Sunday, 20 March 2011

Ritterburg: Thumbs Up

Last weekend I had a dream. To spend a sunny day vegetating in the beer garden of a country pub I had read and been told many good things about. My understanding was that this place was practically picked out of the British country side and placed into the Greek one.

The weather on Sunday was perfect. The sun was out and the temperature was one click cooler than a warm spring day: perfect for a motorbike ride into the country. I had assembled up the gang and we were ready to hit the road when it occurred to someone to phone up - just in case. Turns out, what I hadn't been informed was that it was closed on Sundays and Mondays, and only open after 7pm on other days of the week. Seriously now, no British country pub would be caught dead closed on a sunny day, even more so if that day was Sunday? FAIL!

So instead we turned our attention to a German Beer House with a beer Garden called Ritterburg - and how glad am I that things turn out this way, because if they hadn't I would't have discovered a contender for the heavy weight title of best German food in Athens.

Staring from the outside and working our way inside one can tell that effort has been put into creating a rustic warm environment using wood and stone to create a welcoming feeling. The result is different than I have seen in other beer houses and gives more of a cozy family feel. I liked this, but I can understand that someone with their mind set on the novelty of drinking 5 litres of bear out of a tall plastic tube with a tap attached to it may not - but honestly they're tourists and I'm a foodie. Either way really, the ambience of the place was just a side bonus to me compared to the main course which was the food.

On the down side the bear garden (actually it was more of a patio- not a bad thing, just as a matter of fact), wasn't set up. However I can't really blame them: the good weather was just a freak day after a week or so of bad weather that included snow!

We ordered our beer (out of a very good selection) to start with while we looked through the food menu. Everything looked amazing so it was to our good fortune that the service of the place was also up to scratch! Our waiter was very useful in helping us decide what to get! We concluded on fried breaded mushrooms, a selection of sausages and a pork schnitzel with mushroom sauce to start with and then we all had a veal schnitzel for a main (I know - we should have had more mains and shared in order to try different things - but no one was willing to give up THEIR schnitzel).

And then, the food arrived, and to be honest it wasn't what I had hoped for - it was a whole lot more! I mean I have tried allot of German sausages and I like them all - so much so that never have I stopped after a bite to say 'mmmm that sausage was special'. That happened with the cheese filled bacon wrapped fried sausage: it was seriously good. And the fried breaded mushrooms: they were so crunch on the outside and so juicy on the inside! They made me think that it's not a recipe I'm missing out on, but that there exists a whole cooking technique that I'm clueless about! The pork schnitzel was slightly on the thin side in relation to the breadcrumbs that covered it, but just as delicious - especially once it had been given time to absorb the sauce! And these positive delicious vibes I was getting weren't even because I was hungry, because I wasn't! Not counting the Brazilian Churrascaria I had been to the night before, I'd already scuffed down two delicious warm bread rolls with whipped butter spread all over their delicate interiors.

And then the veal schnitzels arrived. You think your taste buds are on the verge of a orgasmic extravaganza when something comes along and sends them into a rampant frenzy! I'm not talking gourmet nonsense. None of that sauces made from stocks and 50 different ingredients reduced for two days with fifteen kilos of bones going into one serving the size of a ping pong ball. I'm talking real, fresh, authentic hearty food. There's no other way to describe it - except of that the schnitzel was about the size of a baby cow (just an added bonus!).

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