Thursday, February 7, 2013

Restaurant Review: Flammkuchen Hütte in Mehlingen

Cute, isn't it?

This ain't Pizza Hut, folks, and thank goodness. However, "Flammkuchen Hütte" means Flame Cake Hut, and Flammkuchen is a distant cousin of pizza, so a coworker, being silly, said that it's like a Pizza Hut, in German. Luckily enough for us, it's much better than Pizza Hut!

Flammkuchen Hütte is a small restaurant in Mehlingen, about 5 minutes east of Kaiserslautern. It's a mostly adorable restaurant, though with some somewhat creepy decorations inside, strangely enough. The most important thing is that the food is delicious and service is friendly.

Flammkuchen in German literally means "flame cake" and it is baked in an oven. It is a French Alsatian dish but is also reasonably common in Germany. I have seen two different styles of Flammkuchen so far: a very thin, almost tortilla or cracker-like version at Flammkuchen Hütte, or a style with a thicker crust that is more similar to regular crust on American pizza. The latter version was a treat that my friend and German teacher made for me in the States using a recipe from an old German cookbook. Both versions were very delicious and instead of a tomato-based sauce, they are topped by a crème fraîche style white sauce.

I had heard good things about this restaurant so we gave it a try today. It's a small, very cute restaurant in a log building. Well, I should say that it's mostly cute inside. There are some mannequins used for decoration that are a bit disconcerting. Two of them sit above the bar on a park bench. It's probably supposed to look cute but instead it's strange to have them staring* over dining guests. At the entrance is an old woman mannequin. I've been told that she shakes, which I haven't observed myself.

As mentioned above, the restaurant is quite small, so it would not be suitable for large parties as it probably only seats about 15 people in the main dining area. There is a Biergarten in the back for nicer weather. There is a bar available too.

Besides the strange mannequins, the place is cute, the food was delicious, and service was good. We each ordered our own Flammkuchen; my dining partner had garlic and onions on hers and mine had onions and tomatoes that actually tasted like tomatoes and not some random mush. The crust was thin and crisp. I had previously eaten the thicker Flammkuchen so I was a bit surprised that there's a thinner version but found it very tasty. Two Flammkuchen, a bottle of water, and a cup of tea was EUR 20,20. Our waitress was very pleasant and the food, while being homemade, was still quite fast.

So good...
Besides Flammkuchen, there are some other items on the menu, mostly along the lines of steaks and salads. Just keep in mind that as the restaurant's name suggests, its star feature is the Flammkuchen. The traditional Flammkuchen offerings are savory but some sweet options are available, too. A friend tried a Camembert cheese and cranberry Flammkuchen which straddled the sweet-savory divide and reported that it was quite delicious. Next time I'll give it a try -- this restaurant definitely deserves another visit (and another...)

*Maybe it's the creepy mannequin version of The German Stare?

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