. As at Oswaldz order at the bar inside, find yourself a seat, wait to be served and pay before you leave. The bar room also serves as an art gallery.
If you ever happen to strand somewhere between the tower blocks of Prohlis and the Technical University, take the time to visit the city's only organic bakery and confectionery, the Bio-Bäckerei und -Konditorei Heller mentioned afore -- if only to have a wonderful ice-cream on the go. When the weather is nice they also have a small outdoor terrace for you to have a coffee and cake or snack.
Although the bakery is open on Sunday mornings it's closed on public holidays.
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
Weltcafe, Schillingstr. 7 (Löbtau)
[Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant]
Sunday, 18 August 2019
The rough and picturesque sandstone hills of Saxon Switzerland did not only inspire painters and componists of romanticism, but have been valued for centuries by both, alpinists as well as walkers and ramblers. Located at the border to the Czech republic it takes an urban train ride from Dresden (or a bicycle tour along the Elberadweg cycle route) to get here, either for a wee day out in the countryside or for a vacation inside the
If you get off the S1 urban train in direction Schöna at the
stop Hirschmühle Schmilka, and take the ferry to the Northern shore of the Elbe river you'll reach the village of Schmilka which, to a large degree, has been developed into an organic resort during the past years. The ferry is operated on demand, so simply go down to the landing stage and wait until the coxswain will see and fetch you.
The nucleus of the organic village is Hotel Helvetia which you will find, turning West (i.e. to the left), after a five minutes walk along the river shore. Its organic cafe and restaurant dubbed Strandgut ("stranded goods") serves both, the high quality no-frills salad for passers-by on a bicycle or walking tour as well as fine seasonal food drawing from both, the kitchen traditions of the region and the mediterranean. Both, vegans, fish and meat lovers are catered for with care, and if you are in the mood for a dessert, try the "Kalter Hund" ("cold dog") pudding made from cookies and chocolate, a children's favourite in former East Germany (though back then made with inferior ingredients). Unfortunately the cafe does not own a real Italian coffee machine, so the quality of the Italian-style coffee drinks is not as good as one would expect for a hotel in this category. If you stay overnight the hotel bar will however be able to provide you with a fully organic nightcap.
The hotel reception serves as check-in for all
eco-friendly overnight options in the village, among others
Villa Thusnelda next to the ferry stop with its luxury rooms.
The latter houses historical Café Richter with the air of a classical spa coffeehouse, but unfortunately it can only be booked as an event location.
A sign at the cafe will guide you to the
village's operating water mill, the Schmilk'sche Mühle further up the road in the direction of the forest, with its rustic mill restaurant, the Mühlenstube of Gasthof zur Mühle at the right hand side. Hearty local stews and soups (one vegetarian, one omnivore), pizza, bread and cake from the artisanal organic bakery opposite and tasty, heavy beer from the Braumanufaktur brewery which you cross on the way from the river are served here, either inside or in the beer garden. Depending on the weather and season you will have to order at the bar inside or from the outdoor food stall. Here you also can buy beer, bread and cakes to take home when the bakery next door is closed.
If you stay overnight in one of the rustic and lovingly restored rooms at the mill -- they have double rooms as well as family appartments -- you will have your breakfast at the Mühlenstube.
The bakery opens at dusk, and what hasn't been sold on closing time will be sold by the Mühlenstube. Opening hours of the brewery are restricted to the guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you stay within the resort a small tour inside the mill and the brewery is included in the package.
[Dresden, Bad_Schandau, Schmilka, Saechsische_Schweiz, Saxon_Switzerland, organic, vegan, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, cafe, bakeries, breweries, hotel, accommodation, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg]