For those evenings when you don’t fancy Japanese, Chinese, Italian, American, Thai, or Indian. When you’re bored of gastro-pubbing or when you feel the staff at your favourite tapas place are embarrassingly familiar with your favourite small plates. It’s time to visit a German restaurant, for an underrated type of cuisine. Since visiting we are now perpetually googling places to enjoy German dishes. A list of food markets await us – thank you German Gymnasium.
The restaurant itself is not at all what we expected. A renovated gymnasium, built in the 1800s, we’re told as the waiter leads us up the large, stairs towards the cocktail bar. The delicate scent of orange spray, minty leaves and something-like bergamot lingers in invisible clouds around the bar stools. Refreshing and so tantalising. It’s glamorous, sleek and monochrome. Waiters and waitresses are immaculately dressed in black and white too. Presented with my Kent’s Jelly Bar cocktail, complete with edible jasmine blossom and his Das Beste cocktail, a combination of sweet citrus flavours, balsamic vinegar and a light apricot foam, we clinked glasses and looked out across the bar’s balcony down onto all of the Grand Cafe’s diners. It looks as if we are overlooking a scene from a film; somewhere among the diners perhaps there is a couple with a dramatic, beautiful story. Perhaps.
Draining the last dregs of our cocktail (both of which we agree were unusual, but that we would enjoy them again) we took to the stairs to be led out onto the terrace – alfresco dining edging the restaurant. Again, something feels film-like about the scene outside as couples look, laugh and talk over forkfuls of food, or wine glasses of rose, poised in the air.
Our waiter kindly suggests white wines to go with our starters. I choose the Smoked Salmon with potato rosti and horseradish cream so I am paired with a dry white, to cut the fattiness of the salmon. When it arrives his Goulash Soup smells delicious and for a moment I wish I had ordered it, but the crisp rosti is so satisfying; I clean up the radish cream with the salmon without any further regret.
Our second course comes with a fresh, new choice of white wine – a Riesling. We both order the 42 day aged Scotch Beef Rib Eye Steak – a first in our relationship, as ordering the same limits sharing options – but again we have no regrets. We share sides of creamed spinach and triple cooked chips, soaking up the meat’s red wine jus with the crisp fluffy goodness until our very last bite.
Dessert is often a take-it-or-leave it for me but I order the Rote Grutze – the promise of vanilla custard and sweet berries, too good to resist, whilst his eyes sparkle at the sight of his ‘Triple chocolate & toffee coupe’. It’s impressive but with caramelised popcorn and chocolate crumble the challenge is a pleasure. Silence during dessert on date night is never awkward, only a sign of appreciation of good food.
For more information please visit www.germangymnasium.com/