Travel for Food: Cologne Germany

Cologne, with its rich history and contemporary art scene, is a place where you can experience culinary delights ranging from traditional German dishes to the exotic. I’m pleased to present my brief but delicious food experience in Cologne, Germany.  My trip to Cologne took place in January during a time when it was cold and windy, but despite this, many of the establishments I visited were warm, welcoming, and easily took my mind off the weather. While I didn’t have the luxury of spending an extended amount of time in this city, the brief encounters I had with its food scene was the polar opposite of the town itself. For hidden behind gothic towers, ancient stories, and Roman ruins was a world of refinement, diversity, and a modern twist on German classics.

Café Reichard

Address: Unter Fettenhennen 11, 50667 Köln, Germany

On my first evening in Cologne, I stumbled upon an eatery called Café Reichard. I found this place moments after I landed, so it broke my fast and gave me a glimpse into the diversity of Cologne’s eateries and was my first escape from the cold windy streets. This café had a view of the Roman Gothic Cathedral, which is one of its highlights. Café Reichard is listed as a French café with an old school German flare. While I can list several firsts in Cologne such as visiting a chocolate museum or walking along one of the world’s oldest waterway. Café Reichard was where I sampled my first-ever Gluhwein, which was a welcome drink on that cold night.

My first taste of Gluhwein

The taste slightly reminded me of the famous Caribbean Christmas rum cake of my childhood with spices and rum soaked raisins.

I started my meal with a rich tomato soup.

For the main course I ordered a creamy pasta with grilled salmon pieces. From the picture below you can see that I fully enjoyed it.

Poisson – Restaurant  

Address: Wolfsstraße 6-14, 50667 Köln, Germany

On my second night, I found an upscale seafood restaurant called Restaurant Poisson. Driven by my love of seafood, this restaurant was my pick of the night. This is a Michelin inspected restaurant with very high scores and noteworthy reviews from diners. While we can argue that a restaurant doesn’t have to be Michelin inspected or have a Michelin Star to be great. But, when you do come across a restaurant with such achievement you promptly elevate your expectations and walk in expecting exceptional service and food that makes you salivate with little to no effort.

Poisson was an exciting place as it had an open kitchen/bistro with a bar area that overlook the chef and kitchen staff as they prepare each dish. It very intimate setting dimly lit with other separate eating areas scattered around. I sat at the bar, so I had a front-row seat to the activities in the kitchen as the staff prepared all the dishes under the guidance of the head chef.

I started my dish with a fish soup, with the prosciutto with bread.

scallops, chickpeas, sweet potatoe chips

Then the lentil salmon with potato puree and fried sweet potato chips.

salmon, lentils, potato pure & fried sweet potato chip

For dessert I dived into the Crème Brulee with Tahiti Vanilla

Crème Brulee

It doesn’t take a lot of words to say that dining at Poisson was an enjoyable experience and one that seems destined to implant delicate yet delicious flavors into my memory. If I could only bring to life the tenderness of the scallops or the way the mashed potatoes dissolved on my tongue, then sharing this experience in digital print would be complete. I would like to visit Poisson again, but sometimes there is a fear that something done so marvelously once could never be repeated.Despite this I am certain that their ability to repeat this experience is guaranteed.

Ristorante Il Valentino

Address: Herzogstr. 14, 50667 Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

On my final day in Cologne, after my private walking tour and spending a few hours walking around the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. I ended up at a small but quaint Italian restaurant called Ristorante Il Valentino. This restaurant was super tiny and the kind of place that I would pass by and wonder how they managed to stuff patrons into such small tables, but then I would always imagine that small venues such as this were the best places to frequent.

I started out my dining experience with a shot of limoncello, which is an Italian lemon liqueur. The only other time I’ve had this was in southern Italy in an area known as Positano.

This was followed up by bruschetta, served with seafood soup and minestrone. Let me just say that of all the soups I’ve had in Cologne, whether it was the tomato soup at Café Reichard or the Fish Soup at Restaurant Poisson, the Seafood Soup at Ristorante Il Valentino took the crown. The shrimps, mussels, squid, and fish were excellently prepared with a flavor that wasn’t overdone or underwhelming. It was just right and encouraged the palate too long for more.

 After the soup I had the classic pizza with cheese, basil, and tomato sauce.

I ended my meal with Bavarian cream or crème bavaroise as its sometimes called.  This is another dessert that I’d never tried before, which is made with thickened milk and eggs. I found the Bavarian cream to be light and refreshing.

What are my take-aways from my food experience in Cologne? The first is that gastronomic enjoyment is around every corner, you cannot go wrong with small intimate restaurants, and sometimes a splurge on a Michelin associated dining experience is necessary.

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