Despite some improvements the last decade, and hifalutin, as fickle as the weather press write-ups, Germany is not what one could call a gastronomic paradise. Certainly not when restaurants attempt to be, well... internationally gastronomical. Matters become quite different, however, when German restaurants and inns stay close to their regional roots. Meaning, when they offer their guests real German food, as varied, solid and tasty as the many beautiful German regions. At the risk of digging up a cliché, it is when German restaurants remain down to earth that they (sometimes) reach cuisine heaven.
One excellent example is the Mannheim's Henningers Gutsschänke. Rarely, if ever have my dining companions and I been presented with such quality in the Rheinland-Pfalz region, a "land" that I happen to know quite well. We tasted the Pfalz specialities rich in various "Knödel" (dumplings) and meats, among which the for many foreigners repulsive sounding "Saumagen" (pig's stomach), which the erstwhile German chancellor Helmut Kohl delighted in serving his foreign colleagues. In fact, it's simply a delicious if slightly too fatty fried sausage, with no trace of innards.
As a starter, our dining companion chose snails, while my partner and I preferred the far more German marrow dumplings consommé. As a main course came an assortment of Pfalz specialities (sausage, pig's stomach and liver dumplings cooked with house-made sauerkraut) for my companions, while I had a seasonal dish which you truly only can find in West and North Germany, at least in that form, in autumn : chanterelle mushrooms in cream, accompanied by yet another sort of lard and flour dumplings, cooked in a napkin (called "Serviettenknödel").
All these comfort goodies were accompanied by a superb and inexpensive Riesling, which the friendly and helpful lady innkeeper (who has a great sense of humour to boot) recommended us.
The decor, if somewhat of the kitschy rustical sort, was cosy and agreeable.
And contrary to one of your writer's experience, we found the prices most affordable: 100 euros for three including wine is not what I would call expensive nowadays for such a treat.
In short, a great experience, which we hope to renew when we visit Mannheim again - a city, by the way that is worth discovering despite the enormous destruction its centre suffered during WWII.
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