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If you plan on visiting Germany, you have to try « die deutsche Küche » (the German cuisine). You won’t be disappointed! Usually, « die gastronomischen Betriebe » (gastronomic restaurant) offer their « Menü » only in German. The only exception to this rule are some of the more expensive restaurants in « der Hauptstadt » (the capital) Berlin or other big cities like Munich, Frankfurt am Main or Cologne. But they are expensive, and you often need to make « eine Reservierung » (a booking) weeks in advance. You can find everything about this restaurants in “Michelin Deutschland: Hotel- und Restaurantführer”, where they are given up to 3 “Sterne” (stars).
But there are many « gute Adressen » (German expression to say «good places »). Some being small, despite scoring 1 “Stern” in Michelin Deutschland: Hotel- und Restaurantführer which is already an achievement. And all offer different kinds of food. There are many different styles in German cuisine, from modern to gastronomic to traditional. And even there, the traditional cuisine will be very different, depeding on the “Region” it’s coming from. I personally like “die Südwestdeutsche Küche” (the south west German cuisin) best. You could also choose to go in a « Speiselokal», which is a mix between a bar and restaurant, where you can have a complete meal or just « ein Bier » (a beer). There are many places where you can enjoy « die deutsche Küche » where the staff is not necessarily fluent in English. And in this case, it’s always helpful to know some basic terms in German.
In some restaurants, “der Kellner” or “die Kellnerin” (the waiter or the waitress) will ask you “Für wie viele Personen?” (how many people are you?) as soon as you enter and will direct you towards “ihr Tisch” (your table), but in most places you‘ll be able to choose the table yourself.
Now you have to be able to cypher the menu. In German, « eine Mahlzeit » (a meal) is divided in 3 parts. Basically: « Vorspeise » (appetizer), « Hauptgang » (main course), « Nachspeise » (dessert), and after that you either drink a coffee or, in a more traditional place, a « Schnaps » (schnapps). « Der Kellner » (the waiter) will come and ask you « Haben Sie sich bereits entscheiden? » (did you made your choice ?). You can say « Nein, ich überlege noch » (no, i‘m still undecided) if you didn’t. But if you are ready, place your order. In “Speiselokalen” you’ll often have a single “Tagesmenü” (menu of the day).
When choosing meat, you’ll sometimes be asked how you like your meat but most of the time it‘ll be served well done („gut durch“). So if you want it underdone you should tell the „Kellner“ you want your meat „blutig“.
In all restaurants, you’ll be asked « Was möchten Sie trinken? » (what do you want to drink?). In a more expensive restaurant, you’ll have « einen Sommelier » (a wine steward) giving you advice on which wine to choose according to the type of meats and savors you ordered. Germany has some nice vineyards and if you decide to drink wine, you’ll have to choose between “Weißwein” (white wine), “Rotwein” (red wine) and “einen Roséwein” (pink wine).
Water is served for free in every Restaurant. Simply ask “Ich hätte gerne ein Glas Wasser” if you want some. The free water will be “Leitungswasser” (tap water). There are other types of water, which you need to pay for: If you want carbonated water, ask for some “Tafelwasser”, and if you need mineral water, ask for “Sprudel”.
“Der Nachtisch” will often be ordered after the “Hauptgang” is over. Some restaurants have “eine Dessertkarte” (a dessert menu). In this case, you’ll have plenty of choice between “Kuchen” (pastry) and “Eiscreme” (ice creams).
To end the meal, „der Kellner“ will bring you “die Rechnung” (the bill). If you are in a hurry, you can ask for it by saying “Die Rechnung, bitte!” to your waiter. “Trinkgelder” (tips) are common, but not the rule. “Es ist deine Entscheidung” (it’s your choice) to give a tip or not.
Finally, you have to know that in Germany « Mittagessen » (the lunch) is taken between « Mittag » (noon) and 2 PM. Many restaurants and Speiselokale will stop their noon service after 2:30 PM. « Das Abendesse» (the dinner) can be taken between 7 PM to 11PM, generally. Speiselokale allow you to take « das Frühstück » (the breakfast), which generally consist in « einem Kaffee » or « einem Tee» (a Tea) with a « Brötchen » (bun).
Anyhow, even if you still feel uncomfortable placing your order like a real German „Feinschmecker“ (gourmet), do not hesitate to try small restaurants in small towns. People are always happy to see foreigners in their establishment, and you will always be « willkommen » (welcome).
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