Rothenburg ob der Tauber is easily one of the prettiest, most picturesque little towns in Germany. In fact, this was one of the reasons we spent a few days here on our travels last year.
Rothenburg first piqued our interest when a photo of the Plönlein, one of the most photographed places in Germany, graced the cover of our 2015 Europe calendar. It was incentive enough to add it to our itinerary. This picture-perfect little town did not disappoint:
One afternoon we stopped off at the tourist information booth to get some ideas on what to see and do in town. They had some guided walking tours that sounded fun, including a nightwatchman tour. But in the end we chose a self-guided audio tour. It allowed us to go at our own pace and avoid the touristy crowds.
One of the buildings the audio guide highlighted was a restaurant called Zur Höll, which translates in English as “To Hell“. We had walked by it previously, but it’s importance was lost on us without knowing the background. As it turned out, this quaint little building’s history goes back to 900 AD!!!
We certainly wouldn’t have suspected its age just from looking at it. But it’s actually one of the oldest houses in Rothenburg. Once we discovered how old it was, we knew exactly where we were going to have supper later that night!
The weather was favourable, so although seeing the interior intrigued us, we chose to sit outside instead. Zur Höll had the cutest little car parked outside as advertising too. It’s a BMW Isetta 250, often referred to as a “bubble car,” for obvious reasons:
I also fell in love with Zur Höll’s logo of a little devil sitting on a wine glass. I still have a paper napkin from here in my souvenir stash:
We decided to split an appetizer plate between the two of us and order some local wines. We requested the Frankische Brotzeit. This is most literally translated as Frankish bread time, or snacks. My husband is pointing to the “garnish” part for a reason, which will soon be explained:
Anyway, we perused the wine menu and ordered two different whites so we could compare them in flavour. We had quickly become enamoured of the sweet rieslings in Germany and couldn’t get enough. My husband tends not to like sweet wines, but he quickly fell in love with the rieslings here, which says a lot. And the wine selection here was terrific. They had a decent wine list, plus they had great knowledge and it was easy to ask for recommendations. Their staff was more than happy to find something in their cellar to satisfy our desires.
Then came the appetizer tray we had ordered. It was the perfect size for us to split, since neither of us are big eaters. Plus, we find cheese and meat to be quite filling. And there was a lot of meat here:
So, you know how my husband is pointing to the word “garnish” on their menu in a previous photo? Well, as you can see in the photo above in the upper left-hand corner, there is a scoop of white mash nestled amongst some tomato and cucumber slices. Well, I *thought,* or perhaps assumed, that this was a little dollop of seasoned mashed potato. I mean, that’s what it looks like on first glance, right? Let’s zoom in a bit:
It seemed to have all the characteristics of mashed potato. But when I took a little scoop on my fork and popped it in my mouth? Not mashed potato. This is the aforementioned “garnish” – lard spread for your bread. I was not prepared for a mouthful of schmear, so I can’t even say whether it was good or not. My surprise overwhelmed any other reaction I might have had. My husband thought it was hilarious. I was just grateful for my glass of riesling to wash the texture out of my mouth.
We ordered two more glasses of riesling, and this time I requested the sweetest one they had. It was one of the most fabulous, drool-worthy rieslings I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. Unfortunately I did not request the name of it, since the likelihood of finding it back in Canada was going to be zero. But it was like drinking honeyed rose petals off the wing of an angel.
We ordered two more glasses of perfection and watched as the nightwatchman’s guided tour strolled by, with about 30-40 tourists tagging along for the walk. We once again agreed that the self-guided audio tour was the better choice for us, even though I usually love costumed tour guides telling tales of murder, mayhem and scandal. But spending the 3+ hours at Zur Höll was worth skipping the guided tour for:
I decided at this point that I’d better poke my head in and see what a building from 900 AD looks like from the inside. I didn’t want to take photos of people in the dining room, but I did snap a few interesting pics in the basement on the way to the bathroom. For example, the staircase leading outside to the back:
And, whatever this is. Does anyone know?
It was hard for us to leave Zur Höll. We just totally mellowed out, and we didn’t peel ourselves off our chairs until sunset.
So if you’re ever in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and someone tells you to go “To Hell”, don’t take it as an insult. Take it as a recommendation; they know what they’re talking about.