The Organic Traveller
Wednesday, 05 September 2018

Munich: Organic coffee and tea houses

To find a self-respecting restaurant or supermarket snack bar not equipped with a restaurant-size Italian espresso machine can be difficult, and even the tiniest organic corner shop will try to offer you ubiquituous Italian-style coffee drinks. Likewise you can have organic tea bag teas and infusions of usually decent quality. But for the modern nomad on the job, the afternoon chat with friends or the traveller in search of a undisturbed place for a break or observations, the dedicated coffee or tea house is a far more appropriate place to spent hours. Common for all the places listed here that they are closed in the evening – usually around 6pm, some keep open until 8pm. Note that weekend opening hours may be even more restricted.

Viennese style coffee houses

The headline is misleading – even if an increasing number of cafes see themselves in the tradition of Viennese coffee houses when it comes to the stuccoed interior, the dark wooden furniture, a selection of daily newspapers as well as the menu, they will usually serve Italian-style coffee drinks. The perfect place for breakfast and a coffee break at any time of the day, you will also be served lunch and snacks throughout the day. Expect however to order more of the deliciously handcrafted cakes than you initially intended to.

My favourite is Cafe Reichshof in Haidhausen, covered in detail in my ice-cream post.

Organic to a much lesser degree – they promise to serve organic milk and eggs throughout their menu, i.e. also as ingredients in drinks, cakes and dishes – is Kafehaus Karameel in Neuhausen, opposite the terminal loop near tram stop Neuhausen. Romantically decorated on two storeys connected by a flight of winding stairs it's the perfect place to have a look at their impressive selection of daily newspapers, let time pass by and have a Viennese-style coffee. Crowded on weekends, so book your table in advance. During the warm season a generous number of outdoor tables overlooking the tram tracks and a little park will increase your chances.

Oriental style coffee

The best Turkish coffee in town is arguably made on Orleansplatz in Haidhausen. Iunu is a perfect place to meet a friend for a chat or have a recreational lunch or coffee break (they also serve espresso, cappuccino and latte). Some of the coffee, the milk and some staples like agave syrup are organic, but they use fewer organic ingredients now than in the past, especially the veges for vegetarian and ayurvedic lunch dish usually are not organic. What you get is nevertheless good wholesome food, with quite restricted use of herbs. If you rather feel for a chat with the owner have your seat at the coffee bar and enjoy her irresistible cakes. With a small but carefully chosen range of delicatessen the place will also save you when in need for an unplanned last minute gift. On Saturdays Iunu is often unexpectedly closed due to arrangements, so check in advance.

If you happen to come in vain, take the short walk along Breisacher Straße where another hidden gem, Saladins Souk will quench your thirst for an oriental style coffee.

Italian style bars

Pop in, have a coffee, a chat, a sweet, and pop out again – the Italian bar is the hotspot of a neighbourhood. And so is the Emilo coffee bar in the self-proclaimed Northern-most city of Italy, run by a small scale local coffee roaster of the same name. Though it is situated only a little walk from Isartor or party hotspot Gärtnerplatz in the hip Glockenbach neighbourhood it's mainly frequented by regulars whom the barista, Mr. Filser with his rustic Bavarian charme greets personally. Since only a selection of their coffees is organic you may wish to order organic coffees explicitely. They use organic milk throughout the menu, and the eggs and spelt flour used in their rustic and extremely yummy Bavarian home-made cakes are all organic, too (the only exception are the croissants made by a French bakery). Apart from Italian style coffee drinks you can also order cold brews and shop from the roasters coffee specialities. An insider's tip all worth the detour from your usual route through the city. Recently they also opened a new branch in Munich's Westend -- an important destination for all Oktoberfest visitors.

In the middle of humming Viktualienmarkt market North of the crossing Reichenbachstraße/Frauenstraße there's Kaffeerösterei Viktualienmarkt, a vibrant market booth with bar tables under a roof. So even if the weather is bad and you're outside there's no reason to give up plans for an Italian style coffee drink made with sustainably sourced (though not organically certified), locally roasted coffee. The milk is organic and comes from traditionally working mountain farms in the Berchtesgadener Land district, packaged by the co-operatively driven Berchtesgadener Land dairy which, in 2017, banned the use of glyphosate for all its farmers, not only the organic ones.

Shabby chic and homely places

You might expect this type of recycled art garden house furnished place in the university quarters, but here you are on Rosenheimer Platz, opposite the Vollcorner supermarket, to find Die Kaffee-Küche. A pleasantly mixed audience populates the chairs, tables and shelves partially made of wooden wine cases, and you may find that the place is popular among young mothers with prams. They use organic milk and partially organic coffee by a local coffee roaster, and before ordering a coffee drink to take away in a disposable beaker consider buying a bio-degradable dishwasher-prove multitrip cup right away. If you come with your own cup to take away your coffee or tea you will receive a discount of 0.50 EUR. On the menu are home-made cakes, sandwiches, salads and a soup dish, most of them suffering from the absence of organic ingredients. A generally nice retreat, especially recommended during the advent season while the Christmas market on Weißenburger Platz keeps open. (Their mulled wine and other warm alcoholic drinks are of superior quality when compared to the market booth fare.) Occasionally there are small concerts. Another nice service: The ladies' restroom will help you out with (conventional) hairspray, handcream, tampons and other toiletries if needed.

A much smaller, and (apart from the softdrinks) seriously organic cafe with do-it-yourself charm is just a five minutes walk away (although you have to cross busy Rosenheimer Straße): I'm covering the Cafe Plaisir social enterprise in my ice-cream post.

On your way from "Kaffee-Küche" to "Cafe Plaisir" directly located on Rosenheimer Straße is Emmi's kitchen, a small, decidedly vegetarian place offering smoothies, salads, stews and soups, coffee drinks and cake with a focus on locally sourced, predominantly vegan food. They use organic milk and brown sugar. More organic ingredients may be hidden (the apple used to decorate the yummy still warm vegan cinnamon roll I had was organic), but they won't promise anything. The place opened in summer 2016 and still is a hidden gem where you will easily find a place to sit down, read or work – more demanding customers may encourage a stricter organic focus. Since the cafe is directly facing the noisy and highly polluted street you may prefer a visit on cold days when the door usually is closed. The owners are still experimenting with their opening hours, so even though they advertise evening opening hours until 20 pm you might find the place closed earlier, especially on Saturdays. If you order by Deliveroo or come to take away without your own food container they fill your meal into disposable containers made from sustainable or recycled resources.

Not far from Ostbahnhof station Kosy*s cafe promises to be "your second living room". As long as you have some tolerance towards cake stands filled with kitschy sweets guaranteed free from natural colourings and a decidedly vintage feel you can have an organic tea or soft drink, a coffee drink made with organic milk, organic eggs and cereals for breakfast or a hearty lunch often entirely made from organic ingredients in a leisurely atmosphere. The good thing is that organic ingredients aren't shamefully hidden – when it's organic they'll make it transparent on the menu. The bad news: their homemade cakes unfortunately are not organic, not even the eggs.

Another cosy living room dubbed Zimtzicke is tucked away in comparatively quiet Elsässer Straße, this also just a five minutes walk from Ostbahnhof. All their teas, coffees, the milk and eggs are organic. Their lunch dishes, although mainly not organic, are tasty. However, when I enquired about the ingredients of the individual dishes on the menu, the staff wasn't able to tell whether they contained organic ingredients. The tiny place smells lovely of home-make cakes, some of them vegan. A perfect location to warm up after a winter walk in the city, and a pleasant retreat to welcome spring or to enjoy a summer day in the city on a table in front of it.

Another option to mingle with natives is a homely shabby chic neighbourhood cafe cum gallery in the neighbourhood of Au, on the Eastern shore of river Isar near Deutsches Theater. The audience of Café Käthe is mixed, coffee, milk, tea, rolls and cakes as well as most of the softdrinks are organic. They don't serve hot food, but you can have breakfast, sandwiches, cereals, and salads all day. Many but not all ingredients are organic, so ask if you care but be prepared that the service personnel isn't prepared to answer on the spot. Summer-closed until September, 6th 2018.

Big enough to almost guarantee a free seat for the visitor-by-chance is Cafe Katzentempel in the Maxvorstadt university quarter. You must however not suffer from a cat allergy as this rather special vegan place is inhabitated by six cats, and the once nice wallpaper on the wall with the scratch pole facing the entrance has already become rather shabby. Most of the softdrinks are organic as are all soy products and the cow milk (on request used for non-vegan coffee and tea-based drinks). The place offers an impressive range of organic nuts and grain milks to be ordered for your latte. The food and home-made cakes may include additional organic ingredients, although they aren't generally organic, just of local origin if possible. Students and apprentices are entitled special prices Tuesday through Friday, and free wifi is available. Depending on your table you may find the slightly aggressive sales presentation of the Katzentempel brand t-shirts disturbing – overall a place to either love or detest.

Another, for my likings cosier place to have a vegan latte is Siggis near Isartor which I reviewed here.

Muesli and more

On the Eastern edge of Viktualienmarkt, a few steps from Marienplatz you'll find the Munich branch of a very special chain – MyMuesli, a web order shop for organic cereals and porridges which keeps opening offline branches throughout the German-speaking countries. No cakes to be had here but Italian style coffee drinks, juices, and of course mueslis, porridges and cereals in case you are a little hungry or in need for an organic breakfast. The major aim of the shop is of course to sell their products but for a quick WLAN or coffee break in the busy heart of the city the functionally styled place isn't a bad option. They also have a second shop (offering free WLAN though without cafe) on ground floor of the Pasing-Arcaden mall in case you are stranded on München-Pasing train station.

Campus canteens

Balan Deli

If you happen to strand in the urban desert of office blocks between the tube stops of Karl-Preis-Platz and Sankt-Martin-Straße head for the Neue Balan campus, a former industrial area where in the past Siemens produced semiconductors. Quite centrally you'll find Balan Deli, a modern yet comfortably furnished day cafe run as a not-for-profit company providing fair employment for an inclusive team of people with and without handicaps. The cafe was founded by the nearby inclusive Montessori school and designed by a Hamburg based artist. You can have a healthy lunch, partially based on organic ingredients, or simply an organic coffee, tea, wine or soft drink, often sourced from local producers, in a pleasant environment. The bread for the sandwiches comes from a local organic bakery. Unfortunately the service staff is not very knowledgeable (yet) about organic and sustainably produced food (when I enquired about the milk they told me it was organic although they actually use the cheaper conventional product of the Berchtesgadener Land dairy which also offers an extended range of organic dairy products), but was happy to ask the kitchen staff about the origin of the chicken in the Thai curry (which was not organic).

Self-service coffee house chains

See here.

Tushita

Tea houses

For those seriously into tea the ultimate target in town is Tushita Teehaus in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, near the Western exit of tube station Fraunhofer Straße (and a five minutes walk South of Gärtnerplatz). To taste their around 150 organic and often fairly traded tea and tisane varieties (which aren't exhaustively listed on the menu) can take some time, but you can buy them to take with you. With every order the staff will hold a microscopic tea ceremony for you, and hot water for a second extraction is served in a small thermos aside. In the past they often used too hot water for some of their delicate green teas resulting in a bitter beverage, but this fortunately had changed to the better at my last visit. In addition they serve small vegan dishes as well as yummy home-made cakes, all organic, and there's a Japanese touch to both, the decoration, the food and the subtle focus on Japanese tea and matcha. Consequently the place is frequented by visitors of Japanese origin as well as the occasional Indian gentleman or the German hippie or university professor reading their daily. Given how frequented the place often is there's a quiet, pleasantly concentrated atmosphere to it.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2018-09-05 10:40:01 [Munich, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, Italian, Japanese] Link

Creative Commons Licence

This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Saturday, 01 September 2018

Munich: Organic and partially organic restaurants

To find a place for an organic lunch, snack or a coffee break, both served and self-served, requires not more than keeping your eyes open. But the cultured evening out or a sumptuous weekend brunch can be a challenge if you don't know where to head for.

If you opt for 100 percent organic food and drinks, without compromises, within the city boundaries the TL;DR reads: Cafe L'Amar and resihuber.

French

Given the French love for quality food one would expect all self-respecting French restaurants to use organic ingredients to a certain extent, but to actually find those which do proves to be harder than expected. In Munich head for brasserie La Bouche in Schwabing, a tastefully decorated place a few steps away from Münchner Freiheit. They promise to use organic ingredients throughout the menu, with three quite excusable exceptions: snails, seafood and Marsala wine.

In fact the exception list varies depending on daily supplies -- when I went there the lamb and the duck liver had been added -- but since it is all transparent and clearly stated on the menu you can adapt you order accordingly. The food itself is hearty French countryside fare, apart from the risottos (together with the Italian coffee the international touch to the menu) most dishes focus on meat or seafood. Since the main courses are very generous compared to other French restaurants, come hungry or skip the starter. In the meat-based stews we had -- coq au vin and an ox liver ragout -- the flavours of the ingredients were perfectly amalgamated and harmonic. The entrecote marinated in a pesto of fresh herbs -- although perfectly cooked rare -- however, did not live up to expectations, too perfumed, too imbalanced (and way too big) for my taste. Although the side dishes -- salads, stewed root vegetables, fried potatoes, and similar -- clearly play a supporting role they were well done and tasty. And the baguette served together with the starters was clearly one of the best I ever had.

Sadly the wines aren't organic, the soft drinks however are, and the bar offers organic pastis, gin and vodka. Note that the place is closed on Sundays.

German/Bavarian

With its rustic and cosy flair and garden tables under horse chestnut trees during the warm season Zum Kloster in the heart of the former village of Haidhausen a short walk from Wiener Platz makes the perfect surrounding for a laid-back chat with friends. They serve a selection of organic non-alcoholic beverages and up to three dishes on their meat-centric menu are marked as made with organic meat, eggs and flour, one of them being Spaghetti Bolognese. What a couple of years ago was simple, but perfectly eatable turned to be spoiled with what tasted like a conventional prefab seasoning so that I avoided the place for the last year. When I gave it a try yesterday it turned out that they obviously had a new chef: Both the liver on salad as well as the goulash stew were good home-made fare. Only the salad should better not have been as soaked in rapeseed oil as it was.

If heading for the classical Bavarian Wirtshaus -- rustic, but certainly missing the air of the students' and artists' pub present in "Zum Kloster" -- the Klinglwirt at the opposite end of Haidhausen near Rosenheimer Platz is the place to go. They serve organic meat from the nearby farm in Herrmannsdorf, organic cheese, bread, coffee, tea as well as Cramer's ice-cream. Unfortunately the side-dishes -- mainly potatoes, dumplings, sauerkraut, red cabbage and rustic salads -- usually are not organic, and there are no organic cold beverages on offer which is a pitty as it destroys the overall positive experience. The one notable exception is a delicious organic lager dubbed "Dachauer Schlossbräu", an organic brand of the Anheuser-Busch subsidiary Löwenbräu-Spaten, which goes perfectly well with the Klingwirt meat dishes. It does not appear on all menus yet but the friendly and helpful staff knows about it. Little guests are welcomed warmly, among others with a decent menu of their own (most kids will accept happily that the dishes listed there are almost free of greens). The restaurant is a member of Green Chefs, a network of eco conscious and socially responsible chefs.

For the 100% organic experience of Bavarian cuisine take the tram no. 25 from Rosenheimer Platz to its end station in the suburb of Grünwald. A five-to-ten minutes walk from there you'll find the only organic hotel in reach, Alter Wirt, with its rustic, yet up-market restaurant. Children are welcome and often allowed a visit to the kitchen, but the place is spacious enough that occasional little guests won't spoil your romantic candle-light dinner. There's a beergarden under horse chestnut trees, and the entire place is a real oasis in suburbia. On offer is the meat- and fish-centric Bavarian Sunday menu completed with dishes of Italian origin. The food is extremely tasty, home-made, yet peppered with pleasant little twitches of ambitious chefs. Not the place for vegetarians, but if you happen to be the only vegetarian in a group of omnivores, there's a tasty meal in for you as well. In addition they offer a range of assorted organic spirits.

Schweinsbraeu

The Herrmannsdorf farm mentioned above has its own upmarket 100% organic restaurant, the Wirtshaus zum Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu, for meat lovers definitely worth the troubles of getting there -- an up to 1.5 hours affair (one-way) by public transport from Ostbahnhof station. Take a regional (faster) or urban train (S4) to Grafing Bahnhof, continue with bus no. 440 to Westerndorf, and walk about ten to 15 minutes over the fields to the farm. The rustic and newly refurbished restaurant offers high-standard traditional Bavarian cuisine based on freshest ingredients including the farm's famous own beer and assorted spirits. If you are wondering what you are going to eat stroll through the farm and greet the pigs and piglets. During the warm season you can also sit outside under horse chestnut trees, and if you happen to forget the time and your food shopping, there's a beautiful delicatessen cum supermarket in another farm-house opposite the restaurant. It is advised to book your table a few days in advance, and mandatory if you come on the weekends when the farm gives host to its traditional arts and crafts markets (in May, before Easter and Christmas). Especially the advent market is a pleasant alternative to the commercial Christmas markets in town. On market days a free bus transfer is provided from and to Grafing Bahnhof.

Goldmarie

At tube stop Poccistraße in Sendling, just across the street from the Vollcorner branch in Lindwurmstr. 80 the Goldmarie restaurant serves classical and modern versions of seasonal Bavarian, Austrian and North-Italian dishes -- quite palatable, but also a little boring. It's very obvious that the quality of the ingredients makes the difference here rather than the skills or visions of a chef: Usually the meat is organic and -- in this case -- marked "bio" on the menu. The veges are often organic, too, though not marked. Not organically certified meat and greens come from small-scale conventional farms in the region. Unfortunately the drinks (except for the gin and the herb tonic water) aren't organic. The place itself is often quite crowded, and for those who come to stay over night in Munich there are rooms available above the restaurant.

How contemporary Bavarian cuisine may look and taste like is being celebrated at the resihuber, the new ambitious 100 percent organic restaurant project of the Vollcorner founders near tube stop Brudermühlstraße. resihuber Locally sourced ingredients are being combined and transferred into classy seasonal dinner and lunch courses by a skilled team of chefs -- more advanced in the evening, easier Italian-style for lunch. If you stay in the vicinity step by for a hearty, very palatable breakfast. Both, vegetarians, vegans and omnivores are catered for whole-heartedly, and the interior keeps a low contemporary profile, making it an inviting place for both, the casual visitor and the connoisseur. The restaurant is named after Resi Huber, a local peace activist and anti-fascist who died at the age of almost 80 in 2000.

They advertised "Highclass organic food" in the 2015 print issue of Spy city guide, and you will find them listed as organic on the web, too, but when I rang them up the staff ensured me repeatedly: No, we do not use organic ingredients. Since they themselves do not mention the word "bio" neither on their German website nor on the menu it's likely that lack of command of the English language lead to this misconception. So even though Roecklplatz restaurant is a socially responsible enterprise employing young apprentices in difficult life situations and/or without formal education and thus deserves support, I can't recommend it in this guide.

Seven years ago this blog would also have featured the Ratskeller townhall restaurant at Marienplatz: Back then they had a separate organic menu. What is left of it today are organic fried potato patties ("Reiberdatschi"), spaetzle, some organic juices and softdrinks. But since this meat-centric restaurant does no longer serve any organic meat, I do not feel like recommending the place anymore.

Indian

Finding decent Indian restaurants in Munich can be hard but for delicious South-Indian Dosai and Nepali/Tibetan Momos you don't have to travel far: In the vicinity of the Pinakotheken art museums you'll find pleasant Deli Dosa eatery which, in the evening, turns into Picnic restaurant, then with the entrance next door. Most items on the menu (among them curries, Thai-inspired salads or -- at lunch time -- wraps) are dedicedly fusion but the potato dosa or the lamb-filled momo brings easily back memories from travels to the subcontinent. Meat, softdrinks and juices are all organic, and it is likely that other ingredients in the kitchen occasionally are organic, too. When asked about the latter the publican however would not commit himself stating that his emphasis was on freshly made food prepared from scratch from locally sourced ingredients. The result is definitely worth an evening out or a (hopefully extended) lunch break, for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike.

International

Not a single word on their menu suggests that Miss Lilly's kitchen in Giesing prefers organic ingredients. But when tasting their huge and extremely yummy home-made burgers or Wiener Schnitzel it's perfectly reasonable that not only the meat (as confirmed by the staff) but also a good deal of the side-dishes are at least partially organic. Although vegetarians are catered for it's very obvious that Miss Lilly's chef prefers meat and does it perfectly. If you come with kids and ask for fries they will be served huge portions -- so don't order too many. The place near tube stop Kolumbusplatz is famous for their American Cheesecake (I didn't feel for dessert after a sumptous dinner and rather opted for a -- proper Italian-style -- coffee) and serves breakfast until 5 pm.

In the South-Eastern part of Giesing, near congested Tegernseer Landstraße yet tucked away in a pleasant neighbourhood at Alpenplatz you will find another rustic place, Das Edelweiß. Since it started as an organic restaurant about six years ago you will still find business cards and references describing it as organic, and you can still order organic softdrinks. Unfortunately the concept did not work out, and the focus has shifted from organic towards supporting local and small-scale businesses. Some of the ingredients such as the milk of the Sternenfair brand are produced according to near-organic principles, the tasty artisanal bread may sometimes be made from organic flour, if you come for breakfast on weekends you can have organic chocolate spread, maple syrup and hot chocolate, but you should rather expect artisanal conventional food. When I questioned the owner about it she assured me that she's trying to find a new chef with love for local and seasonal high-quality food, and hopefully a renewed focus on organic principles will follow.

A dedicated family restaurant in the queer and hip neighbourhood of Glockenbachviertel dubbed Kaiser Otto is the place in Munich closest to the cafe latte moms cliche. You may step by for a coffee break during the day, or have breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner while your kids may disappear to a dedicated playground room next to the cafe. The latter is however closing at 7 pm; during weekend brunch (10 am to 2pm) you can leave them in the care of a kindergarden teacher for a fee of 2,50 EUR per half an hour while finishing off tasty though not elaborate food often made from at least partially organic ingredients. Reliably organic items on the menu are coffee, eggs, bread, a selection of soft drinks as well as the meat served with one of the dishes to have for dinner. Greens, veges and pulses may or may not be organic, so you have to enquire, meat items served until 3 pm are definitely not.

The contrary of a family restaurant, i.e. a decent (American-style) bar cum burger restaurant is The Potting Shed near Münchner Freiheit, a few steps from Brasserie La Bouce. Instead of french fries you're served yummy rosemary-flavoured potatoes, instead of prefab mayonnaise delicate home-made aioli, and the coleslaw was crisp, showing off the (organic) quality of the cabbage. The top of my burger bun was caramelised, adding an interesting twist to the taste, and the patty, announced as medium, still gorgeously pink. Unfortunately they do not do rare burgers which indicates that the meat is minced in advance. All meat products come from a organic-only local butchery, and the delicacy of the food indicates that most of the vegetarian ingredients are organic, too. For those not feeling like having a sumptuous high-calory burger plate (there's one veggie option) there was a tasty seasonal salad (with goat cheese) and a range of tapas, mezze and small starters, decidedly omnivore. Unfortunately the rich bar sports only a few organic drinks, namely an organic Cabernet Sauvignon, The Duke and Lyonel gins (the latter made a nicely balanced jasmin-tea flavoured gin and tonic) and fairly traded cachaça. Soft drinks including the tonic water however aren't organic at all. The bar itself values traditional bar etiquette: an observant yet not obstrusive waiter (who took care of our jackets when we came in), a skilful professional barman, pleasant background music at a volume allowing for effordless conversation (though I cannot say anything about the noise on a Friday or Saturday night), the walls adorned with interesting and tasteful art. Definitely recommended for a civilised evening out.

Italian/Mediterranean

As far as I know there's only one 100 percent organic restaurant in Munich, L'Amar, in the Glockenbach neighbourhood. Crammed and cosy with a cellar vault for small concerts and play readings they serve lovingly home-made Italian food and arguably the best restaurant-made risotto in town, exceptionally prepared meat as well as an (often ayurveda inspired) vegan dish. Vegetarians and vegans are catered for with the same care and love as omnivores, and their wines, cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks, coffee and cakes are simply delicious. Their short menu usually changes daily, and during the weekend you can indulge yourself in a sumptuous breakfast.

Mix the interior of a trattoria in Italy with a Bavarian Wirtshaus, and you'll end up with Hostaria Rò e Buni, a certified organic Italian restaurant in the heart of Schwabing. The name alludes to the dialect words used in the area of Bologna to steer bullocks to the left and to the right, and the tasty food served here has its roots in the country kitchen of the Emilia Romagna - not too fancy, hearty, receiving its fulfilling taste from high quality organic ingredients, many of them (especially the meat) sourced from farms in the greater region. Unlike in many other certified restaurants almost all ingredients are organic indeed, those coming from conventional agriculture are clearly marked with a star on the menu. Vegetarian and vegan drinks and dishes can be easily distinguished by a leaf or flower label, respectively. Although the owner has Italian roots don't order a four course menu (antipasti, pasta, primo e secondo) a la carte unless extremely hungry -- the sizes of the dishes are adapted to the German habit of ordering a pasta or main course and perhaps a starter. If you feel Italian stick to the four course tasting menu suggested by the menu, or discuss with the affable publican. Don't leave without having tried their fresh home-made pasta, and an organic grappa to finish. If you fancy slow-cooked Italian meat classics like Osso Buco -- here's the place to try. The kitchen closes half an hour before closing time, and the place itself keeps open evenings only.

Max Trenta

A hidden gem in very upmarket locations, quietly located in a backyard of Maximilianstraße next to the Kammerspiele theater is Max Trenta, a small Italian restaurant with an open kitchen where organic ingredients, often from small-scale farms, are frequently used, though neither promised nor advertised on the menu. Some of the courses are Italian dishes well-known outside Italy but since the friendly owner values the kitchen of his childhood his guests are so fortunate to taste Sardinian specialities like the fregula pasta type and the typical pane guttiau crisp bread which is served as an appetizer. Unfortunately these crackers tasted very bland, not comparable with the organic ones readily available in Munich's organic groceries. The extremely tasty and characterful natural open wines come from a Sardinian winery co-driven by one of the owner's relatives but aren't organically certified. In the summer you can sit outside where there's a little space for kids. Note that the kitchen closes already at 9pm.

No bosses and driven by consensus: Its unusual organization qualifies the Neuhausen based restaurant cooperative Ruffini for a recommendation on its own. Their Italian and Mediterranean food looks and tastes like mother's -- it is prepared with love though without the ambitions of a trained restaurant chef. Although they cater for vegetarians and omnivores alike only meat and eggs are organic. Which is sad -- the Imam Bayildi I had tasted bland as the eggplants did not have the concentrated flavour of organic ones. On the contrary their home-made croissants -- organic or not -- are without doubt worth a sin: You'll have to travel far to find equally full-flavoured ones, so take away (or come to shop at their bakery a few meters away). Have an organic ice-cream for dessert -- during the warm season it's also offered to take away.

Japanese/Sushi

With the explosion of sushi take-aways you may have to kiss many frogs on the quest for sushi worth its name. Arguably one of the best sushi restaurants in Munich is the Sushiya Sansaro in the Amalienpassage backyard passage in Maxvorstadt, a three minutes walk from the Northern exit of the Universität tube stop. As you might expect from a restaurant with love for -- in this case -- Japanese -- food they use some organic ingredients (eggs, spinach and pork for example), the soy sauce is organic and you can order organic beer with your meal. The menu does not stop with sushi, instead you can get a good impression of the Japanese kitchen, both in its vegetarian and its meat-based variety. The place itself is pleasant but often crowded. If you cannot get a reservation do not dispair: You can also order by phone and step by to take away.

Lebanese

See here.

Mexican

Blitz

The latest enterprise of prominent Munich publican, club manager and cooking book author Sandra Forster, herself a vegan, is the Blitz ("lightning") club located within the entrance building to the Museumsinsel island housing Deutsches Museum, the congress hall finished in 1935, formerly used as a cinema. Attached to the club is a Mexican-vegetarian restaurant, with dancing skeletons in colourful costumes adorning the walls. During the warm season enjoy a sugar cane cocktail and yummy fajitas or quesadillas, on a peaceful terrace outside facing the river Isar. About 80 percent of all ingredients used in the kitchen are organic and -- if possible -- sourced from farms in the greater Munich area. Exotic ingredients difficult to find in organic quality usually make an exception. If you want to avoid eggs and dairy products (which come from animal-friendly farms) do not hesitate to request a vegan meal.

Vegan/Vegetarian

My favourite vegan place, the Gratitude in the humming University quarter of Maxvorstadt, is fully organic when it comes to food and non-alcoholic beverages. While in the beginning the food was simple -- raw or inspired by ayurveda -- and sometimes a little bland, the kitchen has improved vastly since, reaching the level of Munich's legendary first (though no longer existing) vegan restaurant Zerwirk. They serve delicious cakes for dessert, and, fortunately, started again to offer lunch, although they are no longer open for an afternoon latte with soy or almond milk. For your evening out be aware that the cocktails aren't organic.

A few steps from Isartor, next to a branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic you'll find Siggis vegan and fresh food, a 100% vegan place that from the outside looks like a coffee bar. In fact you can step by for a (cup) cake, vegan latte, organic coffee (in a recup.com retour cup if you're in a hurry) or partially organic sandwich, but the appearance is misleading: If you enter and follow the narrow aisle you'll be surprised to find yourself inside a small cellar vault restaurant perfectly suited for a romatic dinner. The kitchen uses a good deal organic ingredients for the quite casual menu offering pasta, sandwiches, bowls, and a few international main dishes. Most drinks are organic, though if you have a latte and specify your favourite vegan milk alternative be aware that the lupin milk isn't. Ask if unsure whether any of the ingredients are organic -- the stuff is helpful and willing to enquire in the kitchen if they don't know. Unfortunately the place isn't open late night, its kitchen closes at 9 pm.

A third vegan restaurant is the Max Pett near Sendlinger Tor, run by a former Zerwirk chef. Unfortunately it's only partially organic, which is probably why the kitchen does not live up to expectations. The place is 100 percent non-alcoholic.

On a special occasion you may treat yourself with classy declinations of seasonal, predominantly organic vegetables at Gault Millau and Michelin awarded vegetarian restaurant Tian opposite Viktualienmarkt. For dinner you may choose between a vegan and a vegetarian set menu consisting of four, five, or six delicate courses. Alternatively you can order the items individually as well as combine your meal with (not necessarily organic) wines specially selected by the sommelier to match the course. Keep in mind that a single course is not meant to be filling -- the combination of several small dishes taking your time will however not leave you hungry in the end.

Juices and most of the soft drinks are organic. For a gourmet restaurant the place is frequented by a pleasantly mixed audience, but the interior has been designed to give you an undisturbed dining experience. Prices on the menu are indicated by naked integers and include the service of professionally trained waiters. If your budget does not allow for dinner (a five-course dinner including complimentary amuse-gueules is at 60 EUR without drinks) try to have lunch (19 EUR for three courses), it's a fascinating experience to taste what you can make of ever so boring veges like cabbage or beetroots.

The Tian cocktail bar (the place is a hotel restaurant) adjacent to the restaurant uses organic juices, but the alcoholics are not organic, not even the gin. Note also that the restaurant is closed on Sundays.

Another fully vegetarian, vegan-friendly restaurant is the Blitz described above.

Vietnamese/Asian Fusion

Crisp and delicately spiced instead of greasy and cooked to death, this is how the Fei Scho eateries serve Vietnamese food with a Bavarian touch ("Fei scho" is a Bavarian dialect phrase indicating that the counterpart in a conversation should have known/done/recognised something already). There are two of them, both small restaurants, one near Rosenheimer Platz and the older one in the centrally located Glockenbach neighbourhood. The menu is small, consisting of a handful of rice and noodle dishes, as well as Vietnamese veg parcels. A few ingredients (namely eggs, chickpeas, and, during the summer, carrots, red cabbage, coriander as well as celery) are organic (unfortunately neither the meat nor the tofu), along with all the wines, the iced tea, the apple juice and the gin and tonic. The service at the Haidhausen restaurant however was slow and forgetful in our case, missing orders as well as the table booking (by phone only). So make sure you're not in a hurry, the food is worth not to be missed.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down, were replaced by other, not organic ones, or are (temporarily?) closed. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2018-09-01 20:30:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Sendling, Schwabing, organic, lunch, dinner, market, deli, coffee, hotel, accommodation, restaurant, Asian, Bavarian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Sardinian, Vietnamese, vegan, vegetarian] Link

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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Dresden: Organic coffeehouses

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.

Oswaldz 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 fair-trade shop 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".

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.

Oswaldz 2 -- Cafe am Fluss 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 center 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.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2018-08-28 12:30:00 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant] Link

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Sunday, 26 August 2018

Dresden: Organic pubs and restaurants

Forget about sushi, pizza, pasta, burgers, curries and other globalized commonplaces -- in Dresden it's much easier to find hearty home-cooked dishes made from locally sourced ingredients rooted in local and regional food traditions. This does not necessarily mean German -- mind you that the borders with Czechia and Poland are close, so many menus reflect influences rather from Eastern than Western or Southern European cuisines. Many dishes include meat, yes, but all the places I am covering here have a decent selection of tasty vegetarian options readily available.

The most sophisticated ones in town may be had at Lingner restaurant on the premises of the neoclassical German Hygiene Museum ("Deutsches Hygienemuseum") marking the Western end of the 1x2 kilometres spanning inner-city park areal of Großer Garten ("Great Garden"). While you can step by for an Italian-style coffee drink (made with organic milk) and organic cake or a snack after a visit to the medical museum this is ways from the usual low quality self-service refectory to be found in many museums. They serve simple but decent lunch, all meat and meat products come from a local organic butcher's, the bread (though not the ice-cream which isn't organic) from an organic bakery in town, and many veges are also locally sourced and organic. Dinner starting at 5:30 pm is more sophisticated, and often thematically extending a current exhibition at the museum. While the outdoor terrace is popular during the warm season, dinner time during the winter season featuring a stylishly presented all-you-can-it buffet is perfect if you prefer it less crowded. When it comes to drinks both tea, milk, juices and some soft drinks as well as all spirits printed in dark-green font on the menu are organic. There's however no organic wine on offer (although a good selection of local ones). Due to the somewhat remote location call in advance if you plan to arrive after 9 pm.

Planwirtschaft About ten minutes brisk walking from Hygiene-Museum will lead you to Cafe Aha (just across Kreuzkirche) which is covered here. Even longer west, facing the modern building of the University of Music in Schützengasse you may be surprised to find a small island of baroque buildings with a wild garden, housing the city's environmental center, and a great disappointment: The cosy rustic wholefood restaurant on ground flour dubbed Brennnessel ("stinging nettle") once used organic ingredients and still can be found listed as an organic restaurant, but alas! -- no more.

For rustic food and surroundings head for one of the oldest independent pubs in town, the Planwirtschaft ("planned economy") in the Neustadt neighbourhood, popular since its beginnings as an illegal pub in the late GDR. On mezzanine level they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as coffee and cake while the basement houses a pub which opens in the evening. When it comes to their supplies they focus on buying from local farms and enterprises as the (unfortunately not organic) independent butcher's directly across the street or a tea shop next door from which they also source the organic teas on offer. The goat cheese is always organic. They used to have an organic meat dish (which was marked as "bio" on the menu), but unfortunately no longer. Have a tasty organic apple cider (no more organic beers at my last stay), and ask about organic ingredients.

If you take the urban train number 2 from the Neustadt train station, either on the way to the airport or to a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide, get off Bahnhof Klotzsche (one stop before the airport) and have breakfast, lunch, tea or a snack in its 110 years old railway station. Since the folks of Vorwerk Podemus took over and restored the historical building in 2015 it has been home to a bicycle shop, an artist's studio, an organic supermarket, and the now fully organic station restaurant dubbed Bio-Bahnhofswirtschaft with its pleasant beergarden. On Friday evenings from 5 pm the place also serves dinner or, May through September, a barbecue. Make sure to arrive well before 9pm as the kitchen keeps closing at this time. Travellers and ramblers may be glad to hear that they can fetch an organic breakfast or packed lunch on the go, though unfortunately not on Sundays as the restaurant is closed that day.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2018-08-26 22:30:00 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Schmilka near Dresden: An organic day out in Saxon Switzerland

The rough and pittoresque 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 National park. 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.

Villa Thusnelda

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 fine seasonal food drawing from the kitchen traditions of the region. If you stay overnight the hotel bar will be able to provide you with an 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 a certified all organic, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant and cafe, historical Café Richter with its air of a classical spa coffeehouse. Here they serve organic pasta, crepes and light lunches as well as tarts, cakes and (vegan) ice-cream made by the confectionery in house.

Schmilk'sche Mühle

Off-season (and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) when the cafe is closed a sign 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. Order at the bar inside where you also can buy beer as well as bread and cakes to take home.

Mühlenstube

The bakery itself is open to the public, opening at dusk, and what hasn't been sold on closing time will be sold by the Mühlenstube. Opening hours of the brewery however are restricted to the guided tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you stay overnight at the mill (or another place within the resort) a small tour inside the mill and the brewery is included in the package.

2018-08-15 09:16:00 [Dresden, Bad_Schandau, Schmilka, Saechsische_Schweiz, Saxon_Switzerland, organic, vegan, coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub, cafe, bakeries, breweries, hotel, accommodation, ice-cream] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.