I had always wanted to go back to the Christmas Markets (or Weinachts Markts!) in Germany after visiting a few on a trip with my secondary school. So I was pretty excited that Craig’s friends who live in Cologne invited us to come and stay with them for a weekend in December.
We did a variety of things, arriving in time for them to have finished work on the Friday and going for dinner, drinks and out partying that evening. Saturday was brunch, Christmas Markets and the Dom before a very nice dinner, then heading back on Sunday afternoon. Via Hamburg, which seemed like a cheap idea at the time but was not a fun way to spend Sunday evening in reality.
This post is going to be on where we went out for food and drinks over the weekend, from experimental cocktail bars, a Brauhaus and a two starred Michelin restaurants. I will do another one on the markets (you can read it by clicking here!)
Via Bene Italian Restaurant
After a welcome drink at the flat we got ready and headed out for our big night.
The first stop was the really nicely presented Via Bene – a mediterranean, Italian themed restaurant which had been very tastefully decorated for Christmas. We had some aperol spritz to start, various carpaccio for starters – though I went with the bruschetta which was delightful.
Next up we all got the truffle pasta for our mains, which was unsurprisingly incredible. It is definitely reasonable price for the quality and portion size, with a big plate of truffle pasta going for €20.
Little Link Cocktail bar
Little link is apparently named so to highlight their interest in new and exciting creations, whilst also offering those classic favourites, which is cool. I enjoyed that their menu was entitled ‘cocktail atlas’.
We tried some fun modern cocktails, including one which was served in a bath and had a very cute little rubber ducky in it! We also tried shots with basil and with rocket which I think I enjoyed a little bit too much – I discovered the gin and basil combo years ago when working in a bar myself and would definitely recommend it to anyone out there who feels sceptical!
We had a nice table in the corner and enjoyed a few cocktails here before heading out to our party destination. They do offer some interesting sounding homemade bar snacks here too, but having just eaten a large bowl of pasta we didn’t sample these on this occasion.
Flamingo Royal is a nightclub and is definitely on the high end premium scale, with a large area dedicated to table service. We had reserved a booth, and spent rather a lot of money on giant vodka and bubbles. Maybe the basil shots were responsible oops.
But still, we had a nice evening despite them pulling the age old move of bringing a more expensive bottle than the one we asked for… Definitely enjoyed the vibe of the place with the balloons and star confetti, very festive for Christmas! It had a cool art deco style in the booth area which was very pretty and I felt very fancy.
We hit Peter’s Brauhaus after some of the markets to go and try some of their famous kolsch (beer) and have a snack to keep us going. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, although a few groups of two went in before us as they only had space for twos so you may not have to wait as long! And they bring you beer and there are tables out to stand at.
It was very christmassy in here, with decorations like garlands and baubles all around and even a nativity scene in the entrance hall which I enjoyed. The ceiling was also amazing in the dining section.
Once you sit down, they will keep bringing you more beers unless you put your coaster on top to indicate that you would not like anymore. I had some deep fried camembert, with cranberry sauce which was great for a cheese addict like me, although there wasn’t a huge amount of other vegetarian dishes, which made it a very easy decision.
Ox & Klee
The big dinner of the weekend was our visit to the 2 Michelin starred Ox & Klee, which sits in a modern building on the river Rhein. We very ambitiously went for the 8 course tasting menu, and some of those courses had multiple components so its was quite the feast! We also had a really nice light white wine to accompany the food because who needs the richness of a red when you have all that rich food to get through!
As I learnt in Malta, having not liked most of the meat dishes, it is much safer for a fussy eater like me to go for the vegetarian option. Lots of the options were similar but with a substitution made so I didn’t feel too left out. The amuse bouche were largely the same for example, but one of mine was cooked in non-animal fat, for example. Each of the amuse bouche and then the chocolates at the end of the night corresponded to a flavour like salty, nutty, fatty, sour etc which was a nice touch.
The decor was very clean and crisp which was nice and there were not many tables, just as you would expect. It was definitely the longest I have ever spent in a restaurant, think we were there for about five hours eating all of that food! It was definitely an enjoyable experience, although less mushrooms would have been appreciated by me. My overall review of Ox & Klee is that it is a very nice place for a fancy occasion however and definitely worth a trip if you are in Cologne and a fan of big tasting adventures.
So there you have our food tour of Cologne this December, not to mention the brunch of cheese and meats that we got to eat at Florian and Janina’s on the Saturday before the Gluwein drinking began! Thanks for having us!